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

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Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.