Margraten is a village in South Limburg, the southern most region of the Dutch province of Limburg. Located on the main road between Maastricht and Aachen, this town is mostly known for the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial that is located here. As there’s not all that much else to see or do, most people come here on a daytrip. Nonetheless, there are some options to stay and eat.
The military cemetery of Margraten is the 3rd largest World War II cemetery for unidentified soldiers in Europe and the final resting ground for no less than 8301 American soldiers. Many of the graves have been adopted by locals, who attend to the white marble crosses and sometimes place flowers. The American president George W. Bush visited the Margraten cemetery in May 2005. Although visits by other Americans, both relatives and former army comrades of the deceased used to be common, the number of people that comes here has decreased heavily over time.
The town itself is part of the municipality of Eijsden-Margraten. Other major population centers in this community include Cadier en Keer, Noorbeek, Mheer and Sint Geertruid.
Margraten is on the main road from Maastricht to Aachen, and therefore easily reachable over the N278 from both directions. Bus line 50 will bring you here from Maastricht, Vaals or Aachen. The military cemetery is served by many buses, including line 50, but also line 150 (Gulpen-Maastricht) and line 48 to Valkenburg.
There is no train station.
The nearest airport is Maastricht-Aachen Airport, which receives only a few international discount carriers. Better options are Cologne airport (about 1h. away), Dusseldorf airport (1,5h) or even Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (3h).
There’s not all that much to see apart from the cemetery. The town itself is small enough to explore on foot. The cemetery is about 1,5km out of the village centre, along the main road. Walking there is easy, but it also has its own bus stop called Militair Kerkhof, served by a range of bus lines. Line 50 can take you from the main road bus stop near the village centre to the entrance.
- Netherlands American Cemetery, 10 km east of Maastricht, on the N278. The World War II Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial is the final resting ground for 8.301 American soldiers who lost their life in this region during the Second World War. It is located on a hill in Margraten, along the ancient road from Maastricht to Aachen. Viewing the thousands of white crosses on the green fields and the tall Walls of the Missing, with the names of another 1722 missing American soldiers engraved, is a humbling and impressive experience.
- Sint-Margaritakerk, Pastoor Brouwersstraat 21. The 19th century church of Margraten is in the heart of the village. Its tower is older, late medieval, and the church as a whole is dedicated to Margaret the Virgin.