North Brabant is a region of contrasts. Trendy, modern areas are located right next to historic, cultural districts. Anyone interested in history and historic monuments will never be bored in North Brabant. We have drawn up a list of the most extraordinary cathedrals, photogenic castles and impressive Van Gogh monuments.
Imposing on the outside, but just as impressive inside. The St. John's Cathedral in ’s-Hertogenbosch is one of the top monuments in North Brabant and with good reason. Enjoy impressive architecture, rich history and the most beautiful details.
If you want to make your day in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (or Den Bosch, as the locals call the capital city of North Brabant) complete, combine your visit to the St. John Cathedral with a cruise on the medieval Binnendieze underground river. You navigate literally under the old city centre of ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
The Noordbrabants Museum is also recommended. In addition to the original works by Vincent van Gogh, as you can admire the international masterpieces by the Brueghel family. This exhibition – with eighty paintings and prints by five generations of Brueghel – can be visited from 30 September 2023 up to and including 7 January 2024.
Would you dare to climb a church tower that is 97 metres high? It is possible in Breda, a city with a rich history that goes back to the period of William of Orange-Nassau, still visible today because of the many monuments in the city. The Grote Kerk – or the Church of Our Lady – is one of those monuments.
Your visit to Breda must include the Breda Castle. The best view of the castle is from Valkenberg Park, the castle’s former garden, near the castle moat. A visit to the Begijnhof is also a must. It takes you centuries back in time.
Museum tip: if you want to learn even more about the Nassau family, the Stedelijk Museum Breda has a permanent exhibition about this intriguing family history.
The most beautiful monumental castles are hidden in the Brabant countryside. While taking a look inside is the most fun, of course, admiring them from the outside while hiking or cycling is also highly recommended.
Heeswijk Castle is also very interesting. It can be the starting point for amazing walks and bicycle rides through the woods, the lanes and fields of the estate, crisscrossed by the meandering river Aa. Or visit Helmond Castle, which houses the Helmond Museum, and wander right into the centre of Helmond. Maurick Castle in Vught can be combined with an amazing, varying walking tour through the adjoining woods.
If you would like to explore more fairy tale castles, consult our list with the most beautiful Brabant castles.
Oudenbosch is one of the most beautiful villages in North Brabant and is famous for the Oudenbosch Basilica, a downsized replica of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. The size of this impressive monument will surprise you when you see the stately basilica located in the middle of the residences. It can be seen from afar in the Brabant region. A bit of Rome in North Brabant!
The basilica can be viewed on your own, or you can book a guided tour. While you are in Oudenbosch, do not forget to visit the Arboretum, a beautiful botanical garden.
If you want to go for a lovely walk that combines the countryside with historic locations, you may enjoy the monastery tours.
Monastic life has contributed a great deal to North Brabant. Of the more than 660 buildings that served as a monastery, 450 still exist. Many have been repurposed, now serving as hotels or residences, but a number of them are still being used as monasteries. Sint Agatha is home to the oldest inhabited monastery in the Netherlands.
The monastery tours allow you to explore monastic life and (obviously) you pass by the most magnificent Brabant monasteries and abbeys.
Van Gogh heritage locations can be found throughout the entire region of North Brabant, a good many of which are in Van Gogh Village Nuenen. This is also where you will find the extraordinary Van Gogh Village Museum with the unique Lightlab.
But Van Gogh left traces behind in Etten-Leur as well. Etten-Leur was home for the Van Gogh family for seven years, and it was here that Vincent began his artistic career in 1881. This story is told in the Van Gogh Church in Etten-Leur.
The Van Gogh locations are at their best when explored using the Van Gogh bicycle and walking tours. Cycle or walk through the landscapes that were such an inspiration for Van Gogh and explore the Van Gogh National Park.
The Markiezenhof Palace in Bergen op Zoom is the oldest city palace in the Netherlands! The palace was constructed in the 15th century, intended as a residential palace for the gentlemen and marquis of Bergen op Zoom. For anyone interested in heritage and history, visiting this palace is a must.
Bergen op Zoom is an ancient treasure with more than 800 monuments in one city! You can also visit the Gevangenpoort, the gate prison, which has an escape room. The Grote Markt is home to the remarkable Gertrudiskerk with its striking towers, the Peperbus or the pepper plant towers.