The Vault

Rembrandt's famous Night Watch, among others, was kept in St. Pietersberg. Photo: Saturday afternoon bustle at the Night Watch in the Rijksmuseum

Rembrandt's famous Night Watch, among others, was kept in St. Pietersberg. Photo: Saturday afternoon bustle at the Night Watch in the Rijksmuseum


The largest vault in the Netherlands

Maastricht - The abandoned Van Schaijktunnel, deep in the limestone rocks of the Sint- Pietersberg mountain, houses the biggest safe in the Netherlands. This safe was built to protect famous artworks like the Nightwatch and other Dutch treasuries during World War 2.

Art bunkers in the dunes

Just before the Second World War, the Dutch government started building a number of special repositories for Dutch art. A number of special bunkers were built in the dunes near the North Sea for this purpose. However, shortly after the invasion of Germany at the beginning of the war, the German occupation started with the construction of the Atlantic Wall, which meant that a new storage place for all the works of art had to be found.

Rembrandt in the mountain

At the end of 1941, construction of a special safe was therefore started in Sint Pietersberg near Maastricht. The vault was completed in 1942 and 800 extremely valuable art treasures, including the world-famous Night Watch by Rembrandt, the Little Street by Johannes Vermeer and the Bull by Paulus Potter, were transferred to Limburg.

The St. Pietersberg

The St. Pietersberg is one of the few "mountains" in our country. However, a large part of the mountain has been excavated by the ENCI. The First Dutch Cement Industry uses the marl to make cement - but the marl extraction in the St. Pietersberg is much older. The Romans already started with aboveground extraction. The first corridors were carved in the 12th century. In the last century, the tunnel system had grown to no less than 230 kilometers. Due to the excavations in recent decades, only a part of it remains. The St. Pietersberg is now owned by the Association for Natural Monuments.


Led by a guide you can take an underground walk through St. Pietersberg. The tour leads you through dark corridors that extend into Belgium (and were therefore also used by smugglers) and past countless cave drawings and the site of a Mesosaurus. There are also all kinds of stories such as that of the 2 children who got lost and died. One of the boys was found less than 60 meters from the exit after 12 days. In the 17th century, 4 monks got lost in the pitch dark. After a few weeks, their bodies were found with their phalanges worn off. They had tried to find the exit by feeling.

Nightwatch trivia:

The Vault photo gallery

What do visitors say about The Vault?

Maastricht trips in the area

    Adress and visitor information

    The Vault

    Address: Slavante 1 (Sint Pietersberg)
    Postal code and City: 6212 NB  Maastricht
    Region: Zuid-Limburg
    Province/Region: Limburg

    Visit: An average visits takes approx. 1,5 hours.
    Please check opening times & admission charges before visiting.

    Let op: The locations on the map are indicational. It is not always the entrance, parking lot or best route. The map shows up to 8 locations in the area. Want to see all locations? Check our Hotspot map or use the Search option on this website.



    Waning gibbous

    Art bunker dunes Castricum

    Because of the approaching war, this bombproof bunker was built to bring the most important paintings and other art works in the Netherlands to safety. The roof and walls are made of 1.5 meters thick reinforced concrete. The bunker was completed in April 1940, just before the Netherlands was invaded by Germany.
    Rembrandt's Night Watch also spent some time in the art bunker in the dunes of Castricum. The German occupiers knew this, but assumed they would win the war and left the painting in this safe place.
    Because the entrance was too small for the frame of the Night Watch, it was removed from the frame on the lawn of Jonkheer Frits Gevers (now Hof van Kijk Uit) and rolled up for storage in the bunker.

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