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Hendrik Jacob Ghier was commissioned to build the Main Guard at the end of 1736. Two years later the building was completed, but it had to be completely rebuilt in 1774 due to poor foundations. The building once served as the nerve centre of the military garrison, which numbered eleven thousand soldiers in its heyday.

The Main Guard was the building where the city guards stayed and where the keys of the city gates and other fortifications were kept. From here the guard was distributed among the gates. It also housed a small force with a few cannons, which in case of danger had to be the first to come into action and sound the alarm. On the Vrijthof troops were inspected and military punishments were also carried out. For example next to the Main Guardhouse there was a wooden horse, a punishment instrument for lighter offences.
The military guard building is a reminder of Maastricht's eventful time as a fortress and garrison town. Maastricht's strategic location: the most coomon route for the armies, which had to travel from north to south and vice versa ran through the Maas valley. Because of this, the city endured several sieges in the course of time. Dutchmen, Spaniards and Frenchmen regularly stood with their armies before the city gates. This building serves as the command centre of the armies which were stationed in Maastricht.

Since 1967 the Regimental Commander of the Regiment Limburg Hunters was housed here. With the official departure of the Limburg Hunters on 9 March 2006 the last soldiers left Maastricht. The Ministry of Defence had no other use for the Hoofdwacht. Therefore the building was sold to the Municipality of Maastricht. The condition of sale was that the building would get a public function. The Municipality of Maastricht now uses the space mainly as an exhibition space, and since 2016 the Hoofdwacht can also be used as a wedding location.

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