Medieval castles in 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

Croy Castle

The oldest parts of the Croy castle were probably built in the 15th century. There is not much known about the history of the castle. Jacob van Croÿ, Bishop of Cambrai was in 1477 owner of the land, but a house is not mentioned. In the 16th century villages in the neighbourhood were several times demolished, probably also the castle (but this is not recorded). The last inhabitant was Freule (Lady) Constance van der ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Aarle-Rixtel, Netherlands

Duivenvoorde Castle

Duivenvoorde Castle was first mentioned in 1226, making it one of the oldest castles in South Holland. The castle is remarkable in that it has never been sold, which can be said of very few Dutch castles. It has passed by inheritance through several noble houses, sometimes through the matrilineal line. For the first five centuries of its history, the castle was owned by one family, the van Duivenvoordes, who gave their na ...
Founded: 1226 | Location: Voorschoten, 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

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

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

Rechteren Castle

Rechteren Castle was built in the 13th century, however today only the 30 meter high tower remains of this first castle. The current appeance dates from the early 14th century. Today the castle is still occupied by the Van Heeckerens family which has been in possession of the castle since the 1300s. Throughout the century, the castle has undergone numerous renovations and has been rebuilt due to siege. With 40 rooms and ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dalfsen, Netherlands

Skierstins

The Skierstins is a medieval stone house built around 1300. It is the only remaining Stienhús in Friesland and is listed as Rijksmonument. The building is first mentioned in 1439 on a piece of parchment.
Founded: 1300 | Location: Feanwâlden, 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

Lunenburg Castle

Lunenburg Castle was first mentioned in 1339 and it was probably owned by the Van Zijl family. The tower house itself was first mentioned in 1400. In 1402 it was given as a fief to Ghijsbrecht van Lockhorst. In 1680 Lunenburg Castle was enlarged with residential wings and stables which were built against the medieval tower house. In 1860 the owner at that time, a member of the Van Swinderen family, rebuilt the castle. Th ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Langbroek, 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

Strijen Castle Ruins

All that remains of the former Strijen Castle is a single tower fragment of seven storeys high. The building of Strijen Castle probably started in 1288 by Willem Willemszoon van Strijen. Strangely enough the bailey was situated on the territory of the County of Holland and the castle itself on the territory of the Duchy of Brabant. In 1324 the castle was bought by Willem van Duivenvoorde who reinforced and renovated it. W ...
Founded: 1288 | Location: Oosterhout, 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

Zwijnsbergen Castle

The original Zwijnsbergen Castle was a fortified manor in the Middle ages. The oldest parts of the current castle were built in the mid-1400s. The tower dates from around 1552. The current main building was erected in the 17th century and restored in 1817. Today Zwijnsbergen castle is privately owned.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Helvoirt, 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

Hatert Manor

Until recently very little was known about the building history of Huis Hatert. The tower was probably built in the second half of the 14th century. The west and south sides of the building show signs of walls that were once attached to the tower, which makes it likely that the tower used to form a part of a greater complex and that it served as a gate tower located on one of the corners of a lager castle. Its relatively ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Nijmegen, 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

Moermond Castle

The first Moermond Castle was built between 1229-1244, and it was rebuilt around 1339. The current appearance dates mainly from the restoration made in 1513. Today the moat-surrounded castle is a hotel and conference center.
Founded: 1229-1513 | Location: Renesse, 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 Br ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Santpoort-Zuid, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.