The history of Ruurlo Castle is inextricable from the history of the noble Van Heeckeren family, who managed the castle and the estate from the beginning of the 15th century through to 1977. Since 2012, and thanks to the dedication of local patronHans Melchers, this impressive castle has been given a new lease of life as a museum.
Ruurlo Castle is of a venerable age, appearing in archives from as early as the 14th century when it was a fief of Count Reinoud I of Guelders. In the 15th century, it passed into the hands of Jacob van Heeckeren, the founder of the noble and distinguished knightly family of Van Heeckeren. One of them, William van Heeckeren van Kell (1814-1914), was director of the King’s Cabinet and Minister of Foreign Affairs. The castle stayed in the family for more than five centuries.
During the Second World War, the Germans requisitioned the castle for use as the headquarters of the German General Staff. After the liberation, it was occupied for another few months by Canadian military personnel. In 1977, the castle passed into the hands of the municipality of Ruurlo, which used it as itstown hall. When the local authorities merged in 2005, the municipality moved out of the building. In 2012, the castle was sold to Hans Melchers for €1 million and found a new useas a museum for paintings by Carel Willink, a master of magical realism. The paintings are from the art collection of the bankrupt owner of DSB Bank, Dirk Scheringa.
A large part of the present castle dates from the 16th and 17th centuries. It is surrounded by a magnificent estate with a number of exceptional features. The Orangery from 1879 was badly damaged during the war and subsequently demolished, but it was rebuilt in 2002 and is now a popular wedding location. The estate is also home to a famous maze, which was declared the world’s largest by the Guinness Book of Records in 1996. The maze was created by Lady Sophie van Heeckeren in 1890.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.