The Dutch city of Breda, the home of the Counts of Nassau, is lively, noisy, old and modern at the same time. There is also attractive architecture, and many museums, and quite good restaurants with cafes. Perhaps no one will go to Breda specifically, but to make a stop on the way, for example, from Rotterdam to Antwerp – why not? Moreover, the last one from Breda is only fifty kilometers away.
On the first weekend of September, Breda annually hosts the Redhedday festival – as the name implies, this is a festival of redheads. It lasts two days, with lectures, workshops, demonstrations and other performances.
How to get to Breda
The most convenient way is by train from Amsterdam (2 hours), Antwerp (1 hour) or Rotterdam (30 minutes). You can also get to Breda by train from Brussels (less than 2 hours) or Middelburg (1 hour). There is also an option to get by bus with transfers from Antwerp, which is located just 50 km from Breda.
According to cachedhealth.com, Breda dates back to the 10th century, when the city belonged to the Roman Empire. Officially, Breda became a city in the middle of the 13th century, then several times passed from one overlord to another, and eventually became the residence of the counts of Nassau. This gave a powerful impetus to the development of Breda in the middle of the millennium, but a monstrous fire in 1534 undermined its prosperity, destroying almost the entire city completely: only the church and one and a half hundred houses survived from all the buildings.
Rumor has it that the great Pieter Brueghel (the elder) was born in Breda, although there is no exact evidence of this. There is only evidence about the world-famous DJ Tiesto: he is definitely a native of Breda.
Both the Flemings and the Spaniards managed to manage in Breda, but already from the 17th century. it was firmly secured by the Dutch. During World War II, Breda was occupied and liberated by Polish troops: that is why the city has a monument to General Maczek and the Polish First Division.
Attractions and attractions in Breda
The old town of Breda is very beautiful: there are as many ancient buildings, canals, bridges, island buildings right on the water. The Nassau family was quite rich and noble, and in the urban area you can still see many beautiful mansions built for the gentry. They are distinguished by their characteristic architecture: L-shaped or horseshoe-shaped with a courtyard, they are usually decorated with Gothic turrets and cruciform window frames made of stone. Drop by Katarinastraat or Kasteelplein to see them.
The central square of the city is the market Grote Markt. On it you can see the beautiful Grote church of the same name, the main attraction of Breda. The church was built in the Brabant Gothic style. Its bell tower does not quite reach the 100-meter height. The first stone church appeared here in the 15th century, although the Grotekirk was later completed and expanded. Until the middle of the 16th century. She was Catholic, then Protestant. The Grotekirk organ is one of the largest organs in the country, and was made in the 16th century, and in the 20th century. – Carefully restored. In the Chapel of the Princes, you can look at the tombs of the Counts of Nassau, the ancestors of the Dutch royal family. Amazing frescoes of the 16th century, made by the Italian artist Vincidor, a student of Raphael, adorn the ceiling of the chapel.
Another iconic structure of the city is the medieval castle. The fortress was built in Breda as early as the 12th century; in the 14th century the castle was fortified with four towers and surrounded by a canal, and in the 16th century. turned in the fashion of the time into a Renaissance palace. Later, the fortress was used as barracks and as a military hospital, and then the Royal Military Academy was located here. Near the castle, the city park Valkenberg (“Falcon Mountain”) was laid out, originally a forest park used for falconry, and since the 17th century. – more like a French-style garden.
Another interesting place is the Bedjinhof. Once semi-monastic, today this architectural ensemble has been preserved almost in its original form. There is a museum in house number 29, and on the territory there is a well-groomed garden with flower beds of useful herbs left over from the time when the sisters took care of them.
Other notable buildings in the city are, for example, the Joostkapel, a late Gothic church from the 15th century. with a high pointed dome. And the small monument to Captain van Levv, which stands on Starserf, is especially characteristic. This is a small monument that is not usually mentioned in the list of the main city attractions. Meanwhile, it was this captain of the Turfship ship who, with the help of a trick – like a Trojan with a horse – fooled the Spaniards who occupied the city in 1590. Miniature copies of the statue are sold at the tourist office and can be a good souvenir from Breda.
The modern look of Breda is characterized by two new buildings by the architect Herzberger. This is the famous modern building of the Chasse theater and the library, which is also a music school.
The Holland Casino in Breda is housed in a restored monastery building from the 16th century. buildings in the heart of the city. The very name of the building – “Kloosterkacerne” – is made up of two words, reflecting the primary purpose and subsequent use of the building: “monastery” and “barracks”. Today’s Holland, opened there, is the largest casino in Europe.
There are several quite interesting museums in Breda. In addition to the main ones, the city (the history of the city and the surrounding area) and the Bedjinhof, there is, for example, the Museum of Image (MOTI): a new museum dedicated to design and modern art, with a collection of exhibits, the earliest of which dates back to 1890. In addition, it is interesting Museum of General Maczek with a collection of documents from the Second World War, as well as the Museum of War and Peace. Finally, in Breda there is a museum of advertising and beer brands, where you can see all kinds of promotional materials dating back to 1960. It is likely that the local collection is the largest in Europe.
The best places to dine are Grotemarkt, Havermarkt and Haven. The best restaurants of Breda are concentrated here.
Breda is considered a good city for shopping. And in fact, there is a huge variety of all kinds of shops and large stores. Here they buy fashionable clothes, shoes, accessories, interior design items and expensive boutique items. The main shopping areas are ‘t Sas, Baroness and Ginneken, while the most popular is Veemarkstraat. On Wilhelminastraat there are mainly luxury boutiques of exclusive brands, and on Ginnekenweg and Neuve Ginnekenstraat there are shops of vintage gizmos and antiques. The market on the Grotemarkt in Breda is open on Tuesdays and Fridays, the organic market on the Weemarktstraat is on Tuesdays, and the flea market on the Ginneken is on Saturdays.
Right outside the city limits is the age-old Mastbos forest, written references to which are found in sources from the beginning of the 16th century. Here tourists are waiting for beautiful lakes, fields, many birds and complete unity with nature.
To the south of the city is Bouvin Castle, which, like in a fairy tale, stands right on a forest lake. The castle was built in the middle of the 16th century. and today, alas, closed to the public. But even an external inspection is worth a visit here: the peculiarity of the castle is a beautiful garden around. The garden was created at the beginning of the 20th century. and consists of three gardens in different styles: English, German and French, with an amazing collection of sculptures. The garden is completely free to visit, and weddings are often held in the castle.
5 things to do in Breda:
- Pay attention to house number 9 on Katarinastraat.
- Try local beer “Orangebum”.
- Ride along the canals of Breda on a boat with a guided tour. Boats depart from the harbor.
- Sit in the most famous cafe-bar of the city “De Bommel” with a huge terrace in the style of an old-fashioned pub. Or not to sit, but to dance here on Saturday evening.
- To see a nicely decorated outdoor mobile organ and listen to what he plays.
On the first weekend of September, Breda annually hosts the Redhedday festival – as the name implies, this is a festival of redheads. It lasts 2 days, with lectures, workshops, demonstrations and other performances. The festival is attended by residents of several dozen countries from all over Europe; in addition, it is completely free for participants, as it is sponsored by local authorities.
And since 1971, the city has hosted an annual jazz festival, one of the largest in Holland and in Europe in general. Every year the festival program includes about 175 concerts, and about 250 thousand people attend them. The festival lasts 4 days and is always timed to coincide with the Christian holiday of the Ascension. Many free concerts take place outdoors, while more serious bands play indoor venues