Breda Castle is located in north Brabant,
Netherlands. It is one of the first examples of monumental Renaissance architecture in the
Netherlands, constructed at a time (1530s) when large buildings there were still dominated by
the Late Gothic style from Brabant.
Breda Castle History
A fortress had stood on the site since the 13th century. In 1515–21
Count Henry III of Nassau (1483–1538) commissioned a gallery on the curtain wall and a portal,
both with ornate pediments, which was the first known piece of Renaissance architecture in the
In 1536 Henry initiated more thoroughgoing alterations, with the
intention of replacing the Gothic castle with a modern palace. The design comprised a
rectangular layout around a large courtyard overlooked by an arcade.
From the courtyard a stately, covered double staircase led to the
double-height great hall on the first floor, which occupied the entire west wing. The ground
floor below this hall was originally an open hall of columns. This design was finally completed
in 1686, when the medieval wing to the south was replaced.
Count Henry consulted the Italian artist Tommaso Vincidor on the
design. Vincidor had been working in Antwerp since 1520, supervising the manufacture of
tapestries to designs by Raphael, and he is recorded at Breda in 1534. This may account for the
fact that the overall impression of the inner court is Italian or Spanish, with the classical
superimposition of the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders.
There were, however, various clumsy details in the use of classical
features. The ground-floor arcade displayed classical tondi in the spandrels. The frieze and
triglyphs, however, were positioned with unclassical proportions.
The first floor has a series of Ionic pilasters, which have brackets
placed between the capitals and the entablature, a device taken from timber construction, which
seems unnecessary here. The second floor had, until extensive restoration work was
carried out in 1826, Corinthian half-columns, again with brackets above the
Over all the windows of this top floor were ornamental gables with
spiral scrolls and angels’ heads. This linked series of gables seems French rather than Italian
Kasteelplein 10, 4811 XC Breda, Netherlands. Get help with directions using the map provided
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