The ruins of this 12th century castle in the small Limburg town of Valkenburg are the highest anywhere in the Netherlands.
Considering the typically flat Dutch landscape this is hardly surprising given that the only hills to be found here are deep in the south of Limburg.
You can't miss this ancient edifice because it can easily be seen from the town down below. It's a gentle walk up the hill and well worth it for the view from the top.
The castle was destroyed in 1672 and now only the ruins remain.
There are many cafes to refresh yourself with a beer or coffee when you return from rummaging around the ruins.
Valkenburg Castle is the only hilltop castle in the Netherlands, situated on a little hill in the town. The first castle was build there in the 12th century and like most castles it was destroyed and reconstructed several times. Today it's ruined, but there's enough left so that it's interesting to visit! I found interesting that there once was a hexadecagonal tower, which was later replaced by a decagonal tower, rather unusual constructions. You'll only see a few remainders of them. There are several plates with explanations in Dutch and English, really well done. We also did get a piece of paper with explanations in German.
The entrance is in a restaurant where you'll also get the tickets. In front of it on the terrace you’ll find some models about the different phases of the castle, which is interesting, too.
Adults 3,25 €, children 2,60 €, seniors 2,95 €.
There are combined tickets for castle & cave for 6,50 € (adults). It was 10 cent less in 2007.
For opening times please check their webpage.
"Mergel" or chalk rock is very common in this region and used for centuries by the people of valkenburg and wide surroundings. Though the rock is quite easily to use, the strength is not that perfect. After the centuries past away, the roch often erodes quickly and whole buildings are becoming dangerous to live in. Still, Valkenburg holds many examples of historic "Mergel"-architecture, such as the gates, parts of the citywall and of course the castle.
The history of this building is a bit unclear. When parts of Limburg were divided between Spain and the Republic of the United Netherlands in 1661 much of Valkenburg remained Spanish. This is supposed to be the Spanish governmental building, but there are reasons to doubt this. Especially because it stands very close to the border between the two territories, this being the Geul river.
Anyway, this is now the VVV, the tourist information office. It's the oldest VVV in the country, as a matter of fact.
(Need I say that it was built of marl?)
If you're coming by train, don't rush to the centre immediately. And if you're coming by another way, do pay a short visit to the railway station. This is the oldest station in The Netherlands and a decisive factor in Valkenburg's touristic development. It dates from 1853 and was built in some romantic sort of neo-Gothic style, with lots of turrets that make it a small castle. All executed in marl; a lovely sight. And thankfully a protected monument; the Dutch railways have made the destruction of old stations a policy in the last decade.
On the top of a hill are the ruins of a castle. The only castle in The Netherlands that stands on top of a "mountain". This castle was built in ca. 1040 and destroyed in 1672. Its remains are still very impressive though. In the mountain under the castle is a labyrinth of caves that can be visited, the Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave).
In the centre of town you can find this building. It is an old school. But it was built as a part of a farmhouse in 1686. Used as a house by several families untill it became a school after some rbuilding in 1826.
Since 1928 it is no longer in use as a school.
This church was first mentioned in 1226. Since then fires and wars destroyed the church several times. The present building dates from the 15th century.
Latest restoration was in 1983.
The church is also beautifull inside. It is not always open, but you can have a peek inside during sunday mass.
The Berkelpoort is a citygate dating from the early 14th century. This gate is also called the Oud-Valkenburgse Poort , as it is the gate toward Oud Valkenburg, a nearby village. The name Berkelpoort is derived from on of its keepers: de Birckelaer.
The gate had a drawbridge over the citycanal.
When the castle was destroyed in 1672 the gate survived. And since it was restored and now is a monument.
Just a small part of the citywalls are remaining. Once, when the castle was still standing the entire village was surrounded by walls. The Grendelpoort and the Berkelpoort are two remaining citygates and at the other end this part of citywall is all that is left. This old walls are situated next to Kasteel Halder. To walk from here to both gates will take no longer than 10 minutes and shows how small the village was in the 14th century.
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