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Entre Deux

Maastricht,The Netherlands

History of Entre Deux

from monastery to shopping centre

Those who visit Entre Deux can’t help but notice that this building was built centuries ago as something other than a covered shopping centre. A Dominican monastery stood here, between the Vrijthof and market squares, in the thirteenth century. If you look carefully you will see traces of this monastery preserved in the baroque façade on the Dominicanenkerk square. The Gothic church that remains standing to this day was converted into what is now considered the world’s most beautiful bookshop.

When the monastery was closed in 1783, the French government used the building as an academic institute. In 1804 it became a secondary school. The last secondary school to occupy the building (from 1960 to 1968) was the Civic Lyceum. The church building also served a number of different purposes throughout history, from a parish church to an art gallery and from a party venue to a bicycle parking facility.

Department store chain Grand Bazar bought the former monastery grounds in the 1970s with the ambition of converting it into a large shopping complex annex underground parking garage. The chain, however, went bankrupt and as a result the construction plans were cancelled, leaving the building uninhabited for several years. In 1979 the Entre Deux shopping centre was established on the grounds, which it shared with the Bonnefanten Museum from 1979 to 1994.

Those who remember the old shopping centre may recall the commotion that surrounded its appearance. A decision was made in 2005 to demolish the building to make way for a new shopping centre that would bear the same name. Designed by Maastricht architect Arno Meijs, it proved to be a great success: Entre Deux has since been awarded several prizes. Making use of the natural differences in height, Meijs designed a slightly inclined, covered high street, with shops on three levels between the Dominicanenkerk square and Spilstraat. The first shops opened their doors in 2006.

Would you like to learn more about the history of the monastery and the church? Visit the Wikipedia page about the Maastricht Dominican Monastery (Dutch only).