Jezuïetenberg


Useful Information

Location: von Dopfflaan 4, 6213 NG Maastricht.
old: Cannerweg 792, 6213 NB Maastricht.
South of Maastricht, north of Kanne. From Maastricht follow Bieslanderweg south towards Kanne, right before the border to Belgium/Kanne parking lot on the right side, signposted.
(50.822835, 5.664715)
Open: All year first Sat every month.
All year Mon-Sat after reservation.
Online booking required.
[2022]
Fee: Adults EUR 7.50.
Minimum 10 participants or EUR 75.
[2022]
Classification: SubterraneaRock Mine MineRoom and Pillar Mining
Light: bring torch
Dimension:  
Guided tours: D=90 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes, with two helpers per wheelchair
Bibliography: T. Breuls, P. Houben (2008): De Jezuïetenberg. Maastrichts Silhouet no. 70. Stichting Historische Reeks Maastricht. ISBN 978-90-5842-038-1
Address: Jezuïetenberg, Stichting Jezuïetenberg, Von Dopfflaan 4, 6213 NG Maastricht, Tel: +31-43-3213488, Tel: +31-630-546526.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1574 Jesuits found a Jesuit monastery and college on Korte Bredestraat in Maastricht.
1704 limestone quarrying, underground chambers excavated.
1774 Jesuit monastery abandoned after Pope Clement XIV had dissolved the order.
1853 new monastery established in Maastricht, initially in the house Villain XIIII, a mansion near the Tongersepoort.
1880 end of limestone quarrying.
1880 Jesuits start to explore the abandoned quarry and decorate the walls of the quarry with charcoal drawings and paintings.
1890 Pater Jansen and Berghegge started the Leeghwater Project, in which canals and waterfalls were created using groundwater, the result was called Venetië (Venice).
1891 Pater Fred de Bruijn surveys the quarry and draws a map.
1900 begin of tourism to the caves which were still open.
1904 a case of vandalism by local youths finally led to the closure of the cave to protect them.
1906 vandals gained access to the mountain, systematically damaging all works of art.
1909 Pater Herman Jansen creates a map on the tunnel wall with 65 places of interest.
1911 Mining engineer surveyed the quarry and identified numerous unstable places.
1920 a massive collapse destroyed the middle of the quarry.
1927 new Alhambra created by Pater Weve.
1968 management and maintenance of the quarry transferred to the Stichting Jezuïetenberg (Jesuit Quarry Foundation).
1996 declared a Rijksmonument (National Monument of the Netherlands).
1998 underground refectory of the Jesuits reopened for the visitors.

Description

photography
Jezuïetenberg, The Netherlands. Public Domain.

Jezuïetenberg (Jesuit Quarry) is a small, forested hill at the border between the Netherlands and Belgium. They translate the name on their own website with Jesuit Caves, but its actually Jesuit Limestone Quarries. The underground chambers are a result of limestone quarrying, this quarry is located in the Cannerberg and is a part of the Fallenberg quarry. During the 18th amd 19th century the marl and limestone was used as a building stone. The rock was quarried in the traditional room and pillar method.

This site is quite exceptional, but not for the underground caverns. Actually the emphasis is on the great number of over 400 works of art, including reliefs, frescoes and charcoal drawings. They include three-dimensional and colourful painted models of the Alhambra, Egyptian tombs, Babylonian winged bulls, Hindu temples, and Buddhist temples with Buddha statues. But also Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and popular cartoons from cinema and TV.

The Jesuits established a monastery in Maastricht in 1853, which offered a theological training course for a growing number of students. The priesthood training was demanding, which made it important to have recreational opportunities. One day a week the students were obliged to relax in an outdoor area, known as campagnedag (campaign day), the day spent in the campaign (the field). They were allowed to travel a maximum of one hour from the study house. At this time the Jesuits were allowed to use Villa Canne, which was owned by a local entrepreneur. It is located only 1.5 km from the quarries.

