Valkenburg Castle is a ruined castle situated in Valkenburg, a town in the southern region of the Limburg province. Located on the Heunsberg, the castle now serves as a national monument.
Valkenburg Castle’s History
The original structure was built in 1115 by Gosewijn I Heinsberg in close proximity to the Trench castle. At the time, the fortification included a large tower that stood between 12 and 18 meters high and was constructed with flint and other hard stones. The tower would be destroyed in 1122 by Emperor Henry V’s army.
Gosewijn II built a new castle at the site of the ruined tower. The building was 15 meters tall and its walls were 2 feet thick. The castle was surrounded by a palisade for further protection. The castle and the town would eventually be given the “Valkenburg” name. After coming into conflict with the German emperor on several occasions, the castle would once again be destroyed along with the town in 1141.
In 1170, Gosewijn II died and passed the castle down to Gosewijn III. Gosewijn III had an excellent relationship with Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and would often stay with him in Italy. Eventually, he was given the title of “Count.” At this point, the castle was renovated once again. A decagonal tower was built and replaced the original sixteen square tower. A stone wall replaced the stockades and other buildings were constructed on the castle grounds. A complex was also built with a well chamber and a chapel.
Eventually, the tower would go on to be replaced and the castle grounds would continue to expand. Two wings would replace the tower, which was then surrounded by a shield wall and two defensive towers. A moat also surrounded the castle.
The castle was besieged numerous times throughout the Middle Ages. The castle was briefly occupied by the French in 1672. The castle would eventually fall into ruins. Today, a round tower, the Berkel gate, the Grendelpoort, two of the six gates and a part of the ramparts are all that remain of the fortress.
Secret underground passages were discovered under the castle in 1937 by restoration workers. These passages were used by the knights as escape routes in the event of a siege. The passages led the knights to the nearby Velvet Cave, which is where marl was mined at the time. The cave also served as a refuge for the people of Valkenburg during World War II.
The castle is now maintained by the Castle of Valkenburg Foundation and can be visited by the public. Visit the Valkenburg Castle website to find out the latest information on admission prices and opening hours.