Castles and fortifications in Netherlands

Waag

The Waag ('weigh house') was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam. It is the oldest remaining non-religious building in Amsterdam. The gate, called as Sint Antoniespoort (Saint Anthony"s Gate), was part of the medieval city walls along the moat formed by the current Singel canal and the canals of the Kloveniersburgwal and the Geldersekade. These walls were constructed during the period ...
Founded: 1481–1494 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Munttoren

The Munttoren ('Coin Tower') was originally part of the Regulierspoort, one of the main gates in Amsterdam"s medieval city wall. The gate, built in the years 1480, consisted of two towers and a guard house. The name of the tower refers to the fact that it was used to mint coins in the 17th century. After the gate went up in flames in a 1618 fire, only the guard house and part of the western tower remained ...
Founded: 1620 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Schreierstoren

The Schreierstoren, originally part of the medieval city wall of Amsterdam, was built in the 15th century. It was the location from which Henry Hudson set sail on his journey to Northern America. This expedition would lead to the discovery of the island of Manhattan among others. It was built as a defense tower in 1481. It is currently a café.
Founded: 1481 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Arcen Castle

Arcen Castle was built in 1653 to the site of older castle destroyed in 1646. The origins date back to the 14th century. Castle gardens are today open to the public.
Founded: 1653 | Location: Arcen, Netherlands

Castle de Haar

Castle de Haar is the largest and most fairytale-like castle in the Netherlands. The current buildings, all built upon the original castle, date from 1892 and are the work of Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers, in a Neo-Gothic restoration project funded by the Rothschild family. The oldest historical record of a building at the location of the current castle dates to 1391. In that year, the family De Haar received the castle ...
Founded: 1391/1892 | Location: Vleuten-De Meern, Netherlands

Burcht van Leiden

The Burcht van Leiden is an old shell keep in Leiden constructed in the 11th century. It is located at the spot where two tributaries of the Rhine come together, the Leidse Rijn, and another river, now a canal. The structure is on top of a motte, and is today a public park. From humble beginnings, the hill was raised during various periods of history up to 9 meters above the surrounding landscape in the 11th century. Ada ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Leiden, Netherlands

Landsfort Herle

Landsfort Herle was a fortification with moat. It was probably built by the counts van Ahr-Hochstaden (also referd to as Here van Are). The name Landsfort (‘fort of the land’) comes from the fact that the fortification come under the responsibility of the land. In the 13th century Heerlen, and thus also Landsfort Herle, come in to the possession of the Dukes of Brabant, the Landsfort was (re)built by the Dukes ...
Founded: 1244 | Location: Heerlen, Netherlands

Montelbaanstoren

The Montelbaanstoren is a tower on bank of the canal Oudeschans. The original tower was built in 1516 for the purpose of defending the city. The top half, designed by Hendrick de Keyser, was extended to its current, decorative form in 1606.
Founded: 1516 | Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Muiderslot

The Muiderslot is one of the better known castles in the Netherlands and has been featured in many television shows set in the Middle Ages. The history of castle begins with Count Floris V who built a stone castle at the mouth of the river back in 1280, when he gained command over an area that used to be part of the See of Utrecht. The River Vecht was the trade route to Utrecht, one of the most important trade towns of th ...
Founded: 1370 | Location: Muiden, Netherlands

Bourtange Fortress

Near the German border, in Westerwolde (Southeast Groningen), is the fortress Bourtange. In 1580 William of Orange gave the order to build a fort on the sand ridge in the Bourtanger moor, on the border of modern Germany. On the order of William Louis of Nassau the fortress was raised in 1593. Between 1593 and 1851 Bourtange was an important fortress. An agrarian village came into being when the fortress was dismantled ...
Founded: c. 1593 | Location: Bourtange, Netherlands

Fort Hoofddijk

Fort Hoofddijk was built in 1879 as one of the fortifications around Utrecht that formed part of the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie, or "New Dutch waterline". This defense line made use of inundating parts of Holland to stop the advance of the enemy, but because Utrecht was on relatively high ground, it needed an additional ring of fortifications. Today the Botanical Gardens of Utrecht University are located at th ...
Founded: 1879 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Koppelpoort

