The Grote Kerk (Church of Our Lady) is the most important monument and a landmark of Breda. The first notice of a stone church in Breda is from 1269. In 1410, the construction of the church started with the choir. In 1468, the church was ready but in 1457 the old tower collapsed and between 1468 and 1509 the current tower was built. They continued building until 1547 when the church was finished in its current shape.
In 1566, the Reformation took place and the church was no longer Catholic. In 1637, the church became Protestant. The tower spire burned in 1694 and the current spire was built in 1702. From 1843 onwards many restorations took place, the last big restoration took place from 1993 until 1998.
The organ in the Grote Kerk of Breda is one of the largest organs in the Netherlands and its history goes back to the 16th century. At that time, the organ only possessed 16 stops. After being displaced several times, the organ arrived at its present location in the church in 1712. After restoration of the church between 1904 and 1956, a new organ was ordered from D.A. Flentrop in Zaandam.
The Prinsenkapel (Prince chapel) north of the choir is the old mausoleum of the House of Orange-Nassau, ancestors of the Dutch Royal Family. The chapel was built from 1520 until 1525 on orders of the Lord of Breda, Henry III of Nassau-Breda. Seventeen family members are buried in the chapel.
When William of Orange died the plan was to bury him also in the chapel, but Breda was at that time occupied by the Spanish. William of Orange and most of his descendants were buried in the mausoleum in the New Church in Delft.
A special part of the chapel are the vault paintings from 1533. The frescos are made by the Italian painter Tommaso di Andrea Vincidor (a student of Raphael).References:
The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.
The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.
The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.
During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.