The "Kasteelsche Hof van Ooij" (castle court of Ooij) dates back to 1184, though the lords of Ooij themselves already were mentioned in literature from 1088. With this the property belongs to one of the oldest in it's kind within the Netherlands. Out of the fundaments one discovered that the building was created by ruine stones of Roman fortifications that were - obviously - along the Via Romana leading from Nijmegen to Xanten. As the expanding of the castle was not so proper structured, the complex became somewhat chaotic. this could be the reason why the castle was easily overrun in the 80 years of independance war of the Netherlands by Spanish forces. In 1633 the castle changed owner and belonged to the noble family Van Bylandt. The castle was fortified and improved and became known as strongest and most graceful within the province of Gelderland. Sadly enough it was completely destroyed by the French troops of Napoleon and beyond reconstruction. In 1798 the castle was broken down, leaving only parts of the gatehouse and doves tower. When looking at this last graceful little tower, one can fantasies about how beautiful the whole castle must have been ... long times ago.
Opposit to where the castle used to be and just passed the Bed & Breakfast "Ruimzicht", a very pictoresque little old church is standing on top of a small hill besides a little "kolk" (little lake that appeared after a dike-breache). The church is older then the large "brother" that is now in the centre of Ooij, as the castle and this church actually used to be the centre of attention in this region. the church dates back to the 15th century and the midship of the church was transformed in 1856-1858 to the pastor's house. Only the churchtower is remaining from medieval times. When parts of the church were torn down, some fresco's of Saint Joris (George) and Saint Christoffel were found and preserved. Now-a-days Tittse Consultancy (grafic communications and PR) has found it's home inside the church and the connected building besides it. As well as the practice of bodyfocused psychotherapist Jose Tittse.
Churches are always a centre of society, especially in villages where the average of church going people most of the time is higher then in towns and/or cities. The Saint Hubertus church in Ooij is placed along the "Kerkdijk" (church dike) and just outside the village core. It is a significant building that is visible from a far over the wide open green fields of the polderland.
Koningin Julianalaan 32, Ooij, Netherlands, 6576 A
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
Ooij and the surrounding Ooij polder can be reached by car from Nijmegen by heading towards Kleve over the provincial road that leads along hills of Beek-Ubbergen.
Already in the early beginning of people settling throughout the Netherlands, the way of living was addapted to the natural circumstances of the land. This ment above all "keeping your feet dry". Therefore these first Dutch people (among them the Frysians and the Batavians) built there houses on top of few meter high hills, a so called "terp". Especially in Fryslan (Friesland), but also in the Ooij polder one can still find these "terps" that are significant in the surrounding flat landscape. Sometimes, few "terps" in eachothers neighborhood became connected in which eventually a whole village was situated on a little artificial hill. The "terps" provided safety in most floadings, but ... sometimes even the river (or sea) waters raise so high, that even the houses on the "terps" were caught and damaged. Dikes only appeared later (medieval times).
Ooij itself is a - especially for most foreign visitors - absolutely off the beaten path. Many Dutch obviously have never heard of it too, though the polder itself came into the news after the near-floading-disaster in 1995. Some nature friends always know the area as it holds parts of the "Gelderse Poort" natural reserve park. The polder is also very nice for biking tours and the nature in the flanking hills of Beek-Ubbergen are also a target of (natural) exploration (see my "Beek" page for more information about that).
Favorite thing: Ooij, centrally situated within the polder that bares it's name, was a small settlement already in medieval times. Surrounding the castle that lay here, appeared a village of which the inhabitants lived under protection of the castle's lords. The settlement was always small, as the growth was constantly set back by floads that regularly returned in these parts of the riverlands. Dikes were built in later medieval times, but dike breaches almost every century kept away new inhabitants. The present plans of "overflowing area" in the surroundings of the Ooij-polder, again take care of dispopularity to built a new home in this "dangerous" environment.