Friday, July 17, 2009

The Fairest Bookstore in the World

We're still five month away from our big European adventure, but Niels has found at least one place for us to visit. I think a full day is in order...

On a dreary November day in 2006 the Dutch pulled-off an impressive feat. What to do with a beautiful 13th century church in the middle of town and no congregation? Well, you find another use for it. They tried boxing matches, car shows and even - how Dutch - bicycle storage. But, it's last designation hit the sweet-spot; a book store...

Selexyz Dominicanen, as it is called, is located in the city’s old Dominican Church. After many months of renovation the magnificent building was finally ready for its new purpose. It stands tall in the center of the city. The 13th century gothic church offers its visitors a breathtaking high ceiling, a majestic nave, grand ornamentation, and an opportunity to worship: not at the great altar of God, but at the many altars of literature.

Recently rated the world’s “fairest bookshop” by the UK’s highly-regarded Guardian newspaper, the Dominicanen has quickly become one of Maastricht’s tourist attractions. “After the Guardian article, this place has been a madhouse,” remarks William Remmers, General Department Head of the store.

The bookstore fits almost snugly between Maastricht’s two dominant squares, the Markt and the Vrijthof. The renovation project was led by Selexyz, a large Dutch bookstore chain, in collaboration with the city council of Maastricht. Selexyz Dominicanen also represents the first project in the Netherlands to turn a church into a bookstore.

In Maastricht, the Dutch, both young and old, the students, and the expatriates constitute a unique and vibrant reading culture. Appropriately, now they all have an equally splendid place to congregate.

Note: We blatantly copied text from Crosswords Magazine ;-)

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