Do you fancy sitting in an underground cinema, or drinking a "Grottenbier" in an underground café? Then the Valkenburg Colliery Museum is just the place for you. Here visitors can experience their own underground world.
The ground below the Maastricht and Valkenburg region is partly so full of holes as a slice of Leerdammer cheese. People began cutting expansive grottos and caves out of the soft Marl as early as the Roman Age. Marl is a mixture of clay and calcite. When brought to the surface it quickly hardens out. This explains why it has been a favourite building material for ages now: and also why there are more than 20,000 underground passages covering a total of over 300 kilometres in the region around Maastricht and Valkenburg. A broad expanse of coal mines grew up in the immediate vicinity of the marl area. Thus marl and coal played a significant role in the industrial history of South Limburg.
As early as 1917 the first and only underground mining museum in the Netherlands was set up in the Valkenburg colliery, in order to give visitors an idea of the arduous work below the surface. The visitor gallery were driven into the soft marl and equipped with the relevant technical equipment, so that guests would not have to wear any special protective clothing. 14 former miners demonstrate the machinery underground, and tell visitors about their turbulent working life. But visitors do not only learn about mining: they can also take a trip back in time to the long forgotten geological periods in the underground fossil museum with exhibits dating back to the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. These include a real jaw-dropper; the largest lower jaw bellowing to a mosasaur (giant marine lizard). And, if you wish, you can round off your tour with an original Valkenburger Grottenbier in the pleasantly warm atmosphere of the underground café – thanks to the underfloor heating.