They took Naarden easily. Its defence works were old and poorly maintained. In the 17th century Naarden was a small fortified town overlooking a stretch of dry ground between the sea and the marshes of the river Vecht (the fortifications dated from the 1570s). After Louis XIV of France invaded the Netherlands in 1672 the fortifications were updated to modern standards. Most of the fortifications that exist today date from this period. The fortifications can be separated into two parts: the part facing the sea and the part facing the land.

During the 19th century the fortifications were updated, resulting in the construction of many new bomb shelters and other army-related buildings like barracks. At the end of the 19th century the increased fire power and range of the artillery made the defences at Naarden useless.

As a consequence of the new strategies used in warfare the emphasis of the fortifications went from the inner to the outer circuit - the covered way. In the 1890s a lot of bomb shelters were built here, most of which still exist. This gives a nice visible illustration of the progression in fortification.

After the First World War the need for Naarden as a fortress was over. The army left and it was turned into a monument and preserved just in time to prevent it from being demolished. You can walk around and inside Naarden freely - the covered way makes an excellent walking path to discover the fortifications.

One of the bastions holds a museum about the fortress, which gives a lot of information about the town's history. The museum also gives access to all the tunnels and casemates, making it a must in exploring the fortress.

The landward fortifications consist of arrow-headed bastions'connected by curtain walls, of which the lower sections were made of bricks. The flanks have two levels; the top level is on the top of the bastion and the lower part is just a few metres above the water. The lower part of the flank, which can be reached through a tunnel from the street behind the bastion gives access to 5 casemates'in the faces of the bastions and a powder magazine. From the lower flank a tunnel leads to a small pier, from which the outworks could be supplied by boat. Beyond the last casemate lies the listening tunnel; a long tunnel along the face of the bastion where guards were able to hear the enemy approaching on the water through holes in the roof.

The large bastion holds the arsenal (now a furniture showroom) as well as a sluice gate. This sluice was used to protect the harbour and to enable ships to come into the town from the sea. Two batardeaux'were built across the ditch to connect the sea dam with the town walls. Around the whole town there was a covered way'with a second ditch in front of it. The town had two gates, of which both the originals have been demolished. The Amsterdam gate doesn’t exist anymore and the current Utrecht gate dates from the 19th century. In the 20th century a third entrance into the town was made.

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Details

Founded: 17th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Netherlands

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4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

andrei dediu (2 years ago)
Loved the goats. Cool place.
Daniël Danse (2 years ago)
This is awesome, especially on "schuttersdagen" when they shoot some cannons, check the agenda for that one. It's an interesting experience to walk through the "vesting" and get a taste of how it was like living, working and fighting in the old days. Vesting stad Naarden is a beautiful and very interesting town with a rich but bloody history. You can walk around it, very photogenic and in the museum a lot of volunteers who are willing to explain things or show you around.
Wayne Kwan (2 years ago)
Interesting insight into this unique looking fortress. As much of it was in Dutch without English translation,it doesn't take much time to visit all the exhibitions. Because of this I feel like I was limited in what I could get out of it. We were told we could get a free coffee with I AMsterdam card but was told otherwise after ordering. More than happy to support the musuem but would appreciate it if the staff could get their facts correct to avoid future confusion and awkwardness. As buses to this area run infrequently, best to plan ahead to get most of your day.
Robin Scheurwater (2 years ago)
Didn't expect much. I was wrong. It's a excellent organised museum. Very interesting. Well preserved. I would advise to take the guided tour.
Justin Bunch (2 years ago)
Cool museum with fully restored casemates and cannon emplacements. Everything is in Dutch but it's more or self explanatory what the signs are talking about. Lots of good exhibits about the development of European fortification design and the Dutch Waterline defenses.
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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.