Maastricht is a nice old town in the south of The Netherlands, pretty close to where I grew up. One of its churches, the 13th-century Dominicanenkerk (Dominican Church) was converted to a bookstore around 2006. It is likely the most beautiful bookshop in the world and I visit it whenever possible. During the past holidays I had my camera and Tokina 12-24 wide angle lens with me. The light from outside was pretty good, allowing me to take some decent pictures of the building. Enjoy!
The massive doors of the church are clad with corroded metal, with the word ‘Books’ on them in many languages. It is a nice touch that this is even done in the local dialect. There were too many people around to take a decent picture of the entrance so I made a close-up of the English term.
Here is the view when you enter the store and unashamedly climb on top of the furniture, as I did. The floor space of the cathedral didn’t offer enough room for all of the books so the architects, Merkx+Girod, decided to add a multi-storey steel book stack in the central nave. Popular books are on the ground floor, more specialized literature is on the upper levels.
In this section of the store they sell books about art. I’ve noticed during recent visits that a growing number of these books are unusual, either in finishing or content-wise. There is, for instance, an increase in the number of over-sized or very hefty books. Some of them, such as atlases, have elaborate fold-outs. During my previous visit, the shop was selling a facsimile of a 17th-century book on typography. I guess publishers have realized that regular novels can easily be published in electronic form but that people will still buy printed books for which it is impossible to create a compelling digital alternative.
Note how the reading table in the cafe is shaped like a cross – a nice touch by the designers. The gaps that run through the middle of the table hold magazines and newspapers. I have never had a coffee or cappuccino here – there simply isn’t time with so many books to look at.
The doll on the picture below is called Nijntje, a creation by the Dutch illustrator Dick Bruna. Thanks to Wikipedia I now know that the cute little rabbit is called Miffy in English speaking countries. When I noticed the little boy sitting next to Miffy wearing a t-shirt in matching color, I took a quick snapshot and hurried downstairs to take a close-up. Unfortunately the toddler was already gone by the time I got there. The shot below is a small crop and not the best quality but I hope you still like it.
That is it. I took some abstract pictures during a more recent visit. Thanks for watching!
Additional pictures and information
Coolhunter has some additional shots from when the store was just opened. Crossroadsmag has two fascinating blog entries about this refurbished church, one on its history and one about the opening of the store. If you just want to look at more pictures, visit this Flickr list.