Not far from the city centre you will find The Castle of Breda which was build in the 12th century.
Since the 19th century the castle is in use by the KMA,the Royal Dutch Military Academy.
Every year the famous Dutch Military Taptoe is held on the premises where you can see and listen to the army's music corps.
When the first settlement was established in the nowdays' city of Breda, in the 12th century, farmers and traders who lived there built a fortress. This fortress later became a castle after it was sold to the Dutch noble man Jan van Polanen.
3 centuries later this castle became the property of Hendrik III van Nassau. Hendrik was married 3 times to a very wealthy heiresses, the first two, who died, left him a lot of money. So he could add a lot to the already existing castle. He was inspired by the renaissance and often invited artists and scholars to the city. The two fortified towers known today as a "Spaniards' Hole" were the outcome of Hendrik's inspiration. But the person who had the real influence on him was his third wife Mencia de Mendoza. She made a lot of changes in the castle as well as inside of it.
After the son of Hendrik the III died the castle of Breda passed to the German William of Orange later known as William the Silent - father founder of the Netherlands.
Since the year 1826 the castle became the property of the Dutch Royal Academy (KMA) and the entrance to the casle became impossible for the civilians. Sometimes it is possible to schedule a guided tour around the KMA but only outside the castle itself. If you're interested you will have to contact the local tourist info center (VVV)
Usually, once a year during the "Noord Brabant open castle day" people are given the opportunity to go inside the castle itself, but it looks like the year 2006 will be the last chance to do this. The KMA made the decision to turn the castle into the dorms for its cadets, once it happens the castle will be closed for the general public FOREVER
Through the centuries, the castle has had a lot of functions: from castle to barracks, to military hospital and finally to Royal Military Academy.
The origin of the castle of Breda goes back to the 12th century. The most famous occupant of the castle was Willem of Oranje, the leader of the Dutch insurrection against the Spanish authority.
It's quite a big place with not only the castle but a lot of other buildings all in use of the academy. Make inquiries at the local tourist office if you are interested to visit the place.
One of Breda's major sight is the castle. Or better, it should be, because its use as a military academy limits its accessibility. Tours are organized by the local VVV (the tourist office), but for groups only.
The castle in its earliest form was built in the 14th century, but from that period little remains. A rebuilding by Italian architect Thomas Vincidor de Bologna resulted in an almost entirely new complex and later new masters brought new ideas too. Behind this gate is the actual castle, a true Renaissance palace, at least the ground floor of the building. Unfortunately, the castle has not been completely spared from demolitions, and the military also had some truly horrible modern buildings constructed on the castle grounds.
In a central part of Breda, behind the "Spanjaardsgat" (actually a part of the complex) is the castle of Breda. This group of buildings is quite large and a walk around it will take half hour (slowly enough to enjoy the highlights). The castle has fundaments going back to the 12th century, but the buildings and walls one sees now are of later periods (roughly between 1750 and 1900). Sadly it is not open to visitors. Reason you will find in the next tip.
In Breda the castle still has a military function. It shelters the highest military academy within the Netherlands. Only under guidance of an officer that studies here or is placed under the KMA (Royal Military Academy) is allowed inside. A pitty that we don;t know anyone and have to deal with the outside of the castle only.
Breda has had a castle since about 1200 which has been variously: a purely defensive structure, a royal palace, a military barracks and the present building has been used, and modified for, as the Dutch Royal Military Academy since it was handed over to the army in 1826.
As a working military installation there is no access to the general public except as part of a pre-arranged group organised by the local VVV tourist office. I don't think these are conducted to a set timetable but I think that interested individuals can join a pre-organised group, if one has been arranged, by enquiring at the tourist offices.
Good looking building though.
From the previous tip you already know that Breda had its Trojan Horse story. However, the legend that this strategic plan freed Breda from the Spaniards' occupation is a myth. It only helped to get the castle back.
