How did industrialization affect the cities of the 19th century? The extensive Sphinxkwartier in Maastricht illustrates this transformation with a multitude of factories and industrial buildings that, through reuse, are increasingly evolving into the city's cultural hotspot. The district is dominated by the former De Sphinx sanitary ceramics factory, built in 1929, with predecessors dating back to the industrial pioneer Petrus Regout. The monumental proportions of the industrial building and its metal-frame construction have earned it the nickname "Eiffel" - a reference to the Eiffel Tower. It houses, among other things, the Sphinx Passage, which is accessible free of charge. Its 120 metres make it the longest decorative tile picture of the Netherlands, with 30,000 inscribed and illustrated tiles telling the story of around 200 years of Maastricht ceramic production. The rest of the building is shared by a student residence, offices, lofts, a restaurant, a rooftop bar and an eco-supermarket. Right next door is the Bassin, the city's oldest industrial port, built in 1826. Further highlights of the quarter are the former power station of the company De Sphinx, today a cinema, as well as the Lomelefabriek, still used as a paper mill, and above all the extensive Frontenpark in Maastricht's former ramparts.
Maastricht is famous for its 17th century historic centre, but only very few people know that the city is also rich in industrial heritage. The Sphinxkwartier wants to change that. The quarter owes its name to the broad industrial portfolio of the ingenious entrepreneur Petrus Regout. The tycoon's career started in 1834 with the establishment of a glass factory, and only two years later he was most successful with the manufacture of ceramics, a product which became known under the trademark De Sphinx. At that time Maastricht emerged to be the first industrial city in the Netherlands. For safety reasons, all industrial companies had to settle within the fortification walls. A key feature in this context was the Bassin, a harbour basin that marked the end of the Zuid-Willemsvaart Canal, completed in 1826, and quickly became the heart of the booming industrial zone, with the factories of Petrus Regout playing a decisive role. In 1848 he even built his own gasworks to ensure the lighting of his various factories. The second major industry in Maastricht, paper production, took shape in 1850. In the same year, an additional canal connected the city with the Belgian industrial hub of Liège, followed in 1856 by the access to the railway network. The Bassin is still in use today, with private yachts berthing instead of cargo ships. The abandonment of the ramparts in 1867 was the signal to expand the industrial zone beyond the city walls. In 2001 the Maastricht City Council decided to redevelop the centrally located Sphinxkwartier to provide access to its historically significant industrial monuments, such as the Sphinx Passage. This process has not yet been completed, but the potential of the district is already evident: it combines a multi-faceted industrial heritage, ongoing production and a wide range of cultural and leisure activities with attractive opportunities for recreation in the unspoilt Frontenpark.
|Recommended duration of visit:||2 Hours|
|Duration of a guided tour:||90 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||Available|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
The Sphinxquarter is freely accessible at any time.