The Koppelpoort is a medieval gate in Amersfoort. The gate was built between 1380 and 1425 as part of the second city wall. The whole wall was completed around 1450. The gate was attacked in 1427 during the siege of the city, but this attack was repelled. The gate was opened and closed every day by the appointed 'wheel-turners'. A minimum of twelve wheel-turners were collected morning and evening by several gua ...
Founded: 1380-1425 | Location: Amersfoort, Netherlands

Oostpoort

The eastern gate (Oostpoort) in Delft, Netherlands, is an example of Brick Gothic northern European architecture that was built around 1400. Around 1510, the towers were enhanced with an additional octagonal floor and high spires. This is the only city gate remaining in Delft; the others were demolished in the 19th century. It currently serves as an art gallery and private residence.
Founded: 1400 | Location: Delft, Netherlands

Breda Castle

In the 12th century, a fortress was located at Breda. The city of Breda came into existence near the fortress. In 1350, the Duke of Brabant sold Breda to Jan II of Polanen (Baron of Breda). He reinforced the castle with four towers and a channel. His daughter Johanna of Polanen married in 1403 the German Duke Engelbert I of Nassau. Their son Jan IV of Nassau enlarged the castle. Henry III of Nassau-Breda changed the cast ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Breda, Netherlands

Fort Vechten

Fort Vechten was constructed between 1867 and 1870 as part of the so-called Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie (The "New Dutch Water Line") to defend the cities of the western Netherlands from overland attack. The history of Vechten dates however back to the Roman times. The Romans, who apparently chose the spot because it controlled a side-arm of the Lower Rhine, built their castellum by the year 4 AD, and possibly n ...
Founded: 1867-1870 | Location: Utrecht, Netherlands

Woerden Castle

There was originally a Roman castellum (Castellum Laurum) in Woerden, as part of the limes of the Roman Empire and thus part of the defense lines of the northern border of the Roman Empire. The first castellum was built in the 40s AD, and was destroyed in 69 AD during the Batavian rebellion. In 70 AD the castellum was rebuilt, and the Romans remained until 402 AD, with an interruption lasting from about 275-300 AD. The Ca ...
Founded: c. 1160 | Location: Woerden, Netherlands

Hoensbroek Castle

Castle Hoensbroek or Gebrookhoes is one of the largest castles in the Netherlands. This imposing watercastle is known as "the most lordly stronghold between Rhine and Meuse". The oldest part of the castle, notably the tall round tower, dates from around 1360, when it was built by Herman Hoen, though a predecessor to the castle had already existed in the swamp (or Gebrook) the castle was located in. This so-calle ...
Founded: 1360 | Location: Hoensbroek, Netherlands

Naarden Fortress

They took Naarden easily. Its defence works were old and poorly maintained. In the 17th century Naarden was a small fortified town overlooking a stretch of dry ground between the sea and the marshes of the river Vecht (the fortifications dated from the 1570s). After Louis XIV of France invaded the Netherlands in 1672 the fortifications were updated to modern standards. Most of the fortifications that exist today date from ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Naarden, Netherlands

Sassenpoort

The Sassenpoort is a gatehouse in the citywall of Zwolle, Netherlands. It was build in 1409 after Zwolle city became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1407. The city gates represent the wealth of this period. In the period between 1893 and 1898 restoration work took place. The dormers were made, and a neogothic spire clock tower was installed, replacing an earlier 18th century spire. In between the corner towers is a ma ...
Founded: 1409 | Location: Zwolle, Netherlands

Loevestein Castle

Loevestein Castle (Slot Loevestein in Dutch) is a medieval castle built by the knight Dirc Loef van Horne (hence 'Loef's stein') between 1357 and 1397. It was built in a strategic location where the Maas and Waal rivers come together. At first it was a simple square brick building, used to charge toll from trading vessels using the rivers. In the 16th century (around 1575, orders given by William the Silent) it was expand ...
Founded: 1357-1397 | Location: Poederoijen, Netherlands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Cochem Castle

The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.

In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.

The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.

In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.

Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.

In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.