Breda is a cultural hub and guarantees visitors a good time courtesy history, art and shopping.
Breda is a medieval gem in North Brabant at the junction of the rivers Mark and Aa. The historical city centre has something to offer for everyone. It stands out for its well preserved old buildings and moats. Breda has a colourful history and has been witness to many a major world event. A Roman allegiance, a devastating fire that burnt the city to the ground and then a Spanish takeover is just a few episodes that have left their mark. It was the Polish forces that liberated Breda after it was occupied by the Germans in the Second World War. As the official seat of the Orange-Nassau family for many years, there is a distinct Royal influence. For this reason, Breda is also called Nassau Stad. Today, it is a charming city where ancient fortifications, lovely parks and a lively population co-exist.
Breda is reached in just under 50 minutes via A58. Multiple parking options are available in and around the centre.
Regular trains run from Eindhoven to Breda. Direct connections are hassle-free and take around 45 minutes.
Breda’s most prominent landmark. Situated right in the centre on the Grote Markt, this imposing church features in the list of the “Top 100 Dutch Monuments”. Built in the Brabant Gothic style by the Dutch Royals, it has a tower with stunning views over the city. The interior is equally mesmerizing and boasts of housing one of the largest organs in the country. Prince Chapel is the old mausoleum of the ancestors of the Dutch Royal Family. Do gaze up at the ceiling which is actually covered in gold. The entrance is free and you can look up guided tours and exhibitions here.
A tribute to Breda’s rich past and justly listed in “Top 100 Dutch UNESCO Monuments”. Dating back to the 12th century, it has been an active participant in the city’s history. The castle has been home to Barons of Breda, Counts of Orange-Nassau and even taken over by the Spaniards. The occupants have also made major modifications to the castle and even rebuilt it from the grounds up several times. Now it is the seat of the Royal Military Academy. You can visit the castle only with a tour guide organized by VVV Breda. The gallery with its artwork and poster collection, library and the Royal Military Academy are covered in the tour. The castle boasts of having a grand fortress gateway called the Spaniard’s hole. Interestingly, this is the scene of Breda’s annual Jazz Festival.
Just behind the Breda castle lies the peaceful Valkenberg park. Previously the castle garden, it is a delight to visitors with its fountains, ponds and ducks. The name comes from the falcon house which stood at the edge of the park when it was part of the castle. Do take a picture in front of the Nassau Baroness Monument saluting the connection with the Dutch Royal Family. All roads lead to this green haven on a sunny day. It is the true Central Park of Breda with large green spaces, children’s play area and a restaurant.
A unique getaway and especially entertaining if you are visiting Breda with kids. A small and well-kept reptile zoo to brush up on your knowledge of these exotic animals. Opportunity to come face to face with crocodiles, turtles, snakes, iguanas and lizards along with some feeding demonstrations. If you are a daredevil, you can even hold a live snake during your visit! The entrance fee is modest and you can look up more details on their website.
Soak in the atmosphere and the silence of the Begijnhof. Situated at the Catharinastraat exit of the park, is this sanctuary established by a community of pious Catholic women (the Beguines). You can visit the 16th-century brick houses, the church and the central herb garden. Even to this day, only single women stay at the Beguinage. Take a peek into the lives of Beguines at the Begijnhof Museum. The Museum includes the original kitchen and living area. More information is available here.
Admire Breda’s historic old town with the Grote Markt, the Grote Kerk and the Town Hall. The ring of canals winds around the old town making it truly picture perfect. The Town Hall is an impressive building with its stained glass facade and old world charm. Another building that stands tall in this part of town is the Sint Antoniuskathedraal. The market stalls, cafes and ancient architecture make this town centre an ideal place to roam and enjoy the city. A short stroll takes you to the castle street with its old buildings and the statue of William III of Orange on horseback.
Follow the trails in the green Mastbos which is the woodland park bordering Breda. Tall pine trees, lovely trails, acres of space and picnic sites make it the perfect destination to get your fill of oxygen. Stretching to more than 1000 acres, do not be surprised if you spot some wildlife during your sojourn here. An interesting hike takes you to Castle Bouvigne – a quaint building that sits on a man-made lake and looks like its floating. While wandering around the castle and its diverse gardens, you might feel that you have stepped into the pages of a fairy tale.
Explore Breda’s museums
The Stedelijk Museum dates back a hundred years and is a must visit for heritage, history and visual art lovers. At the entrance of the Beguinage is the Miniatures Museum where you realize that small is indeed beautiful. If you happen to be in Breda on a Sunday, be sure to drop into the Beer Advertising Museum. Enjoy the collection of old beer advertising, brewery machines and transport from across Europe. Enjoy a beer with music at the cafe and be transported back to the days of the Industrial Revolution.
Cruise around Breda on a canal boat. Take a tour boat from the harbour and sail along the canals of Breda or the Markdal meadows. You could hire your own for extra fun in the summer months. An hour of bliss where you can enjoy views of water towers, the Spaniard’s hole and other landmarks of Breda.
Breda is teeming with a variety of cafes, restaurants and terraces. Relax in one of the cafes on Grote Markt like the Zeezicht or the Parc. The Ginnekenmarkt is a triangular square which is hugely popular with locals and tourists alike. A famous cafe in Breda is the De Beyerd Café whose owner has been knighted by the brewers of Belgium. There is no dearth of restaurants too and you can choose from flavours across the globe. Try the Bistro Sharlot or the Michelin starred Wolfslaar for a true Burgundian experience.
Breda is a true shoppers delight with streets offering fashion, accessories, interior decoration and cosy boutiques. Veemarktstraat is the most popular shopping street in all of Breda and is located near the Grote Markt. If the weather is inclement, dive into De Baroness, the indoor shopping centre. I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed. For all those luxury shoppers, Wilhelminastraat is the place to pick up some good branded items. Ginneken has some boutiques worth visiting too. Relax at the Kannen & Kruiken in Veemarktstraat with a quick bite. After all, you are going to be tired of having heaved all the things that you bought!
For Eindhoven News: Muktha Kartik Iyer