Around 1260 knight Gerard Splinter van Ruwiel laid the first foundations for the Nyenrode castle. The location of the castle was well-chosen: a strategic spot on the narrowest part of the bank of the river Vecht. The river Vecht was part of the trade route from the town of Utrecht to the Zuiderzee (Dutch South Sea) and was situated in an area which was heavily disputed by the Bishops of Utrecht and the Counts of Holland.
The Lords Nyenrode dedicated their castle to the Count of Holland. The Castle was destroyed in 1481 and in 1511. In 1539 the Barons Van den Bongard inherited the Domain of Nyenrode. Bernard van den Bongard III turned the castle into a castle-manor between 1632 and 1642. He also modernized the appearance of the building. The castle thus was given the typical characteristics of a knightly mansion in the Dutch Renaissance style, namely a house with a castle-like form and a drawbridge.
In 1672, the French had their headquarters at Nyenrode. As the troops of Stadtholder William III, Prince of Orange and later also King of England, advanced, the French set fire to the castle on 6 September 1673. Johan Ortt, who bought the Castle in 1675, repaired the damage caused by the fire. From 1675 to 1853 Nyenrode was owned by the Ortt family. They were merchants (cloth manufacturers and corn merchants) in Amsterdam. The family bought Nyenrode together with the Domain Breukelen for 40,000 Dutch Guilders.
From 1853, two generations of the industrial family De Heus were the owners of the Castle. From 1907 to 1934 Michiel Onnes (a German coffee-merchant) lived at Nyenrode. He restored the castle and the surrounding park to its former glory of the period of Van den Bongard. Between 1916 and 1918 the gatehouse was built and the coach house reconstructed. The keep was completely rebuilt on its old foundation as well and raised one storey. Subsequently, the art-dealer Jacques Goudstikker owned the estate. He died in an accident in May 1940, while fleeing for the German occupants.
After World War II, Ms Désirée Goudstikker, who then owned the entire property, let Nyenrode to the Foundation Nederlands Opleidings-Instituut voor het Buitenland (Dutch Foreign Service Training Institute) in 1946. Soon afterwards, she sold it to the Foundation Nyenrode. The Nederlands Opleidings-Instituut voor het Buitenland (N.O.I.B.) later became Nyenrode Business Universiteit.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.