The history of Valkenburg castle starts with a single dwelling tower, built atop mount Heunsberg by Gosewijn I in 1115.
Because the stronghold occupies a strategic position in a region disputed by both the duke of Brabant and the bishop of Cologne it is besieged, destroyed and rebuilt numerous times throughout the Middle Ages.
The castle passes from the House of Valkenburg to the House of Kleef by inheritance (1207) and is finally sold to the duke of Brabant in 1364. Henceforth it is no longer occupied by knights and their kinsmen but by government officials.
In 1672 the Republic of the United Netherlands is at war with France, England and the bishops of Cologne and Munster. William III judges Valkenburg castle too strong a fortress to fall into the hands of his enemies and has it blown up on 10/12/1672.
Although sadly the castle has been thoroughly demolished the visitor still gets a very good idea of its layout and can even catch glimpse of its former splendor.
Throughout a well signposted tour about thirty information panels with drawings and a few scale models provide ample information about the history of the fortress and the various structures on site. A small guidebook can also be purchased.
The tour of Valkenburg castle starts at the shield wall which once completely surrounded the castle. Aforementioned wall was connected to the town wall and its south side formerly boasted two watch towers.
Past the shield wall visitors walk through a long narrow corridor (= barbican) before arriving at the entrance to the castle proper, formerly protected by a drawbridge and a gatehouse.
The south east and north west end of the castle proper were once reinforced by two mighty towers, the Wolf tower and the Mill tower. The former has disappeared completely. Only part of the latter is still standing.
The main (west) wing of the castle is the best preserved. The roofless chapel and knights hall still allow visitors to visualize how luxurious life in the castle must have been.
Little more than foundations remain of the side (south) wing and its staircase tower.
In the courtyard visitors can admire the foundations of earlier constructions, including those of the 1115 tower dwelling.
During excavations in 1937 archeologists uncovered a network of secret tunnels under the castle. They lead to the Velvet cave and were once used by the occupants of the fortress to sneak out for provisioning or surprise attack during siege.
The secret tunnels and the Velvet cave can be visited with a guide except during end of year period.
The Velvet cave has a historical interest of its own as it housed a secret chapel during the French occupation in 1794. Several cave walls are decorated with murals.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.