Castles and fortifications in Netherlands

Nyenrode Castle

Around 1260 knight Gerard Splinter van Ruwiel laid the first foundations for the Nyenrode castle. The location of the castle was well-chosen: a strategic spot on the narrowest part of the bank of the river Vecht. The river Vecht was part of the trade route from the town of Utrecht to the Zuiderzee (Dutch South Sea) and was situated in an area which was heavily disputed by the Bishops of Utrecht and the Counts of Holland. ...
Founded: 1260 | Location: Straatweg, Netherlands

Coevorden Castle

Coevorden Castle was built on an artificial hill - a so-called motte - near a ford (a “voorde”) in the river the Kleine Vecht. This koevoorde (lit. “cow ford”) gave the city its name. In 1046, German emperor Henry III gave the county of Drenthe to the bishop of Utrecht, who appointed a viscount, a hereditary title. In 1395, Bishop Frederik van Blankenheim brought this to an end, and decreed that ca ...
Founded: 1025/1522 | Location: Coevorden, Netherlands

Maurick Castle

The history of Maurick Castle dates to the 13th century. In 1629 the castle was occupied by Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange. Frederick Henry wanted to have the castle as his headquarters for his siege of 's-Hertogenbosch. The castle has been adapted to house a restaurant.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vught, Netherlands

Doorwerth Castle

The original Doorwerth castle, probably wooden, is first mentioned in 1260 when it was besieged and burned to the ground, after which it was rebuilt in stone. In 1280 this second castle was again besieged and this time the bailey was burned down. This castle probably consisted of a simple hall-keep, two stories high with 1.20 meter thick walls, and featured a surrounding moat which was fed by the nearby river Rhine. Duri ...
Founded: 1402-1560 | Location: Doorwerth, Netherlands

Bergh Castle

Huis Bergh (Huis Bergh) is one of the largest castles in the Netherlands. It gives its name to the Land van den Bergh and was previously owned by the counts van Bergh. The castle history dates back to the 13th century. The main parts of the castle are from the 14th, 15th and 17th century. In the beginning of the Dutch Revolt the house got damaged by war. In 1735 the castle burned down. In 1912 Huis Bergh and all belongi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: ´s-Heerenberg, Netherlands

Brielle Fortress

In 1572, during the Eighty Year War with the Spaniards, Sea Beggars (Calvinist Dutch nobles) captured Brielle. After this work began on replacing the Medieval town walls with a modern fortress. This process of modernisation and replacement continued until 1713. The fortress ring has nine bastions and five ravelins and was designed by the fortress builders Willem Paen and Menno van Coehoorn. Since 1713 there have been few ...
Founded: 1572-1713 | Location: Brielle, Netherlands

Château Neercanne

Château Neercanne (also known as Agimont) was built on a site that was already in use by the Romans. The caves, created by mining blocks to build the fortifications, still exist. They are now in use as the wine cellar of Neercanne. In 1465 the castle was destroyed by the people of Liège during the Liège Wars. The outbuildings and the prominent corner tower were built in 1611, in the style of the Mosan ...
Founded: 1611-1698 | Location: Maastricht, Netherlands

Duivenvoorde Castle

Duivenvoorde Castle was first mentioned in 1226, making it one of the oldest castles in South Holland. The castle is remarkable in that it has never been sold, which can be said of very few Dutch castles. It has passed by inheritance through several noble houses, sometimes through the matrilineal line. For the first five centuries of its history, the castle was owned by one family, the van Duivenvoordes, who gave their na ...
Founded: 1226 | Location: Voorschoten, Netherlands

Zuylen Castle

Slot Zuylen (Zuylen Castle) was originally built in the 13th century by lord van Suilen en Anholt as a simple donjon (tower). In 1422 during the Hook and Cod wars the castle was completely demolished. In 1510 rebuilding started. In 1752 the castle was modified nto a country mansion. It holds a tapestry by the Delft carpet weaver Maximiliaan van der Gught. Its past inhabitants include Steven van der Hagen and Belle van Zuy ...
Founded: 1510 | Location: Oud-Zuilen, Netherlands

Heeswijk Castle

Heeswijk Castle was originally built in the 11th century. The original motte was erected in 1080. During the subsequent centuries this motte was reduced and in its place a castle was built. Heeswijk Castle has played a crucial role in the history of the Netherlands. Around the year 1600 Prince Maurits twice failed to take the castle. Eventually, his half-brother Frederick Henry did, however, succeeded in capturing the ca ...
Founded: 1080 | Location: Heeswijk-Dinther, Netherlands