At the times of the occupation the son of William the Silent, Maurits came with the idea of the Torjan Horse using the peat ship that delevred peat into the casle evey week via one of the canals. He shared his idea with Adriaan van Bergen who hid 70 soldiers in the ship and brought it into the castle. It is believed that the ship entered the castle through the canal which, today, runs along the Academiesingel. Which means the exact opposite side of the Spaniards hole location.
According to the great guide we had on our tour of the castle, who is also a historian, not only Spaniards were in the castle. Most of the people were actually Italians.
It was a lazy night for the Italian soldiers who were dead drunk. When the soldiers of Adriaan van Bergen jumped out of the peat ship the drunk occupants believd they saw ghosts and simply ran away.
The castle was free, but it still took another few years to free Breda completely.
Today, Breda's castle is surrounded by only one canals. Back in 14-15 centuries there were three of them. On the left side of the castle there's a monument that symbolizes the Trojan Horse event. The fox as a part of the sculpture symbolizes the "sneakiness" of the soldiers led by Adriann van Bergen to free the castle. The momument stands at the exact place where one of the canals, through which the ship arrived to the castle, used to be
The wife of the count Hendrik the III, Mencia de Mendoza was origially from Spain. When she arrived to Breda she wasn't aware of the Dutch weather. Living in the castle she liked to have the open balcony but realized very fast that the strong winds and low temperatures are not such a pleasant experience. If you look at the picture you'll see, on the 2nd floor, that the pillars are actually half way inside the walls. Those walls were added after Mencia realized that the Dutch weather is far from what she got used to in Spain.
The third floor of the castle is another story. It was added after the castle became the Royal Military Academy. If you carefully look at the building (see the picture) you may notice that the bricks of the top floor are darker color than the rest of the building. The color diference of the bricks is very noticable, but doesn't really spoil the beauty of the building
What the English call the Dutch war, Dutch call the English war. Due to the disagreements over the colonies in North America and West Africa the war between the Lowlands and England started in March 1664. Despite the fact that Dutch won the war, being well prepared after having the experience of the first war, there was an historical agreement signed in the castle of Breda to confirm the peace.
The room that you see on the picture - Knights Hall - nowadays is used as a living room by the cadets of the Military Academy, but in 1667 in this very room Dutch traded the New Amsterdam for Suriname. Later the New Amsterdam was renamed New York, after the Duke of York.
This room was renovated a few years ago, and until today it keeps receiving many official deligations. Unfortunately, entrance to this room, as well as the castle itself, is impossible.
Although Prince Maurits did free the castle from the Italian invadors, the Spaniards didn't give up easily. In fact it took another 12 years to get the city back.
In the years 1624-1625 the Spanish general Spinola starved the people of the city by putting Breda is seige. Prince Maurits had no other choice, Breda has surrendered. The famous painting by Diego Velazquez captured the moment where Mauruts gives the keys of Breda to General Spinola. The original painting can be found in Madrid, in the famous Prado Museum. There are two reproductions in Breda one is in one of the many rooms of the castle, another is inside the old City Hall. Ironically, none of these places is open for public.
If you look at the picture you can notice one interesting thing. The paiting confirms that Velazquez had never been to Breda. In the very back of the picture you can spot hills or even mountains. Needless to remind you that Breda is actually FLAT!
HET KASTEEL, from another angle but....the best place to see it in its glory!
From The Valkenberg park, over the water....and there it is!
This Castle is THE ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY since 1828.
That is why it isn't open to the public, which of course is a pity, but a fact!
BREDA is also called ORANJESTAD......and rightly so because the members of the ORANJE family, our ROYAL FAMILY, reigned here, lived here, had their banquets here in this CASTLE!
In 1198 there was already a BURCHT at the same place......and HET HOF / HERBERGHE VAN BREDA, a place were prominent guests could stay!
Time and again things have been added and removed, changed and rebuilt .....little remains of what was there so long, long ago.... but it still is THE CASTLE......only now it houses THE ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY!
After Hendrik III of Nassau had a ten meters thick wall built in 1510 for the protection of the castle area, this gate became the entrance of the castle.
Breda has a beautiful renaissance castle. It was the first residence of the Orange family in the Netherlands. Normally not open to the public.