Medieval castles in Netherlands

Brederode Castle Ruins

Brederode castle was founded in the second half of the 13th century by William I van Brederode (1215–1285). William was a descendant of the lords van Teylingen, who were related to the counts of Holland. The castle formed part of the high lordship Brederode, which had been given in loan in the 13th century to the lords of Brederode by the count of Holland. The name Brederode is a reference to a wooded area called Brede ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Santpoort-Zuid, 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

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

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

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

Limbricht Castle

Limbricht Castle originates from the 10th century. It was first a motte castle with a wooden tower. The stone buildings were erected around 1250. During the 80 years war the army of Duke of Parma looted the castle (1579). During the Napoleon wars it was a military hospital (1813-1814) and during the World War I an internment camp for German prisoners-of-war. The current castle building dates from the early 1600s and is bu ...
Founded: 1250 | Location: Limbricht, Netherlands

Twickel Castle

Twickel Castle was between 1347-1953 in the possession of members of the same family: Van Twickelo, Van Raesfelt, Van Wassenaer Obdam and Van Heeckeren van Wassenaer.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Delden, Netherlands

Rosendael Castle

Around 1300, Rosendael Castle came into the hands of the counts and later dukes of Gelre. Of the 20 castles in the dukedom, Rosendael was the favourite of many dukes, because of its beautiful location on the edge of the Veluwe moraine. The large medieval complex contained a forecourt, a main fortress and a substantial donjon. Only the round donjon has survived the ravages of time. It has walls of up to 4 metres thick and ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Rozendaal, Netherlands

Ammersoyen Castle

Ammersoyen castle was originally built in 1350 by Dirk van Herlaer along the river Maas. Ammersoyen was a unique castle as it was built using a fixed plan, which was unlike other castles built during this era. The design included four wings that were constructed around a center court. Each corner had its own heavy tower for extra protection. The castle included a gatehouse and was originally surrounded by a moat. At the t ...
Founded: 1350s | Location: Ammerzoden, Netherlands

Keverberg Castle

Keverberg castle was built originally in the 9th century castle, today only ruins are left. The castle is used as a wedding location and for events and concerts.
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Kessel, 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

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

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

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

Westhove Castle

Westhove Castle was probably built in the beginning of the 13th century. It consisted of a moated castle and bailey separated by a moat. The bailey had three entrances and two round towers. The castle itself also had two towers. The castle and the surrounding lands became the property of the Abbey of Middelburg in 1277. It served as the summer residence of the abbots. Around 1560 the castle"s west side was extended. ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oostkapelle, Netherlands

Menkemaborg

The Menkemaborg was originally brick-built castle house built in the 14th century. It was dramatically altered around 1700 but has since been barely changed. The Alberda family, the 18th-century occupants, commissioned artists to decorate the interior with impressive chimney-pieces carved with baroque ornaments, and paintings of mythological scenes. A four-poster bed, draped with yellow silk damask from China, has also be ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Uithuizen, 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

Hernen Castle

The origins of Hernen lie to the west of the present castle, next to the river Elst. That is where the first motte castle of Hernen was sited, and remained in use until the 12th/13th century. This was possibly also the fortress of the Lords of Hernen, who first appear in the records in 1247. The lord received income through taxes and special privileges, such as the milling rights. This income enabled him to extend his cas ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Hernen, Netherlands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.