MAASEYCK. 26. Route. 159
period. Guicciardini's (p. xin) description of the quarries three
centuries ago is still applicable.
'Viscera montis scatent lapide quodam molli, arenoso, et parvo negotio
sectili, cujus ingens assidue hie effoditur copia, idque tam accurata conser-
vandi et montis et fodientium cura, tamque altis, longis, flexuosis et
periculosis quoque meatibus.'
The galleries constitute a vast labyrinth, of about 12 M. in
length, and 7 M. in breadth, and are all so exactly similar in ap¬
pearance , that their intricacies are known to a few experienced
guides only. Most of the entrances are closed, as adventurous
travellers have not unfrequently perished in the foolhardy attempt
to explore the quarries alone. The dead bodies, which have occa¬
sionally been found in the more remote recesses, have been preserv¬
ed from decomposition by the remarkable dryness of the air, and
the lowness of the temperature. Thousands of names are rudely
scratched on the pillars, and a genuine inscription of the year 1037
is even said to have been discovered.
One of the phenomena pointed out by the guides is the gradual
formation of a small natural reservoir in the roots of a fossil tree,
by the dropping of water from the branches, which still remain
embedded in the ceiling, the intermediate part having been removed
in the course of the excavations.
The invariable temperature in the quarries is about 55° Fahr. ;
but even in hot weather the visitor soon becomes accustomed to it,
and their remarkable dryness renders the walk far pleasanter than
most other subterranean expeditions. On emerging from these
gloomy depths, the traveller enjoys a charming view of the river
and its serpentine course for many miles through a broad and
fertile plain , of- the town with its picturesque towers and bridge,
and of the pleasant environs enlivened with villas, farms, and
cottages, — forming a delightful termination to the excursion.
The terrace of the Casino (refreshments), already mentioned, is
the finest point of view.
Railway to Aix-la-Chapelle, Basselt, and Antwerp, see R. 16.
To Rotterdam bt Venlo (140i|2 M.) by Dutch railway in 6'|2—^7 hrs.
<fares 11 fl. 60, 9 fl. 25, 5 fl. 75 cents). As far as Venlo the line runs
towards the N., following the course of the Meuse, which however is
rarely visible. Stations Bunde, Beek-Elsloo, Geleen (14 M.), Sittard ("Hotel
Hiihnen), Susteren (from which a diligence runs several times daily in
1 hr. to the small town of Maaseyck, five miles hence, on the 1. bank
of the Meuse, the birthplace of the brothers Van Eyck, to whom a
handsome monument in marble was erected here in 1864); then Echt,
29!|2 M. Roermond (De Gouden Leeuw; Bdtel de VEmpereur), a small
town with 9000 inhab., at the confluence of the Roer and the Meuse,
possessing considerable cloth factories. The Minster, formerly the church
of a Cistercian nunnery, consecrated in 1224, and recently restored, is a
good example of the transition period. St. Christophers is adorned with
Next stations Swalmen, Reuver, Tegelen, and (44 M.) Venlo (p. 249).
Thence to Rotterdam, see R. 46.