The relocation of the landing of the Noorderbrug bridge has freed up space for the realization of an entirely new city park: the Frontenpark. Located on the north side of the Sphinxkwartier district, the Frontenpark appears like the district’s back garden stretching over more than twenty hectares. This park has a wealth of flora and fauna and cultural heritage and offers space for events. The Frontenpark is open for visitors since wednesday 26 June 2019.
Lage Fronten: from industry to nature reserve
The industrialization of Maastricht has left its mark on the Frontenpark and saw the old fortifications converted into a harbour in the nineteenth century. Remnants of the railway yards and sections of rails with sleepers give the nature reserve a special character. But years of neglect have given nature free rein. The Frontenpark is now home to many different species of animals, such as the wall lizard, beaver, and the common kingfisher.
In recent years, the ramparts in the Lage Fronten have been renovated to prevent further deterioration. Where necessary, COR-TEN steel decks were built, so that walkers can pass freely across the water. A limited number of bicycle paths and footpaths were also constructed, as it is important that the rugged character of the surroundings is maintained. Instead, numerous desire paths help hikers to find their way through the nature reserve.
Hoge Fronten: a walk through the natural and cultural history of the region
The Hoge Fronten have long been a favourite hiking area for residents of Maastricht-West. This is a protected natural monument dotted with the remnants of the eighteenth and nineteenth century fortifications, also known as the Line of Du Moulin. From a military and historical point of view, the Hoge Fronten are of great academic and national significance. But hikers are also welcome to come here to enjoy the unique natural surroundings and see the fortifications.
Wandele vaan Lambèr tot Lumière
Or to translate the Limburg dialect into plain English: a walk from the St Lambert’s Church to Lumière Cinema (Sphinxkwartier). A 120-metre-long dry canal under the Cabergerweg once again connects the Hoge and Lage Fronten as they had been in the past. People are now able to walk straight from the Lambertuskerk (St Lambert’s Church on Koningin Emmaplein square) via the Frontenpark to Lumière Cinema to see a film. They can also continue their walk and visit one of the other locations that make the Sphinxkwartier district so unique.
City field: recreation and events
The former Gashouder building located opposite Het Radium serves as the unmissable landmark for the city field: a large, green field of grass where visitors can come to enjoy a picnic or spend some time perfecting their football skills. This field also offers space for events and concerts that reflect the general atmosphere and possibilities offered by Frontenpark. In August/September 2019, the Bruis festival will be the first event hosted on the city field. This will serve as a test case for any future events.
De Krul: from slip road to eye-catcher
At the Boschstraat/Frontensingel junction, the former slip road from the Noorderbrug bridge towards the city centre has been left intact as a permanent reminder of the old landing. The concrete colossus is now a lookout point and offers a unique view of both the Frontenpark and Sphinxkwartier district. In this way, De Krul adds an extra dimension to the rugged environment.
Baron Dibbetspark: a mini park at the top of Boschstraat
Opposite De Krul, the old entry slip road of the Noorderbrug bridge was demolished to make way for a small park: Baron Dibbetspark. The park has been named after the historic fortress commander who prevented Maastricht from falling into Belgian hands in the nineteenth century. According to legend, he was buried under the traffic light near the former slip road. However, no remains were found during the demolition. The only tangible remnant of Baron Dibbets is a plaque.
The new Frontenpark is a rugged park that focuses as much as possible on preserving local flora, fauna, and heritage. The park’s hiking trails are bumpy and overgrown with grass and weeds, making them challenging terrain for walking. Walkers should also be aware of the considerable differences in height due to the existing fortifications. Where possible, Frontenpark has been designed to be accessible for everyone.
Frontenpark can still be enjoyed by people with reduced mobility, as well as grandparents and parents with prams, but please note that not all paths are negotiable for everyone. This includes the fortifications, which can only be reached on foot (much like the ones in Stadspark), or the stairs (still to be constructed) that will lead to Hoge Fronten from the underpass on Cabergerweg. In the coming years, the Municipality of Maastricht will be looking at how Frontenpark can be further developed without losing its rugged, wild character.
* The map below shows the paths (in yellow) that are easily accessible for everyone.
Photography: Fred Berghmans[