Montfort Castle is a 13th century castle located just outside Montfort’s city center in the Limburg province. It was built by Hendrik III van Gelre around 1260 on the site of a former fortification. Today, the castle stands in ruins, although the ruins themselves are still quite impressive.
Montfort Castle’s History
In its early days, Montfort Castle was simple in nature. It consisted of a curtain wall, two round towers and two open bastions. At the time, it was moated and located in marshlands that are inaccessible. The first floor of the castle was built higher than the surrounding lands to ensure it remained dry despite fluctuating water levels.
Once Hendrik passed away in 1284, the castle fell into the hands of the Dukes of Gelre. The castle was added in 1285 along with a new keep that was located just next to the entrance gate. The keep was referred to as a “beak-tower,” which was quite unique at the time. Its outermost walls pointed outward to reflect objects and its walls were 3.5 meters thick. This new keep was named “Grauwert,” or the Grey One and was commissioned by Count Reinoud I of Gelre. Count Reinoud never really had the chance to enjoy his keep, however. His son kept him prisoner in it from 1320 until his death six years later.
After his father’s passing, Count Reinald II of Gelre took over the castle. He married a sister of the Edward II, King of England. This changed his titled from Count to Duke. During this time, many new industrial and residential buildings were constructed alongside the castle. Not only did this strengthen the castle as a stronghold, but it also increased Reinald II’s prestige. Many medieval texts mention the castle and how it was considered impregnable.
In the following century, the castle would suffer severe damages. In the late 1400s, the castle was besieged by Karel the Bold and his troops. The castle was also besieged in 1493 and again in 1543 by Emperor Karvel V and his troops. With new artillery making the castle vulnerable, plans were made to build a new square wall that had bastioned corners. These were erected in 1550. Unfortunately, the castle would lose much of its defensive importance by the end of the 17th century.
Between 1685 and 1687, the outer defensive walls of the castle were torn down and sold. The keep itself was blown up and the moat was filled in. The mound that once housed the castle was dug off. For a long period of time, the castle ruins were used to supply cheap building materials to the local townspeople.
In 1840, a hunting lodge was built on the ruins of the northeast tower. This lodge also fell into ruin. The last private owner of the castle sold the ruins to the Valkenburg Castle Association in the 1950s.
Visit Montfort Castle
Montfort Castle is open to the public from May until the end of September. Opening days and times vary throughout the year, so be sure to visit the castle’s website before planning your visit.
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