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Hoensbroek Castle: an ancient building that has been standing for 8 centuries




About a thousand years ago, the rich and powerful rulers of the Netherlands started to fortify their homes to protect themselves from the enemy. So the first castles were built here, and almost all of them in those days were wooden. This material was not very durable, so towards the middle of the 13th century, more and more castles were built of stone. One of these structures, on the territory of which you can see the foundations of five clearly distinguishable buildings and periods of construction, is Hoensbroek Castle (Gebrook Castle), which is located in the province of Limburg.

South-western aspect of the Hoensbroek Castle
South-western aspect of the castle. Photo: © Sir Gawain / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The first fortification on this place appeared around 1250. Nothing has remained of this rectangular building, but the walls of the courtyard were built on its foundation.

Hoensbroek Castle
Hoensbroek Castle. Photo: Hein56didden, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The second fortification was built around 1360 by the powerful Hoen family. The castle, of which only a large round fortress remained, was located not far from an important trade route between Cologne and the cities of Flanders. Inside the fortress there are stairs, and the thickness of the walls in some places reaches 3 meters. In the Middle Ages, the fortress had battlements, but in the 17th century they were replaced with a spiral roof. On the lower level, a prison cell has been preserved.

Hoensbroek Castle
Hoensbroek Castle. Photo: Kasteelbeer, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 NL)
Interior of the Hoensbroek Castle
Interior of the castle. Photo: Ruurd Zeinstra / flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Over the centuries, Hoensbroek Castle has been rebuilt and expanded three times. Architectural styles of different eras (14th, 17th and 18th centuries) are easily distinguishable from each other.

Interior of the Hoensbroek Castle
Interior of the castle. Photo: bertknot / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Interior of the Hoensbroek Castle
Interior of the castle. Photo: bertknot / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The castle complex is surrounded by a moat. A bridge leads to the main building and on both sides of the entrance, the latter is fortified with square towers topped with onion dome. Such an impressive facade, three sides of which are immersed in water, gives the castle a unique charm.

Moat around the Hoensbroek Castle
Moat around the castle. Photo: bertknot / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Moat and Hoensbroek Castle courtyard
Moat and castle courtyard. Photo: bertknot / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

For almost six centuries, the castle was the ancestral residence of the knights of Hoen van den Broek. The noble family left their home at the end of the 18th century, as a result of which the ancient building fell into disrepair. Count Frans Lothar sold it in 1927 to the current owner, the Ave Rex Christe foundation. Between 1930 and 1940, Hoensbroek Castle was completely restored. From 1951 to 1973, a Dutch poet Bertus Aafjes lived in a part of the castle building. Further restoration took place between 1986 and 1989. Today the castle houses a museum.

Hoensbroek Castle seen from the Droomvijver pond
Castle seen from the Droomvijver pond. Photo: Flamenc, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Hoensbroek Castle courtyard
Castle courtyard. Photo: bertknot / flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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