The name Breda descends from a contraction of the Brede (wide) Aa. This is the point where two rivers, the Mark and the Aa, flow together. In the year 1252 Breda obtained its municipal rights and at the beginning of the 14th century Breda was walled in. Also, in the fourteenth century the city was surrounded with mouts, so called ‘singels’. Around the city you can still find them. All the streets surrounding the city were laid in an oval shape, which is a noticeable sign for old fortified cities.
Monuments, where ever you look!
In the city centre there are a lot of monuments, but there is one particular that makes Breda recognisable from a great distance and that is ‘De Grote’ or ‘Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk’. This beautiful church from the 15th centrury can be admired from almost every place in Breda.
The so-called ´Spanjaardsgat´ flanked by two heptagonal towers reminds visitors of the time Breda was in hands of the Spaniards. The 'Castle of Breda' shows the historical relation between Breda and the home of Oranje Nassau. The ancestors of the Dutch Royal Family, the Nassaus, were of great importance for Breda.
In 1198 the castle was a fortress. During the centuries many changes have been made to the castle. Since 1828 the Royal Military Academy (KMA) has the castle in use.
Next to the Castle of Breda you will find the city park ‘Valkenberg’. Untill 1812 this park was part of the castle and only accesible for the ‘Heeren van Breda’. From origin, the park was a forest, with high trees. In the 17th century this changed, when the forest was transformed into a park with a more french style.
In 1995 the park was renovated.
In the historical city centre lies the peaceful ´Begijnhof.’ Untill 1990 the court was inhabited by beguines, the statue in the garden still reminds of them (a replica of this statue is for sale at the VVV). In the herb garden you will find hundreds of different herbs.
The Catharinastraat, where the Begijnhof is situated, has undergone many changes in its long history, yet it has been able to keep its grandeur. For example, the stately ‘Huis van Wijngaerde’ at number 9 is worth a visit.
We have mentioned the characteristic combination of rich history and high-principled modern architecture in Breda. For instance, you will find the Baroness, no, not a noble lady, but an indoor shopping mall in the heart of Breda, and the shopping centre ‘’t Sas’ right next to the medieval ‘Grote Markt’.
Where contemporary and historic architecture meet
Breda also possesses buildings of the modern architect Hertzberger: The everywhere praised 'Chassé Theatre' and the library/school of music ‘Nieuwe Veste’. The tasteful combination of old and modern art can also be admired in ‘Breda’s museum’, situated in former military barracks. Another fine piece of architectorial work is the pop stage Mezz concerts & dance, and not to be forgotten, the Holland Casino, situated in a magnificently rebuilt monastery in the centre of Breda, and the biggest casino in Europe.
Apart from its history and its culture Breda is, above all, known for its kind-hearted burgundian atmosphere which is characteristic for all of the older, southern cities, where one knows how to enjoy life. In Breda the many terraces, bars and restaurants contribute to make the cosy and friendly image of the city more than true! Here you can taste the real Brabant exuberant lifestyle.
We welcome you in the finest city of the south and wish you great pleasure in exploring Breda.
See you in Breda!