How an old Dominican church became the best bookstore in the world
As I’ve previously mentioned the Dutch city of Maastricht is full of hidden gems, which also includes this one, the best bookstore in the world. As you can see from my pictures, it’s easy to see why the Selexyz Dominicanen is a Maastricht hidden gem, and a contender for the best bookstore in the world.
Not dissimilar to another of my hidden gems, Maastricht’s monastery hotel the Kruisherenhotel, the Selexyz bookstore is housed in a converted 800-year-old Dominican church, originally built in 1294. The building hasn’t actually been used as a place of worship for hundreds of years. Napoleon is generally thought to have been the one that ordered its closure (it’s most recent previous incarnation was as a storage space for bicycles) but a requirement for allowing its conversion into a bookshop was that the church had to be completely preserved. This meant Amsterdam based architecture firm Merkx + Girold had to use free-standing scaffolding to construct the steel staircases and walkways that go up three floors. But their creativity paid off as the best bookstore in the world won the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize in 2007.
What’s also great about the best bookstore in the world is that it also sells some of the best coffee in Maastricht too. Coffeelovers has a branch inside the Selexyz bookstore, where the alter would have formerly been. Once you’ve finished browsing you can relax with coffee and cake at the cross-shaped reading table and appreciate the award-winning architecture, that includes a halo of lights. The best bookstore in the world is located in the centre of Maastricht on Dominikanerkerkstraat 1, about a five-minute walk from Vrijthof Square, so it’s also a great place to stop for a coffee if you’re out and about shopping.
It may well be the best bookstore in the world but sadly Selexyz, which was one of the biggest chains of bookstores in the Netherlands and owned the Selexyz Domincanen, went bankrupt in 2012. It was sold to Dutch investment company Procures which combined it with second hand bookstore chain De Slegte to become a new company called Polare. Unfortunately they also closed down their bookshops in the Netherlands a few months ago so the future of the best bookstore in the world is looking uncertain. Let’s pray this Maastricht hidden gem will still be opening its doors in years to come.