Medieval castles in Netherlands

Slangenburg Castle

Slangenburg Castle was constructed in the Late Medieval period. In the 17th century the castle became the property of General Frederik Johan van Baer, also known as General Slangenburg, who rebuilt it for residential purposes. The last private owners were a German family called Passmann, who are buried in a private cemetery next to the moat. After the World War II all German properties were confiscated by the Dutch gover ...
Founded: 1354 | Location: Doetinchem, 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

St. Salvius Church

The oldest mural paintings in the Netherlands are hidden in a beautiful church on the outskirts of Sittard-Geleen. It might be somewhat confusing that there are two churches with the same name in the same village, but you can probably skip the new church in the centre that was built in 1922. The church replaced the ancient one at the castle, which you definitely shouldn"t miss if you"re in the region. The histo ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Limbricht, 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

Teylingen Castle Ruins

Slot Teylingen was presumably the family keep of the noble family Van Teylingen, from which the Van Brederode family directly descended. The castle was originally built to protect the north-south route in Hollandic territory. Later it became a forester"s castle for the forestry of the counts of Holland, starting with William IV, count of Holland. One of the best known inhabitants of the castle was Jacoba of Bavaria, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sassenheim, 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

Batenburg Castle Ruins

Batenburg Castle construction was probably started around the year 1300. The castle was rebuilt in 1600 on the foundations of an earlier structure; The present castle was destroyed by fire in 1795 and is now preserved as ruins: the ring wall with towers, the remains of three extended round towers with a basement underneath and the remains of the gatehouse. These are flanked by semicircular towers, all built with limestone ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Batenburg, Netherlands

Heusden Castle Ruins

The settlement of Heusden, bordering on the river Meuse (Maas), as we know it today dates back to the 13th century, and started with the construction of a fortification to replace the castle that was destroyed by the Duke of Brabant in 1202. This fortification was quickly expanded with water works and a donjon (castle keep). The city of Heusden received city rights in 1318. The castle of Heusden was the property of succes ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Heusden, Netherlands

Deurne Small Castle

The predecessor of Deurne Castle, so-called 'small castle' is on the other side of the road. The small castle is originally medieval, but in the 19th century it was extended. Near the castle you will find a watermill.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Deurne, Netherlands

Deurne Castle

Deurne Castle was built shortly before 1387 by Gevaert Everaertszoon van Doerne on a sandy elevation in the swampy valley of a small stream the Vlier. It was a square building with several turrets. Due to the thickness of the walls it probably didn"t have a real military purpose. In 1511 the castle was burned down by the Geldersen but was rebuilt. Only to be plundered by Spanish troops in 1599. In 1645 the bailiff O ...
Founded: c. 1387 | Location: Deurne, Netherlands

Oude Loo Castle

The Oude Loo castle was built in the 15th century. In 1684, the castle and the surrounding land was bought by William III of Orange. On this land, he had Het Loo Palace built. The castle was used by the court, among other things as an apothecary. In the 19th century the castle came in the hands of Louis Napoleon who filled up the moat. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands had the castle and the moat restored by architect P ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Apeldoorn, Netherlands

Beesde Castle

The Beesde Castle was first mentioned in 1395. Today it consists of two parts: a 14th century tower and 17th century manor called Cammingha house.
Founded: 1395 | Location: Bunnik, Netherlands

Wijenburg Castle

Wijenburg was an important castle in the Duchy of Guelders and the Lords of Echteld who lived in the castle enjoyed great prestige until there was a disagreement between the Duke of Guelders and Lord Otto van Wijhe in 1492. At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle was saved from demolition by Baron Van Verschuer and restored by Stichting Geldersche Kasteelen national heritage foundation. The history of Wijenburg ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Echteld, 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

Kinkelenburg Castle

The earliest mention of Kinkelenburg castle dates from 1403, when Johan van Ambe was lent "a house and a homestead with waterways and moat at Bemmel". The castle probably consisted then of a square stone tower-house (built around 1300), the foundations of which lie beneath the present building. Soon afterwards, the status of village castle was changed to the present "Huis te Bemmel". Kinkelenburg was c ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Bemmel, Netherlands

Rhoon Castle

Rhoon Castle as we know today was built in 1430 by Pieter the Seventh of Duiveland. He was a descendant of Biggo van Duiveland, who built the original castle which dated back to 1199. The coats of arms of the many illustrious families who lived in the castle can be seen in the stained-glass windows in the Catharina Theresia Room. Thoroughly restored in 1975, the castle is now regarded as one of the most beautiful restaura ...
Founded: 1430 | Location: Rhoon, Netherlands

Nederhemert Castle

Nederhemert Castle has been built, rebuilt and expanded numerous times throughout its turbulent history. It started life as a keep in the 13th century and was expanded into a polygonal castle with four towers over several centuries. In 1945, the castle was destroyed by fire and fell into ruin. It was restored to its former glory in 2005. Nederhemert castle is situated on an ancient bend in the river Maas. As with many ca ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Nederhemert, 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

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

Mheer Castle

A stone house on the site of current Mheer Castle was first mentioned in 1314. It was probably built long before that, because the Lords of Mheer were already mentioned around 1100. In the 14th century the castle went to the Van Imstenraedt family through marriage. The castle stayed in this family until 1668, then it went to the De Loë family. They still own the castle. The castle is situated against the slope of a hill ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Mheer, 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.