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Helmond Castle and Het Oude Huys

Helmond Castle and Het Oude Huys

Helmond Castle (Kasteel Helmond) was built nearly 700 years ago in the city of the same name. This square structure with circular corner towers is something straight out of a children’s drawing.

It is the largest moated castle in the Netherlands and is easily accessible by foot, car, and public transport thanks to its strategic location. Helmond Castle is an urban castle with a beautiful garden that is open to the general public. In addition to offering a place to relax, the garden also features several statues by various artists.

Together, Helmond Castle and the art gallery Kunsthal Helmond form Helmond Museum. Both museums are within walking distance of each other, separated by the Zuid-Willemsvaart canal in the city centre and close to shops, cultural hotspots, restaurants, and sports and leisure facilities.

History
The castle was most likely built between 1325 and 1350 by Lodewijk Berthout van Berlaer, the lord of Helmond. The square structure, the round corner towers, and the moat were planned from the beginning. The structure symbolized the family’s wealth and power and helped to create a strong and strategic line of defence along the north-eastern border of the Duchy of Brabant.┬áThe castle’s design was in keeping with the prevailing architectural aesthetic of the time. In addition, the stone structure considerably improved the living situation of the Berlaer family.

‘t Oude Huys
Before the Berlaer family moved into the castle, they lived in ‘t Oude Huys (‘the old house’), an outdated wooden castle with a keep located just a few hundred metres from the new castle in a moor in the Aa river valley. ‘t Oude Huys was a complex of wooden buildings. A wooden bridge led past a wooden palisade to the courtyard.┬áThis was the first castle in Helmond, built between 1170 and 1175. Maria of Brabant was the first resident of ‘t Oude Huys. She was the daughter of Duke Henry I of Brabant and briefly served as Holy Roman Empress following her marriage to Emperor Otto IV. After his death in 1218 she married Count William I of Holland. Maria was known as a deeply religious woman, a characteristic that sparked a local legend: Maria was hunting with her knights when her horse became stuck in a bog. She promised to open an abbey at this very spot if she were to be freed from her plight. She made good on her promise and established Binderen Abbey, the name inspired by her heartfelt cry when she was stuck in the swamp: ”k binder in’.

Castle families
The new castle took a long time to construct, with its current form only beginning to take shape towards the end of the seventeenth century. The castle, which originally served as a military defence, managed to stand the test of time despite a brief siege by Prince Maurits of Orange during the Eighty Years’ War and a devastating fire in 1549.

Helmond Castle was owned by four distinct noblemen over the years who lived there with their families and their servants: the Van Berlaers, the Van Cortenbachs, the Van Arbergs, and the Wesselman van Helmond family. Each family left their own unique mark on the castle. The Van Arberg family, for instance, was largely absent and left the castle’s management to a steward. The Wesselman van Helmond family was ennobled by King William II and did a lot for the Helmond economy, such as constructing the Zuid-Willemsvaart canal.

City hall
When the last members of the Wesselman van Helmond family sold the castle gardens to Vlisco and bequeathed the castle itself to the municipality of Helmond in 1923, it began serving a new purpose as a city hall. The ancient building was first thoroughly restored and renovated, during which a new entrance, a large staircase, several corridors, and huge windows were added. This was at the expense of the spacious courtyard, which is now much smaller.

I do!
Since becoming a city hall, the castle could be rented as a wedding venue. At first, castle weddings were purely a formality and the real wedding, complete with wedding dress, took place in the church. This began to change in the 1960s, when weddings were increasingly viewed as exuberant and personal celebrations. These days, Helmond Castle is a popular venue to host both the wedding ceremony and the reception. After all, the most beautiful day of your life should be celebrated in style!

Renting the castle
The ballrooms can be rented for special occasions, events, conferences, symposiums, and company parties. For more information about weddings and event rentals, dial +31 492 587716.