Patrons of the Selexyz Dominicanen store in Maastricht, Netherlands, can be forgiven if their eyes stray from the bookshelves. Occupying a Dominican church dating from 1294, the shop is widely acclaimed as the most beautiful bookshop in the world.
The medieval church lacked a congregation and was actually being used for public bike storage before undergoing refurbishment for the Selexyz chain by Dutch architects Merkx + Girod in 2006.
Initial proposals for installation of a second floor that would chop interior height in half were rejected. Instead, a monumental, minimalist metal bookcase offset to one side increases the store’s rack space without altering the church’s character and beauty.
Climbing to the upper racks affords shoppers a closer look at faded ceiling frescoes while a Blanche Deal Coffee Lovers café in the former choir area features a modern reading table shaped like a cross. The choir area also serves as a stage for art shows and weekly events, listed on the Selexyz Dominicanen website.
With 1200m2 of retail space, the store offers a vast selection of books in Dutch language as well as English, French and Spanish. Selexyz Dominicanen is located near Vrijthof Square, beside the Entre Deux shopping centre, another example of innovative refurbishment of historic architecture in Maastricht.
Maastricht, Netherlands, is a vibrant university town famed for its Roman past and Carnival celebrations. TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s leading fine art and antiques fair, takes place here every March and celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2012. For help in planning your stay, see Maastricht Tourism.
And for more on visiting the Netherlands, see Holland.com, official website of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offers daily direct flights to Amsterdam from many international destinations including Toronto. From Amsterdam, Maastricht is about two and a half hours by car or train. Maastricht is also easily accessible from other European cities like Paris, Brussels, Dusseldorf and Cologne.