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.References:
Bamberg is located in Upper Franconia on the river Regnitz close to its confluence with the river Main. Its historic city center is a listed UNESCO world heritage site.
Bamberg is a good example of a central European town with a basically early medieval plan and many surviving ecclesiastical and secular buildings of the medieval period. When Henry II, Duke of Bavaria, became King of Germany in 1007 he made Bamberg the seat of a bishopric, intended to become a 'second Rome'. Of particular interest is the way in which the present town illustrates the link between agriculture (market gardens and vineyards) and the urban distribution centre.
From the 10th century onwards, Bamberg became an important link with the Slav peoples, especially those of Poland and Pomerania. During its period of greatest prosperity, from the 12th century onwards, the architecture of this town strongly influenced northern Germany and Hungary. In the late 18th century Bamberg was the centre of the Enlightenment in southern Germany, with eminent philosophers and writers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and E.T.A. Hoffmann living there.
Bamberg extends over seven hills, each crowned by a beautiful church. This has led to Bamberg being called the 'Franconian Rome'.