When the quarries were abandoned in 1880, they were not closed off. The owners of the quarries did not care and the Jesuit started to visit the quarries to search for fossils, then started to leave drawings and graffiti on the walls. When the campagnedag was introduced, they started regular visits, and soon the Cannerberg was called Jezuïetenberg by the locals. Pater Fred de Bruijn surveyed the caves and made a floor plan, and also they made countless drawings in charcoal and color. At some point someone had the idea to carve sculptures into the soft rock. They created a large number of reliefs and statues, but also replicas of places of which they read in their studies.

Pater Jansen and Berghegge started in 1890 the Leeghwater Project. They created canals and waterfalls using groundwater, the result was called Venetië (Venice). Around 1900 tourism started at the cave, but they were still open and people could just go in. In 1904 there was a case of vandalism, which finally led to the closure of the cave to protect them. The land around and above the entrance was owned by the Burgerlijk Armbestuur (Civil Poor Administration), who closed the entrance with a wooden door. The owners of the Boschberg, closed off the connection between the Boschberg and the Fallenberg with an iron gate. Only the Jesuits were allowed access to the Fallenberg. A much worse case of vandalism happened in 1906, when vandals gained access to the mountain, systematically damaging all works of art. As a result the wooden door was removed and the entrance bricked up. Between 1908 and 1910, Venetië was expanded and the Alhambra with a pond and fountain was added. But in 1920 the central part of the quarry collapsed and numerous works were covered by debris and the quarry split in two parts. As a result the site was closed by the State Supervision of Mines.

After the reopening in 1921 only a third was still accessible. New projects were started and well named Hamesebron was dug. A new Alhambra was created by Pater Weve. It was completed by a Moorish Porta Ignea (1929), a Moorish Lion Fountain (1931), statues of Saint Cecilia and Saint Tarcisius, and a Chapel of the Sacred Heart.

During World War II, the Jesuits were actively persecuted by the Nazis. They were banished from the mountain and their residence was taken over by the Nazis. In 1944 the Germans built a factory in the nearby Boschberg for the final assembly of the flying bomb V1, but it became never operational. After the war the Jesuits returned, but in 1949 the foundation Het Limburgs Landschap purchased the land and decided to exploit the Jesuit mountain commercially. They banned the Jesuits from accessing the mountain. But Pater Paul Dresen had also purchased a part of the land and claimed the right of way, after sixty years of passage through the Boschberg. As a result the plans of the foundation crumbled and the situation normalized again. In 1953 the NATO claimed the area as its future supreme headquarters, but in a treaty between the owners they finally restricted their bunker to the entrance area of the Boschberg, where the V1 factory had been. The supreme headquarters was never built, it was actually built in Mons, south of Bruxelles.

In 1968 the Jesuits finally left Maastricht. The management and maintenance of the quarry was transferred to the Stichting Jezuïetenberg (Jesuit Quarry Foundation). The non-profit organisation is caretaker until today.

The Jesuits belong to the Society of Jesus, which is a Roman Catholic order. Their mission was to convert people to Christianity, and they were particularly zealous in evangelising Third World countries. Many Dutch Jesuits were missionaries in Indonesia, and students came from all over the world, as far as the Congo. Probably a part of the works are part of their heritage. Also, the Jesuits were extremely worldly and broad-minded. And they are known for being masters in copying world-famous paintings and sculptures. Nevertheless, it's strange that they created temples of other religions. And then there are the conspiracy theories on the internet about the Jesuit controlling powerful secret societies which are shaping the New World Order. Or they just felt safe enough to explore other beliefs, 45 m below ground and out of sight of the Pope.

Today it is possible to visit the site on special tours, which are published on the online booking site of the Maastricht Tourist Info. The tunnels do not have electric light, visitors are equipped with handheld lanterns, we suggest to bring your own light, preferably a headlamp.