Medieval castles in Netherlands

Wittem Castle

Kasteel Wittem, now a national listed monument, was probably built in the 11th century. The oldest records in which the castle is mentioned date from 1125. The next century the castle was owned by the knights of Julémont. They started to call themselves Lords of Wittem. A title that was assumed by later owners. During their ownership in 1286, Reinoud, Count of Gelre, tried in vain to take the castle by surprise. In the e ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Wittem, Netherlands

Wedderborg

The Wedderborg first building was built shortly after 1362 by Egge Addinga. Today the main building is surrounded by a moat and consists of a 14th-century cellar, a 15th-century wing, and a 16th-century wing and tower. The Wedderborg is currently used as a hotel and restaurant.
Founded: 1362 | Location: Wedde, Netherlands

Onsenoort Castle

The earliest known document of Onsenoort Castle dates from 1286. The first castle was badly damaged and restored before 1372 in the border wars between local landlords. After it was changed hands several times the castle was again destroyed by French army in 1787. Today on the keep remains of a medieval castle. Current buildings were mainly built or restored in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Nieuwkuijk, Netherlands

Nemerlaer Castle

Nemerlaer Castle is a 14th-century castle named after the river Nemer and after Laer which means clearing in the forest. It was first mentioned in 1303, as home of Knight Geerlinck van den Bossche. Currently the castle is still inhabited. In the basement is a café. In addition there are cultural and public activities, such as exhibitions and concerts. The castle is also used for weddings.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Haaren, Netherlands

Doddendael Castle

Doddendael Castle is a medieval castle surrounded by a moat built in the 1430s. The castle had already been in the possession of various families when the Van Stepraedt family bought it in 1489 for 4,000 gold guilders. In 1526 they sold Doddendael to Duke Charles of Gelre, who used it as a base. In that same year, people of Nijmegen went on the rampage by boat, plundering the castle and setting it on fire. In 1528 the Van ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ewijk, Netherlands

Nyenbeek Castle Ruins

Nyenbeek (Nijenbeek Castle) was built in the early 1300s. The oldest document of castle dates from 1266. In the 14th century the original keep was enlarged to a square castle. Later Nyenbeek castle started to decay. Between 18th-20th centuries it was rebuilt again several times, but today only a keep remains.
Founded: c. 1310 | Location: Voorst, Netherlands

Den Ham Castle

Den Ham Castle, locally known as Kasteel Den Ham or Hamtoren was built probably in the 14th century (the lower part of tower and the great hall have survived). In the 19th century the castle was already mainly demolished. The castle has stood empty for quite some years but is now privately inhabited and can thus not be visited.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Vleuten-De Meern, Netherlands

Well Castle

Well Castle was built in the 14th century and consists of two buildings: the main Castle and the bailey. There are also two courtyards and two moats: an inner and outer moat. These moats once provided protection to the castle and today provide a place to swim for many birds including multiple varieties of ducks, black swans, and geese. Kasteel Well"s gardens are available for the public to walk around and admire the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Well, Netherlands

Genhoes Castle

Genhoes Castle was first mentioned in 1041. Then it was probably just a fortified tower house. In 1381 it was owned by a Johan van Alden-Valkenborch. Before 1444 it came into the hands of Jan "t Zievel. He left it to his son-in-law Hendrik van Ghoor. He, or his son Willem, probably built the present square tower and the west wing. The walls of the tower are around 1.6 meters thick. He also built a gate tower, which h ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Oud Valkenburg, Netherlands

Ewsum Castle

Ewsum castle (borg) was first time mentioned in 1371. Today the oldest part is a turret tower built in 1472.
Founded: 1472 | Location: Middelstum, Netherlands

Kasteel Stein

De Motte van dit kasteel komt naar alle waarschijnlijkheid uit de 10e eeuw, en is opgeworpen om de dreiging komende van de Maas tegen te gaan. De hoofdburcht of 'Bovenste Slot' omvat een Mottekasteel op een natuurlijke verhoging met een forse mergelstenen donjon uit ca. 1200, 'Witte Toren' genaamd. In de 13e eeuw werd een veelhoekige ringmuur om een binnenplein aangelegd. Van een tegen de ringmuur gebouwde grote zaal met ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stein, Netherlands

Castle d'Erp

Castle d'Erp (also known as Castle de Borcht) dates back to the 13th century, when it withstood sieges by William the Silent and Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange. The brick-made main building was built to the current appearance in the 14th-18th centuries. The castle is currently privately owned and not open the public.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Baarlo, Netherlands

Loenersloot Castle

Loenersloot Castle is located on the left bank of the river Angstel, accesible via a wooden lifting bridge. Although the Van Loenersloot family is mentioned already in 1156, the existence of this castle is first mentioned in 1258. The Loenersloot family, who played a rather important part in the life of the village in the 12th century, built the oldest parts of the castle. In 1516 the castle was bought by Amelis van Amst ...
Founded: 1258 | Location: Loenersloot, Netherlands

Bleijenbeek Castle Ruins

Bleijenbeek Castle was built of bricks around 1300. According to the 19th-century historian A.J. van der Aa, the castle is known for its numerous sieges by the armies of Guelders and Spain. In 1580, the castle was besieged by the forces of Guelders, but it was defended bravely by the lord of the castle, Marten Schenk. When the Duke of Parma sent cavalry, the besieging army had to retreat. In 1589, Schenk changed sides, an ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Afferden, Netherlands

Hindersteyn Castle

Hindersteyn Castle was built originally around 1300. The original tower still exists, but the main building dates mainly from the 19th century.
Founded: 1300 | Location: Langbroek, Netherlands

Blankenborg Castle Ruins

Blankenborg Castle was built in the 15th century. Today only one corner tower and fragments remain.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Beuningen, Netherlands

Dever Castle

The Huys Dever is a small castle probably built shortly after 1375 by Reinier Dever or d'Ever, a member of an old noble family from Holland. The castle was a typical stronghold that was at one time situated on the edge of a lake called the Lisser Poel (since poldered in) that itself was in connection to the Haarlemmermeer (itself a polder since in 1853). In 1630 a stately home was built on to the tower and became a summer ...
Founded: c. 1375 | Location: Lisse, Netherlands

Rivieren Castle

Rivieren Castle was first mentioned in 1364 and it was originally a monastery. The current castle dates from the 19th century.
Founded: 19th century | Location: Klimmen, Netherlands

Hardenbroek Castle

Hardenbroek Castle was first time mentioned in 1331. The castle is a square form house built to the site of original keep maybe around 1260 by Gijsbert van Wulven. The present day appearance dates from the restorations made in 1694, 1762 and 1789. Today Hardenbroek is privately owned.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Driebergen-Rijsenburg, Netherlands

Schonauwen Castle Ruins

Schonauwen Castle was established in 1261 and demolished in 1812. The oldest plan is known from 1646, when it was a square form moated building enclosed from the three sides. Today only a tower has survived.
Founded: 1261 | Location: Houten, Netherlands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.