A few weeks ago, I was again spending some time in The Netherlands. My husband was working, and I was traveling around and meeting my friends. One of them told me about the castle Hoensbroek in the province of Limburg which was just about 20 minutes drive from the hotel where we were staying. Of course, I had to go there next day!
It was a typical Dutch weather that day. It was raining and so windy that it didn't matter if you had an umbrella or not. You got wet anyway. It was difficult to take photos with my camera as I don't have any special rain cover, so I just quickly ran around the complex, took as many photos as I could and headed inside. Well, 'quickly ran around' is not that exact as the complex is quite big and it took me some time to get inside. By that time my camera was totally wet, and I hoped that all would be good with it. Lucky me, it was...
Let's start the tour!
I have learned that Hoensbroek is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved castles in Europe. Every day is a school day!
The construction of the castle Hoensbroek started in the 14th century, around 1375 by the powerful Hoen family. This family was always associated with high political functions. The first building that was built was called 'stercke huysinge'. This building was probably demolished during the enlargement of the castle later on.
The castle was built in 5 phases. In each phase a different part of the castle was built or rebuilt. Many features built in the 14th century were demolished over the centuries. The complex is surrounded by a moat and there is a bridge to get to from one side to another.
I was surprised to see so many geese around me. I didn't even capture all of them as I was trying to escape because I've heard that their bites hurt a lot. They seem to be oblivious to me, but you never know...
The castle is situated in the place of an important trading route which ran from Ghent to Frankfurt am Rhein and it was of a great importance of the dukes of Brabant. The Hoen family lived in the castle until the 18th century and the last inhabitant of the castle Lothar Frans died at the castle in 1796. The descendants of the lords van Hoensbroek still live in Schloss Haag in Germany.
When the family left the castle was left more or less uninhabited and fell in decay. In 1899 part of the tower collapsed. At the beginning of the 20th century* the castle was sold to a Roman catholic foundation Ave Rex Christi. They reconstructed the castle as it was the condition of the sale and they own it until today. At that time, they bought the castle for 65000 Dutch guilders.
At the beginning of the 15th century the castle was divided into two parts between Herman II and Johan. This is how the families lived until 1612 when Ulrich bought the other half of the house from Reinier Hoen, a descendant of Johan Hoen.
During the World War II, the castle accommodated orphans from an orphanage in Velsen.
Even today, the castle is being reconstructed and improved. The entrance fee is EUR 11.75 and the parking is for free!
I think that now it's the right time to enter the complex...
The castle looks preserved and clean. It also looks kind of new, like it wouldn't be standing there for centuries...
There is a large stack of books in the middle of the complex. I couldn't spend more time there as it was raining heavily but I guess that it's some attraction for kids.
This is the main building which serves as a museum now. We can get there by crossing the bridge on the left.
And now we are on the bridge. I wasn't surprised that there was no one else because it was not only raining but it was also early in the morning.
On the right side of the bridge is the ticket office. You can get some souvenirs there as well.
When you cross the bridge turn right and walk down the stairs to the restaurant. This is the entrance to the castle. It is a clever solution if you ask me as you can stop by before the tour and have a cup of coffee or even some good food.
The tour starts with the medieval tower, but it was dark when I enter it. I turned the light on my phone and walked around but the light in the tower just wouldn't turn on. I even enter the 60 cm wide spiral staircase in complete dark but when I understood that there was probably something wrong with the light I turned around and left the tower as I was becoming panicky. Dark and narrow spaces are not my favorite, so my tour started at the grand staircase.
From here we enter the 17th century part of the castle...
We continue to the gallery with the servants' room for the lower domestic staff, workmen and maids.
There were 7 bedrooms for staff and during the reconstruction some items were found in these rooms. I found interesting that the sheets that were found were black. It is said that it could be connected with poor hygiene in the medieval times. It was even considered unhealthy to wash often and people washed themselves 3 or 4 times a year.
This room is called above the hall. Not a very poetic name if you ask me.
Each castle had the inventory count done on a sporadic basis. The inventory list was created when someone died, when the castle was robbed, or when it was deemed appropriate. This list doesn't mention any furniture in this room, so it is not known how it looked like before.
This is the in the small tower room. The black marble mantelpiece on the wall has the Latin motto: Bene vivere et laetare which means to live good and rejoice. It is even included by the coat of arms of the van Hoensbroek family.
This is the model of the Hoensbroek castle.
Now we can walk up to the attic. This roof construction was built without any nails. It was built using wood and the iron additions to the construction were added during the renovation.
There was a man when I entered this place. He looked a bit upset. I didn't want to bother him, so I just walked around and wanted to leave when he approached me. He told me that he was waiting for the clock for almost 15 minutes and when he left the room just for a few seconds he heard that knock. He hurried back but was too late. And now he had to wait for another 15 minutes. Those first world problems.. 😊
The great hall is one of the largest rooms in the castle. It used to be a dining hall which is still obvious. One interesting but disgusting feature of this room is the vomiting hole. It was normal to eat until you couldn't anymore and then you would use this vomiting hole.
On the other side of the room was the bottle room. Now it serves as a lift but in the past it was used as a storage of wine and household goods.
The great hall was connected to the kitchen with a fireplace from the 17th century.
Now, we can move to another construction from the 18th century. It is not known when it was built but it is likely that its construction started after the medieval building collapsed in 1717.
The hall is decorated with a beautiful fireplace, many paintings, pompous chandelier and a piano. This is however not like this room was furnished in the past as its look is not known.
From this room we can enjoy nice views of the castle complex.
This dining room used to be the count's family dining room in the 18th century.
And the last room that we will visit today is the study. This room was not furnished in the 18th century. It is only known that it was used as a study room.
This is the heraldic coat of arms of the Hoensbroek family from the 17th century.
And now is time to leave the castle and walk back to the castle.
I hope that you enjoyed our tour today!
Thank you for reading!