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General´s House

Theater aan het Vrijthof

Before 1800 the convent of the White Women, who owed their name to their completely white attire, was located on the northern side of the Vrijthof.
In the French era the convent was confiscated and sold as an estate to the wealthy tobacco and madder merchant Petrus Franciscus de Ceuleneer, who processed and sold these products in his shop 'de gouden windmolen' on Grote Staat 54.
He had the convent complex demolished, and on the foundations of the convent chapel he built a large city palace in neoclassical style designed by the architect and painter François Balthasar Hermans (1745-1804).

North side of the Vrijthof with the Wittevrouwen cloister chapel 1670

When it was confiscated in 1796, the statue of the Black Christ that hung in the convent's chapel was first hidden and then moved to St. Martin's Church in Wyck, where it still hangs today and is venerated as one of the four city devotions (St. Servatius, Star of the Sea, St. Lambert and Black Christ) and is carried along in the Heiligdomsvaart (= shrine procession).

In 1825 General Baron Bernardus Franciscus Dibbets, then commander of the Maastricht fortress, bought the De Ceuleneer house for 35,640 guilders. The name of the general's house is also derived from this general. Dibbets managed to keep Maastricht for the Kingdom of the Netherlands during the Belgian revolt. After him a number of notables lived in the General's House, among them Generals van der Capellen and Des Tombe, both commanders of Maastricht as well.

From 1915 to the end of 1977 it served as police headquarters, city archives and library. From 1989 to 1992 the Theater at the Vrijthof, designed by architect Arno Meijs, was built behind the General's House facade. The last visible remnants of the monastery disappeared.


In the facade of the city palace built by de Ceuleneerthere is a pediment with the relief of the Liege sculptor Mathieu Tombay, who depicted the personifications of agriculture and trade.

And above the gates, as a keystone and as a decoration, the head of a wild man or giant has been mounted, which is sometimes mistaken for a gaper because of its open mouth, but it is not.
Above the carriage entrance in the rear facade, which has meanwhile disappeared, there was a third wild man's head, which was eventually replaced by the Bonnefanten museum on Markt 67 and executed in gold.

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