Heukelum Castle, also known for a long time as Merckenburg, is situated just outside the old fortified town of Heukelum on the border of Gelderland and South Holland. The illustrious Van Arkel family had the castle built in around 1286. It was once a sturdy castle with towers, a courtyard, a double moat and a fortified bailey. Nowadays, it has the appearance of an 18th-century country house.

The reason why Jan van Arkel had the castle built in around 1286 has to do with the crusades. When the knight Jan van Arkel was encamped beneath the walls of Jerusalem during the Fifth Crusade, he had a vision. Tradition has it that the Archangel Gabriel appeared above the walls of Jerusalem and said, ‘Go where this swan takes you and build your castle there.’ Jan van Arkel sailed in his ship behind the swan and when the swan settled in Heukelum, the family gave orders for a castle to be built there.Arkel WarHeukelum Castle was one of nine castles intended to strengthen the family’s position along the turbulent border between Guelders and Holland. All of them were destroyed during the Arkel War (1401-1412) except Heukelum. Merckenburg Castle is therefore the last remaining castle of the Arkel family. For a long time, Heukelum remained an important manorial court; a mini-state with its own currency and various privileges.

In Het Rampjaar of 1672 (literally the year of disaster, which marked the start of the Franco-Dutch War of 1672-1678), the troops of the French kingLouis XIVmarched into Holland. They were held back by the waterline, whereupon the French plundered and burned all of the buildings situated south of this temporary border. Heukelum, by then an obsolete fortress, succumbed to the same fate and the castle and the town were severely damaged. It is a miracle that the medieval gate tower is still standing. In 1732, a double Amsterdam canal house was built against the old tower.

Today, Heukelum Castle is a private residence and is not open to the public.

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Founded: 1286
Category: Castles and fortifications in Netherlands

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4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Alina Cuc (4 months ago)
I pass by this wonderful place in Heukelum twice a week. I wanted to see the castle (if it can be called that...) but, unfortunately, access to the property was forbidden. My five stars are for the surroundings. ????????????????☘?????
Trammein Ndlovu (2 years ago)
The forest is amazingly beautiful.
Jan Coers (3 years ago)
Beautiful castle. Not viewable from the inside.
Rob C (3 years ago)
Nice to take pictures of the castle from the road. There is also an information board about the castle. Piece of Dutch history dating back to the Crusaders.
Riviera Fotograaf (5 years ago)
Prachtig!!!
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