castle Westhove

Zeeland, land of castles

Zeeland has castles from the Middle Ages, mainly in remains, but there’s a spanking new one too. Castles are conjurers in the minds of us all, young and old, right? If you stay very quiet, you might just hear the hooves of the horses rumbling across the drawbridge. Hark, the yells of hearty men! Knights and damsels move against the cold, spitting torches lighting the way. A castle takes you back in time, at least in your thoughts.

In the Middle Ages, there were a great many castles in Zeeland. Castle mounds too, often called ‘mottes’ from the French or ‘vliedbergen’. They were raised by the farming nobility, part defences, part status symbol. They wanted to stand tall and be counted, literally. Often a castle mound was built next to farm buildings. Today only three such castles are still standing, but of the 200-plus mounds, 38 remain. Most are on Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland

castle Westhove

Kasteel Westhove

In the Middle Ages, there were a great many castles in Zeeland. Castle mounds too, often called ‘mottes’ from the French or ‘vliedbergen’. They were raised by the farming nobility, part defences, part status symbol. They wanted to stand tall and be counted, literally. Often a castle mound was built next to farm buildings. Today only three such castles are still standing, but of the 200-plus mounds, 38 remain. Most are on Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland

Slot Haamstede

Another castle of a certain age – shall we just say around the 13th century? – is the Slot Haamstede, opposite the church in the centre of Haamstede village. The oldest part of the present remains date from then. The site, though, is older. Traces of Norman and even Roman occupants have been unearthed on the island. Since 1981, the property, and the adjoining estate of woodlands and dunes, have belonged to the Dutch society for the preservation of nature monuments, known as Natuurmonumenten. While the castle is normally closed to the public, it does open on the Open Monumentendag – dates vary per year. You can also visit the estate with a guide

Slot Moermond

In Renesse, Slot Moermond is another 13th century castle. With its broad driveway and an authentic moat, it looks remarkably like it used to in days of yore. It nestles like a peaceful giant in the Landgoed Moermond estate, a protected nature reserve. Twice destroyed in wartime, and twice rebuilt, it is a real hotchpotch of styles from various periods, which only adds to its charm. It is only available for closed functions such as parties, business meetings and weddings – it’s an official wedding venue. You can stay overnight in the Landgoed Hotel.

Munnikenhof

In the 13th century – busy times for castle builders – the abbots of the Norbertijner Abdij in Middelburg established the Munnikenhof castle in Grijpskerke (‘munnik’ is monk). For centuries it was their country retreat. In the 17th century it was acquired by the renowned Dutch poet and statesman Jacob Cats, who hailed from Brouwershaven. Nowadays, the property contains a mini-campsite, holiday homes and accommodation for groups.

Kasteel Baarland

According to prints made at the peak of its glory, Kasteel Baarland was one large castle complex, complete with moats, outbuildings, gardens and walls. In the 17th century, some round turrets were still intact. Today, just the simple coach house remains, with Dutch hip-roofs and a dormer. It is open for visits several times a year.

Arendsslot

Arendsslot

The latest castle on the block is Arendsslot in ’s Heer Arendskerke. Locals call it ‘Sraskerke’. With French flair and Italian elegance, the newbie domain is truly exceptional in the Netherlands. Visits must be booked. A 21st century construction, with solar panels discretely built in, it was completed in 2009. Oh, you must have been a beautiful baby, ‘cos, baby, just look at you now. Exquisite.

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