Medieval castles 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

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

Brakel Castle

The earliest mention of Brakel Castle dates from the mid-13th century. At that time, it was a square, moated castle, situated close to the village of Brakel behind the newly-built Waaldijk dike. In 1321, the castle was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire. This led the knight Sir Eustachius van Brakel to lend his castle to the Count of Guelders in exchange for the count’s protection. Unfortunately, this was not ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Brakel, 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

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

Waardenburg Castle

Waardenburg Castle dates from the 13th century. Only half of the original building remains: the south wing was destroyed in the Eighty Years’ War and was never rebuilt. Legend has it that the infamous Doctor Faust lived in the castle. At the end of his pact with the devil he was said to have been thrown from the castle tower. The precise construction date of medieval castles is seldom known yet in this case, Waardenbur ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Waardenburg, Netherlands

Valkenburg Castle Ruins

In the year 1115, fortifications were erected at the site by Gosewijn I, Lord of Valkenburg. This original wooden keep survived until 1122 when it was destroyed under siege by Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor. The castle was rebuilt in the following centuries but was again destroyed in a siege, this time by Jan III, Duke of Brabant. The current ruins are those of the castle rebuilt in the 14th century. The castle was blown up ...
Founded: 1115 | Location: Valkenburg, 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

Wageningen Castle Ruins

Because of its strategic location Wageningen was granted city rights as early as the 13th century. To strengthen the city Duke Charles of Guelders built a castle shortly after 1500. An imposing 17th-century model of the fortified town with its moat, walls, towers and castle makes up the centerpiece of the history room of the museum. After the destruction of the castle by French troops in 1672 the then lord of the castle, ...
Founded: 1500-1526 | Location: Wageningen, Netherlands

Vorden Castle

Vorden castle was mentioned first time in 1315. In 1580 it was looted in the Eighty Years War. It was left to decay after the Second World War until restoration took place in 1976.
Founded: 1315 | Location: Vorden, Netherlands

Bethlehem Castle

Bethlehem Castle was built in the 13th century. In 1311 it became to possession of Teutonic Knights, who named the castle after Bethlehem in Holy Land. In 1796 the castle was confiscated by French revolutionary army and sold to the private hands again. Today the castle is a Hotel Management School.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Maastricht, Netherlands

Kleef castle Ruins

The Huis ter Kleef castle was probably built in the late 13th century. In 1403 it was given to Margaret of Cleves (c.1375-1411), and has since retained that name. During the Siege of Haarlem in 1572 it was the headquarters of the Spanish army, under the leadership of the duke of Alva. It was blown up in 1573 and badly damaged, the rubble was used for city expansion. The house nearby with a tower called the 'Kaatsbaan ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Haarlem, 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

Stapelen Castle

The castle in Stapelen was first time mentioned in 1293 when it was donated to Willem I van Boxtel. Hendrik Mahie restored the castle in the 19th century to the current Neo-Gothic appearance. The oldest parts of the castle, like the octagonal tower, date from the Middle Ages and the walls from the 16th century. The chapel has a altar from the 17th century. Today Stapelen castle is a monastery.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Boxtel, Netherlands

Haamstede Castle

Haamstede Castle (Slot Haamstede) was built originally in the 12th century and it probably consisted of a wooden keep on a motte, circled by a moat. There is also archeological evidence of Roman habitation on this site. Around 1200 this castle came into the possession of Floris IV, Count of Holland. In 1229 the castle went to the Lords of Zierikzee through an exchange with Floris IV. The new inhabitants of the castle call ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Burgh-Haamstede, Netherlands

Bouvigne Castle

Bouvigne Castle origins are not known. It appears in official documents for the first time in 1554, in the testament Jacob van Brecht. Here it is described as a stately stone building surrounded by water. Over time the castle has been extended. It began as a stone house to which a tower was added (between 1554 and 1611). Over the following three years further modifications were made to the building and the tower extended ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Breda, Netherlands

Ruurlo Castle

The history of Ruurlo Castle is inextricable from the history of the noble Van Heeckeren family, who managed the castle and the estate from the beginning of the 15th century through to 1977. Since 2012, and thanks to the dedication of local patronHans Melchers, this impressive castle has been given a new lease of life as a museum. Ruurlo Castle is of a venerable age, appearing in archives from as early as the 14th centur ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ruurlo, Netherlands

Dussen Castle

Although the official date of the Dussen castle’s establishment was during the 13th century, there was likely a fortified house on the property long before the present-day castle. The castle’s dungeon was built in 1330 by John VI of Heusden and in 1387, permission was granted to extend the modest keep into a real castle. In 1418, the castle was passed down to Arent’s son. Just three years later, the castle would be ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dussen, Netherlands

Doornenburg Castle

Originally the Doornenburg castle was a fortified manor built in the 9th century, under the name Villa Dorenburc. In the 13th century it was converted into a modest castle. Through the centuries the castle was expanded further into the current form. The front-castle was built in the 15th century. The front-castle contains sleeping quarters, a chapeland a farm, the last being a unique feature for a Dutch castle. It is one ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Doornenburg, Netherlands

Ter Worm Castle

Ter Worm or Terworm Castle has existed since the 14th century and has been inhabited by several noble families. Originally it was a square building, fronted by a round tower and a rectangular tower and built around a walled courtyard. The first known owner was the Lord of Strijthagen in 1476, when the castle was a moated building fortified by external walls outside the moat. In 1498 the castle came into possession of the ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Heerlen, Netherlands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.