Fraeylemaborg

The Fraeylemaborg was one of the most important borg in the province of Groningen. These strong houses or keeps were built in the Middle Ages to store harvests and to protect their produce from robbers. Besides churches, these structures were the only buildings that used durable stone and masonry. In due time they grew to become centres of power and wealth. The Fraeylemaborg is located in the middle of the town of Slochte ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Slochteren, Netherlands

Duurstede Castle

Duurstede Castle dates from the 13th century. Around 1270, Zweder I van Zuylen van Abcoude built a freestanding keep on a raised and moated site near the lost city Dorestad. Until the beginning of the 15th century Duurstede Castle was in possession by the Van Zuylen van Abcoude family, until they were forced to sell it to the bishops of Utrecht in 1449. Bishop David of Burgundy, who reigned from 1459 to 1496, completely ...
Founded: 1270 | Location: Wijk bij Duurstede, Netherlands

Muiden Fortress

The fortress in Muiden, known as Muizenfort is part of the Stelling van Amsterdam, the UNESCO World Heritage site that consists of a set of forts around the city of Amsterdam. The defence line was 135 km long ring of fortifications around Amsterdam, consisting of 42 forts located between 10 to 15 kilometers the centre, and lowlands that can easily be flooded in time of war. The flooding was designed to give a depth of abo ...
Founded: 1880-1920 | Location: Muiden, Netherlands

Amerongen Castle

The Castle Amerongen was built in 1673 on the site of a previous stronghold that had been burned by the French troops during the invasion of 1672. The current building was designed by the architect Maurits Post as a baroque palace for the owners Godard Adriaan van Reede and his wife Margaretha Turnor. In the main hall a central staircase with painted ceiling was built by Willem van Nimwegen. Other ornaments were added in ...
Founded: 1673 | Location: Amerongen, Netherlands

Willemstad Fortress

In 1583 the Spanish took the town of Steenbergen situated just south of the current Willemstad. According to William I of Orange'this formed a threat for the rest of the Netherlands and he decided to fortify the village of Ruigenhil. William came into possession of the town after the new marquis took sides with the Spanish in 1567 and was discharged of his possession. As a dispensation for all the costs of the war William ...
Founded: 1583 | Location: Willemstad, Netherlands

Helmond Castle

Construction of the Helmond castle began somewhere around 1325. Helmond was the replacement of an older castle, known as ‘t Oude Huys, which stood hundreds of yards west of the castle. In 1981, excavations revealed the original structure’s dungeon and a few artifacts.In the 12th century, Helmond was in possession of the Hornes and the castle’s original owners were the Berlaer family, who were then succeeded by the C ...
Founded: 1325 | Location: Helmond, Netherlands

Radboud Castle

Kasteel Radboud is one of a number of castles in North Holland, the building was commissioned by Floris V. The exact date of building is not known but the castle was completed before the St. Lucia's Flood of 13 December 1287. On 24 June 1517 the castle saved some of the Medemblik townsfolk from the raids of Grutte Pier and his Arumer Zwarte Hoop (band of marauding pirates). On 12 August 1588 the castle surrendered to Die ...
Founded: 1287 | Location: Medemblik, Netherlands

Schaloen Castle

The original Schaloen castle was built in 1200 as a defensive fortress commissioned by the family Van Hulsberg. The remains can still be seen in the vaults of the present castle. Schaloen was an almost square building with on each corner two massive buttresses and guerite tower in the hood. The outbuildings were in the original castle on the right side of the main building. Nevertheless the castle almost completely burnt ...
Founded: 1656 | Location: Schin op Geul, Netherlands

Assumburg Castle

Assumburg Castle (Slot Assumburg) dates originally from the 13th century, but it was rebuilt in 1546. Since them it has been only a residence for several noble families due thin walls were not planned for defensive purposes. Since 1867 it was abandoned until 1911 and almost ruined. Today Assumburg and its gardens are restored and open to the public.
Founded: 1546 | Location: Heemskerk, Netherlands

Sterkenburg Castle

Sterkenburg Castle was probably built in the mid-1200s as a moated round tower house by a Gijsbert van Wulven. The castle remained in the hands of the Van Wulven family until 1456 when it came into the possession of a Wouter van Ijzendoorn through marriage. It remained in their possession for the following hundred years. During their ownership the castle was rebuilt; a square tower was added and a curtain wall was built a ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Driebergen-Rijsenburg, Netherlands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.