This place along one of the canals is one of the must-see spots of Breda. It is part of the Castle of Breda and has its own story.
The Spanjaardsgat (hole of the Spaniards) got its name from the hole in the castle wall (not visible on this pic). Spaniard soldiers of Philip I tried to enter through the hole but were defeated.
The tower left and right of the Spanjaardsgat are called Grenade and Pigeons tower.
The towers used to be a munition and post chamber tower to the castle. Now, the grenade tower houses the catholic chapel and the pigeons tower the protestant chapel of the Military academy.
The "Spanjaardsgat" is a name that origines from the word "Gate of the Spaniards". The "Spanjaardgat" is a watergate, but is not as old as the story goes. The buildings behind it (the castle) now are the highest military academy in The Netherlands (KMA). A watergate used to be the entrance for water-traffic into town and was a part of most Dutch medieval cities. The place is falsly connected to a famous story that I will tell in another "must see activity".
The "Spaniards' hole," is what it translates into. Breda is a town where two rivers - the Aa and the Mark meet and the thus the river widens. Imagine me trying to look at a topographic map of the Breda area trying to figure out "What the F@#*?!"
Someone just thought I was deeply interested in maps but really I was trying to figure out how things work in a depressed area.
The Spanjaardsgat was built in the 17th century as a gate in the fortress known as Breda for the occuppying Spanish forces to bring supplies into the city via a canal into Breda for the Spanish troops.
I have run into some debate. Did the Maurits of Nassau's troops really infilitrate Breda using a "Trojan Horse," tactic? A few historians question if this really happened.
Something important happened here.
Spanjaardsgat is the name of this water-gate, which leads to the castle. A legend says that this is where troops from Holland were smuggled into the city to liberate Breda from the Spanish occupation. Not true! First, the gate didn't exist at the time, the event didn't even take place at this location and those troops were in fact protestant rebels who didn't come to liberate the catholic city but rather to conquer it and rob its inhabitants of their possessions and their religion. Holland was Breda's enemy, not its liberator! Nothing heroic really, just the start of over 150 years of protestant minority rule and decay of the city. Unfortunately for a long time the truth wasn't thought to be appropriate for our Holland-centered history books so the more glamorous version was invented, which many people still believe is actually true. Shame.
This is the Spanish Gate (so I was told) it is rather old, before my time, some says from the time the Spanish were here, why did they left? I have no idea, maybe they do not like the Dutch football that much, or maybe the Dutch girls as I do ;-)
This is situated in the former harbour area of BREDA.
Part of the Harbour has been filled in which is such a pity!
But sometimes things done can be undone and they probably will dig the harbour again.....to restore it to its former glory!
Standing here we can see 2 sturdy TOWERS, built by Count Hendrik III in 1509. This he had done to fortify the CASTLE.
The left tower is the GRANAATTOREN and the right one the DUIVENTOREN.
This name, DUIVENTOREN, MEANS TOWER OF THE PIGEONS and that is the result of the fact that HOMING PIGEONS were held here for WILLEM VAN ORANJE, WILLIAM OF ORANGE!
No emails at that time: the quickest way to send a message was by HOMING PIGEONS.....
This SPANJAARDSGAT was dub in 1610 in order to get fresh water into the moats in town....
Another classical view from Breda are these two pentagonal towers built in 1509 to defend the harbour.
They played an important part as the town developed into a strategic fortress location.
Their name comes from the fact that during the Spanish occupation, the supplies were delivered to the Spanish troops through this gate.
The "Spanjaardgat" is surrounded by halftrue stories of the Dutch variant of the Trojan Horse technique. In the 80 years lasting independance war between the Lowlands and Spain (then centre of the Habsburgian empire of which The Netherlands (incl. belgium) then were a part of). Story goes that after a long siege, the Dutch pretended to leave the area. They left a ship full of peat in the harbour as a tooken of loosing the battle ... that is ... the deep hidden decks were filled with 72 soldiers. The ship was taken into the town and at night the troops came out - opened the gates and so letting in the main force. Thus Breda was "liberated" on the 4th of March 1590 (as well plundered for it's catholic past). In a hidden square in town the "captain" of this peatship is commemorated in a small statue.
In the battle between the Netherlands and Spain Breda has changed hands 6 times! Once there was a clever peat skipper who smuggled the besiegers behind the enemy lines underneath his peat cargo. This is supposed to have happened at the 'Spanjaardsgat'.
Spanjaardsgat (Spanish gab) build of the Spanish occupation about 400 years ago.
Around 1530, Count Hendrik the third gave orders to build the Spanjaardsgat, it had to improve the drainage of the moats of the castle. The two towers, the Granaat- (Grenade) and the Duiventoren (Pigeon tower) were built earlier to defend the port.
The story goes that Breda was liberated from Spaniards right here.
On the historic Shrove- Tuesday in 1590 when the Spaniards where celebrating the occupation, Adriaan van Bergen sail with his old peat boat through the waters of Breda.
By order of Adriaan his soldiers emerged from under their load of peat and overcame the celebrating Spaniards. Breda fell into Dutch hands.
this story strongly reminds of the Trojan Horse in which Greek soldiers hid to enter troy and succeeded in surprising the in invincible Trojans.
Breda is known as a fortified city, what you see on the picture is one of the wall's remainings (others can be seen around the city, but unfortunatelly did not survived and only mentioned by small signs).
There's a nice legend about the city of Breda and its Trojan Horse. Breda is believed to be freed from the Spaniards' occupation using the thechnique described in the Greek mythology. And the rumor says that it happened in front of this very gate (see the picture).
However this story is NOT true! For many reasons. First, it couldn't have happened because this gate was added to the castle after the occupation. Second, neither ship nor barge could have passed through this narrow gate. And although the Trojan Horse event did take place in Breda it did not free the city from the Spaniards it only freed the castle itself!
The two fortified towers, called the Spaniards Hole, are still in use. One of them (the right one on the picture) is used as a Roman-Catholic chapel. But during the times when the city had to defend itself it was used to fire the canons. Since the place was filled with smoke in no time there was a brilliant idea of ventilation. Look at the attached picture, the ceiling you see was possible to open and this is how the smoke was getting out of the tower.
The fortified towers are the part of the Breda castle complex, which is nowadays the Dutch Military Academy (KMA). Usually it is absolutely impossible to get inside the complex because it is the property of the KMA. But I was lucky to get a private guided tour and see the castle from inside, when Breda had the "Open Castle Day"
The SPANJAARDSGAT (Hole of the Spaniards) got its name from the hole in the castle wall, through which Philip II (1527 - 1598) soldiers tried to enter.
In the battle between the Spanish and the Dutch a skipper managed to smoggle a whole load of Dutch soldiers behind enemy lines and "Het Spanjaardsgat" is the place where this all happened.