The Ruins of Brederode

Today was Open Monuments Day in the Netherlands, in which thousands of historical monuments across the country are open to visitors for free. Tony was at basketball this afternoon, so I decided to take the kids out for some cultural enrichment. Somewhat at random, I chose a castle off the list that wasn’t too far away.

We rode the train to the Ruins of Brederode, a wonderful 13th century castle just an hour or so outside of Amsterdam. It’s near Haarlem, actually, or at least that was one of the last stops before the little country train stop where we got off. After a 15 minute walk, we ended up at the entrance of a charming place, a little decrepit for a castle, but very well preserved for a ruin. I am impressed that something made out of brick has lasted so long. It’s not the usual material I think of when it comes to castles.

You can see how excited Axa and Raj were to finally get there.

IMG_0261They did brighten up considerably when we reached the entrance to the castle, where they were presented with several bins full of medieval dress up clothing. Axa and Raj had eyes only for the swords.

IMG_0266The castle was surrounded by a moat, and the only entrance was by a bridge.

IMG_0273It was originally built in 1282 when the Lordship of Brederode was created, and the Brederode family figured quite heavily in the next few centuries of Dutch history, through such picturesquely named events as the Hook and Cod Wars and the Revolt of the Cheese and Bread Folk.

It was demolished and rebuilt several times, apparently all out of brick. Here’s a darling little model of one of the incarnations.

IMG_0275It was a pretty perfect castle; small enough to feel like the miniature fortified island it was, but big enough for some excellent exploring.

IMG_0276When we entered, they presented us with a map, which Raj diligently scrutinized to aid in his explorations, whilst Axa was devoted to more energetic pursuits.

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One of the most beautiful parts of being a parent is seeing how much your kids love each other. It’s the little things . . .

IMG_0281I loved the cute little grassy courtyard, which felt like it was almost underground.

IMG_0279I also liked the view from the top, of the idyllic Dutch countryside, which to this day thanks to this castle remains safe from any marauding Spanish hordes.

IMG_0304From the top of the keep, you could also look directly down to the ground floor inside, several stories below.

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According to the Bobbles, of course the best part was the stroopwafels at the end.

IMG_0317We had a lovely afternoon, and I recommend the Ruins of Brederode as a delightful day trip from Amsterdam, fun for all ages. We got in free today, but the normal entry cost is only EU3 for adults and EU1.50 for kids. Not sure if they always pass out swords at the door, though.

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