Zeeland, land of castles

Zeeland has castles from the Middle Ages, mainly in remains, but there’s a spanking new one too. Castles are conjurers in the minds of us all, young and old, right? If you stay very quiet, you might just hear the hooves of the horses rumbling across the drawbridge. Hark, the yells of hearty men! Knights and damsels move against the cold, spitting torches lighting the way. A castle takes you back in time, at least in your thoughts.

In the Middle Ages, there were a great many castles in Zeeland. Castle mounds too, often called ‘mottes’ from the French or ‘vliedbergen’. They were raised by the farming nobility, part defences, part status symbol. They wanted to stand tall and be counted, literally. Often a castle mound was built next to farm buildings. Today only three such castles are still standing, but of the 200-plus mounds, 38 remain. Most are on Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland


In the 13th century – busy times for castle builders – the abbots of the Norbertijner Abdij in Middelburg established the Munnikenhof castle in Grijpskerke (‘munnik’ is monk). For centuries it was their country retreat. In the 17th century it was acquired by the renowned Dutch poet and statesman Jacob Cats, who hailed from Brouwershaven. Nowadays, the property contains a mini-campsite, holiday homes and accommodation for groups.