Visiting Valkenburg, The Netherlands, with its castle: proving that the country is not all flat!
No, it's not in the Ardennes ... but it could be
The Dutch town of Valkenburg, with its hilltop castle, is rather untypical of the widespread impression which foreign visitors have of towns in The Netherlands.
Some features and history
The fact is, this is Limburg, a province of The Netherlands which is in some ways quite unlike most of the other provinces of the country. It would also be accurate to say that, in a very simplified way, the further south that one travels in the Dutch province of Limburg (1), the more unlike typical Dutch scenes that one will find.
Valkenburg is a popular base for walks and tours in the surrounding hill-country.
The castle at Valkenburg, originally built in the 11th century, and which had been possessed by the Lords of Valkenburg for many years, was badly damaged, along with much of the town, in 1672. Since then, the castle remained a ruin, although from 1924 a local group has worked to preserve its heritage. The site attracts many visitors annually.
Portions of the old town wall also survived the destruction of 1672, at the hands of a Dutch army (at this time, the surrounding area was not yet part of The Netherlands).
My overall impression of Valkenburg is that its setting resembles the topography of southern Belgium's and northern Luxembourg's Ardennes hill-country more than it does of the sort of scenes associated with much of the remainder of The Netherlands.
Valkenburg has been associated with a number of prominent individuals; a few of these include: local writer in the Limburgs dialect Theodoor Dorren (1857-1937); Franciscan linguist Gerlach Royen (1880-1955); former government minister Camiel Eurlings (1973-).
The town of Valkenburg's full name is Valkenburg-aan-de-Geul, referring to the Geul River which flows through it. Valkenburg-aan-de-Geul is sometimes written in full in order to avoid confusion with a suburb of Katwijk, South Holland (Dutch: Zuid-Holland), also called Valkenburg.
(1) The situation is complicated by the fact that Belgium also has a province called Limburg, and it is also Dutch-speaking.
Also worth seeing
Eijsden (distance: 20 kilometres) has an interesting moated castle.
How to get there: Airlines flying to Amsterdam (Schipol) Airport from New York include Delta Airlines and KLM. Car rental is available at Amsterdam Airports. The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services between Amsterdam and Maastricht; a variety of bus and railroad connections between Maastricht and Valkenburg is often available. For up to date information, you are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting Maastricht, The Netherlands: a tale of the towers of two churches
- Visiting Eijsden, The Netherlands and its remarkable, moated castle: a treasure of Limburg
- Visiting Mamelis, The Netherlands: untypical hill country, and border complexities, too
- Visiting Holset, The Netherlands: the undulations of history in South Limburg
- Visiting Eindhoven, The Netherlands and its DAF museum: commemorating automobile and engineering her
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