Ruïne van Brederode is a castle in the town of Santpoort Zuid, about 25 minutes away by train from Centraal Station. From the Santpoort Zuid station, signs lead through quiet, tree-lined streets to the castle. The fifteen-minute walk is relaxing after the craziness of the big city.
Soon the castle comes into view. Ruïne van Brederode has a long history and has been through a lot over the years. The earliest known castle on this spot was built by William I, Lord of Brederode, starting around 1282. It guarded a narrow strip of land that connected the Dutch mainland to West Friesland. A map in the gallery to this post shows the site’s strategic importance.
The castle was besieged, taken, and destroyed in 1351 but was soon rebuilt, only to be set on fire by Spanish troops in 1573. By then the age of artillery was well underway and this type of castle was no longer militarily useful. The ruins were allowed to slowly crumble until they were restored in the nineteenth century.
%Gallery-140254%I was shown around by the caretaker, who lives in a small cottage next door. The castle grounds were quiet and we had the place almost to ourselves. There’s much to explore, including a large central tower that provides a splendid view of the rest of the castle and some of the countryside beyond. A small museum shows some of the artifacts dug up on the site, including some early stone cannonballs, perhaps from the siege of 1351, and a bit of stained glass with the boar’s-head crest of the Brederode family. You can even see wax figures of the former lord and lady of the castle, their faces reconstructed from their actual skulls.
The castle was quite modern for its time, with bathrooms in every room and an innovate square design for the main tower. It’s a shame it got so banged up by various armies. Parts of it are only foundations and the caretaker was quick to point out some errors in the nineteenth century reconstruction. Still, it makes for a relaxing and enjoyable day trip from Amsterdam and gets you out a countryside that most visitors miss.
If van Brederode whets your appetite for Dutch castles, also check out Muiderslot.
As I left, the caretaker presented me with bottles of Brederode Blond and Brederode Bruin, a traditional Dutch made in honor of the castle and bearing the boar’s head symbol of the Brederode family. The beer was as enjoyable as the castle and I heartily recommend both!
Don’t miss the rest of my series: Lowdown on the Low Countries.
Coming up next: One luxury and two budget hotels in Amsterdam!