Back to the Middle Ages, the time of kings and noblewomen. They lived in fairy-tales castles with thick walls, towers, an inner courtyard, beautifully laid-out gardens, a moat and drawbridge. These were built as defence fortifications and as residences or country seats. Many castles in North Brabant have not withstood the test of time. Luckily, there are still a large number of these historic buildings standing. Who will you take with you on an adventure? Plan a day out or enjoy this perfect stopover during your bicycle ride through the beautiful Brabant landscape.
Heeswijk Castle is a quarter of an hour away from the historic city ‘s-Hertogenbosch. It has an amazing drawbridge, a moat, castle towers, a neatly landscaped garden and a fantastic interior to boot. The castle is open for visitors and children can discover the treasures of the castle while on a scavenger hunt. The estate itself is also a wonderful location for hiking and cycling. Heeswijk Castle is an official Nature Gateway and is close to the Heeswijk-Dinther monastery route. The Barones in the Coach House is the place to enjoy a cup of coffee, lunch or a drink. Cyclists will feel especially welcome here: it’s an official Brabant Bicycle Café.
Less than 10 minutes away from ‘s-Hertogenbosch is another gem. Maurick Castle is located in Vught, hidden in the countryside and located on an island in the Dommel river. Cross the castle moat over the drawbridge, and you will enter the castle’s inner courtyard. To see the castle from the inside, reserve a table at the à la carte restaurant Hendrik van Maurick or the Catharina brasserie. Complete your visit with an overnight stay in one of the three suites available. Or go for a walk through the wooded area around the castle, ending with a luxurious picnic in the garden.
Helmond Castle lies in the centre of Helmond. It has sturdy towers, thick walls, a moat and, yes, a real castle garden. It is the largest moated castle in the Netherlands, which is where Helmond Museum is housed. Here you will meet castle inhabitants from previous centuries and experience the castle story. How was the castle built? What was its function during the war? How did inhabitants live? Before going off to explore the castle, children can dress up as a princess or a knight. During the attic tour – ‘Castle on fire!’ – you wander through the castle’s centuries-old attic. Shadows and voices accompany you along authentic elements of the castle and tell you about the great fire in 1549.
Castle Heeze is a 20-minute drive from Eindhoven. This National Monument consists of two parts: the medieval castle Eymerick and the newer 17th-cenury coast, both with their own inner courtyard. The interior contains almost entirely authentic furniture, tapestries, soft furnishings and a collection of paintings. The castle is not open to visitors, but on Wednesdays and Sundays a guide will take you on a tour. A visit to the castle can easily be combined with a hike or bicycle ride through the beautiful surroundings. The TOP Scenic Cycle Route Strabrechtse Heide will take you past the castle as well as through the Hubertusbossen and over the Strabrechtse Heide.
The Loon op Zand Castle, also called the White Castle, is a few minutes’ drive from the Loon and Drunen Dunes National Park. It is an estate, surrounded by a moat, where exhibitions and concerts are held and where you can also go for a guided tour. The old defensive works, the herbal garden, the vegetable garden, the flower garden and orchard with high-crested fruit trees of ancient varieties all make it well worth a visit. The White Castle also plays a major role in the exciting local tale “The White Feather Gang” (Bende van de Witte Veer). Discover the story and enjoy the beauty of the countryside on the bicycle route of the same name, which is all about this legend.
The history of Dussen Castle, close to the Biesbosch National Park, goes back to the 14th century. The castle is not a large one, but it is certainly very charming. For example, the inner courtyard is enclosed by an unusual colonnade gallery. The castle is not open to visitors, but it is possible to book a tour. There are also activities held here, such as concerts and theatrical performances. A visit to the castle can easily be combined with a day out in Biesbosch. Visit the Biesbosch Museum Island, go on a boat trip or cycle along the TOP Scenic Cycle Route Biesbosch.
In the centre of Breda, on the Kasteelplein, lies the Castle of Breda. In times past, the Lords of Breda, descendants of the House of Orange-Nassau, lived here, which is why Breda is called Nassau City. It now houses the Royal Military Academy (Koninklijke Militaire Academie), which is why the Castle is only accessible during tours organised by the Breda Tourist Information Office. You have an amazing view of the main building from Valkenberg Park. The castle is on the route of the Zuiderwaterlinie hiking trail, a unique chain of 11 Brabant fortified cities and their outskirts, all linked due to the typical Dutch use of water as a defence. On your bicycle, you could explore the city by, for example, following the Van Gogh bicycle route Breda.
Tongelaar Castle and Benedenhof Farm (Boerderij de Benedenhof) in Mill are located on the beautiful Tongelaar estate of the Brabant landscape, in the Land of Cuijk, close to Gelderland. It is untypically Dutch here, in that it is so quiet you would almost believe yourself to be in the French countryside. The castle is open to the public on Wednesdays and Sundays. You can enjoy a delicious lunch here, and there is even a holiday farm on the estate. It is a unique stop-over location along the Kloosterpad or Monastery Path route, the Velp–Sint Agatha stage.
Boxmeer Castle, located along the German border and the province of Limburg, has a turbulent history. The fortress, on a former island in the Maas, was repeatedly besieged, destroyed and rebuilt for centuries. These days, the rich history of the castle, its former noble inhabitants and its current religious residents is told. The Castle Museum is open on the first Sunday of the month. It is a great stop-over location along the Kloosterpad of Monastery Path route, the Sint-Agatha–Boxmeer stage.
The province of North Brabant has many more castles. The Bouvigne Castle in Breda - along the route TOP Scenic Walk Masbos – as well as Geldrop Castle, Asten Castle and Nemerlaer Castle in Haaren can also be visited partially. Nemerlaer Castle is also a Nature Gateway and the starting point for an amazing hike or bicycle ride through Nemerlaer estate, the Kampina or the Oisterwijk's Forests and Fens (Oisterwijkse Bossen en Vennen).
Not accessible to the public but all of them gorgeous: Croy Castle in Aarle-Rixtel along the Kloosterpad or Monastery Path route, the Aarle-Rixtel–Eindhoven stage, Henkenshage Castle in Sint-Oedenrode along the Brabant Vennenpad, Haageind castle estate in Deurne and Gemert Castle.