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Breda is a city in the Dutch province of North Brabant. It has a long history as a military stronghold and army base. Still today, important parts of the Dutch military still reside here. The military character is still at the heart of town, as the national Dutch Military Academy resides in the historic Castle of Breda, right in the centre of the old town.
|POPULATION :||• Municipality 180,420|
• Urban 180,420
• Metro 324,812
• Metro region 553,706
• Brabant CMSA 1,932,055
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)|
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|LANGUAGE :||Dutch (official)|
|AREA :||• Municipality 128.68 km2 (49.68 sq mi)|
• Land 126.04 km2 (48.66 sq mi)
• Water 2.64 km2 (1.02 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||3 m (10 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||51°35′N 4°47′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.6%|
• Female: 50.4%
|AREA CODE :||076|
|POSTAL CODE :||4800–4841, 4847, 4850–4854|
|DIALING CODE :||+31 76|
The city center contains old buildings and portions of the singels (moats) and the harbour. Focal point is the Grote Markt, the main square with pubs and sidewalk cafes.
Park Valkenberg is a major public park, halfway between the main railway station Breda and the Grote Markt.
Major historic buildings include:
- The Grote Kerk (Large Church) or Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (Church of Our Lady), a major example of the Brabant style of Gothic Architecture.
- The Castle of Breda.
- The Begijnhof, a Beguinage.
- Saint Anthony's Cathedral (Sint-Antoniuskathedraal), the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Breda.
- City hall.
- The Spanjaardsgat, a 16th-century water gate.
Tourist Information Office
The VVV has 2 offices in town. The primary one is across the train station, but there's a smaller office with more limited opening hours on the Grote Markt.
In the 11th century, Breda was a direct fief of the Holy Roman Emperor, its earliest known lord being Henry of Brunesheim (1080–1125). The city of Breda obtained a municipal charter in 1252. After that Breda had the rights to build fortifications. The city constructed brick walls and Roman-style gates.
In 1327 Adelheid of Gaveren Breda sold Breda to Duke Johannes III of Brabant. In 1350, the fief was resold to Johannes II of Wassenaar (d. 1377). In 1403 the heiress of his line, Johanna of Polanen(1392–1445), married Engelbert I of Nassau (1370–1442) (his sarcophagus is in the Grote Kerk in Breda). Through her, the city came into the possession of the house of Nassau, where it remained until 1795, passing to William I of Orange (1533–1584), stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht and leader of the Dutch revolt. Thus, the baron of Breda was also count of Nassau, Germany, prince of Orange and stadtholder of the Dutch Republic (from 1572–1650, 1672–1702, 1747–1795). Breda remained part of the barony Breda until it was taken by French revolutionary forces in 1795.
The acquisition of the city by the House of Orange-Nassau marked its emergence as a residentiestad (residence city). The presence of the Orange-Nassau family attracted other nobles, who built palatial residences in the old quarters of the city. The most impressive one, built by the Italian architect Thomas Vincidor de Bologna for the first Dutch prince, was the first renaissance-style palace built north of the Alps. In the 15th century the city's physical, economic and strategic importance expanded rapidly. A great church was built in Brabantine Gothic style with a gallant 97-metre-high (318 ft) tower, called Grote Kerk (main church) or also Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (Church of Our Lady). In 1534 Henry III of Nassau-Breda rebuilt the modest medieval fortifications in impressive style.
In 1534 a fire destroyed over 90 percent of the city, close to 1300 houses, churches and chapels and the town hall. Only 150 houses and the main church remained. In July of 1581, during the Eighty Years' War, Breda was captured by surprise by Spanish troops then under the command of Claudius van Barlaymont, whose sobriquet was Haultpenne (Siege of Breda (1581)). Although the city had surrendered upon the condition that it would not be plundered, the troops vented their fury upon the inhabitants. In the resulting mayhem, known as Haultpenne's Fury, over 500 citizens were killed. In March of 1590, Breda fell back into the hands of the Dutch and Maurice of Nassau, when a 68 men hand-picked force, concealed under the turf of a peat-boat, had contrived to enter the city in a daring plan devised by Adriaen van Bergen(Siege of Breda (1590)). The so-called Spaniards Hole marks the spot where the peat-boat allegedly lay, although this has not been historically proven.
After a ten-month siege in 1624–25, the city surrendered to the Spaniards under Spinola; the event was immortalized by Diego Velázquez. In 1637 Breda was recaptured by Frederick Henry of Orange after a four-month siege, and in 1648 it was finally ceded to the Dutch Republic by the Treaty of Westphalia.
The exiled Stuart pretender Charles II of England resided in Breda during most of his exile during the Cromwellian Commonwealth and Protectorate, thanks to the proximity of Charles's sister Mary, Princess Royal, the widow of Prince William II of Orange.
Based mostly on suggestions by Parliamentarian General George Monck, Charles II's Declaration of Breda (1660) made known the conditions of his acceptance of the crown of England which he was to accept/resume later in the same year.
The Treaty of Breda was signed in the city, July 31, 1667, bringing to an end the Second Anglo-Dutch War in which the Dutch faced the same Charles II who had been their guest. Between 1746 and 1748 it was the site of the Congress of Breda a series of talks between Britain and France aimed at bringing an end to the War of the Austrian Succession, which ultimately led to the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.
World War II
During World War II the city was under German occupation. It was liberated following a successful outflanking manoeuvre planned and performed by forces of 1st Polish Armoured Division of Gen. Maczek on October 29, 1944. Each year during Liberation Day festivities, Breda is visited by a large Polish contingent and the city of Breda reserves a special portion of the festivities for the fallen Polish soldiers. A museum and a monument honoring General Stanisław Maczek and the Polish 1st Armoured Division stands at the city center. General Maczek and soldiers of his division are buried in a nearby Polish military cemetery.
Breda was the site of one of the first panopticon prison establishments,Koepelgevangenis. This prison housed the only German war criminals ever to be imprisoned in the Netherlands for their war crimes during the Second World War. They were known as the 'Breda Four (and later three)' or "Vier von Breda". They were Willy Paul Franz Lages who was released in 1966 due to serious illness, Joseph Johann Kotälla who died in prison in 1979, Ferdinand aus der Fünten and Franz Fischer who both were released in 1989.
Historically, economic activities were mainly industrial. Breda was a center of the food- and drink industry. Companies like Hero (lemonade), Van Melle(Mentos), De Faam (liquorice) and Kwatta (chocolate) are famous throughout Western Europe. Breda also had a sugar factory, supplying its best-known products. BREDA beer is a world-renowned drink that is made in this region.
Also, Breda formerly housed the largest brewery in the Netherlands (Oranjeboom). Interbrew, the Belgian owner of the brewery, closed the brewery in 2004. With the closing of Oranjeboom Brewery, Breda beer production was moved to both Bremen and Leuven, until 2008 when Randalls Brewery (in Guernsey) acquired the licence. Guernsey is now the only place in the world where draught Breda is brewed.
However, the decline of industrial activity did not harm the city's economy. Nowadays, Breda is a service oriented economy based on business, trade and logistics. A growing number of international companies choose to establish their head office for Benelux operations in Breda. Examples of these companies are Abbott Laboratories,General Electric, ExxonMobil, Texaco,Scania, Dockwise, Toshiba, Alfa Laval,Krohne Oil & Gas, General Motors,Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers and Amgen. Also, the food industry is still largely represented by companies such as Hero Group, Perfetti Van Melle, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Royal Cosun. Furthermore, the city is host to the headquarters of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Because of its central location between the ports of Antwerp andRotterdam, the city also attracts logistics companies.
The main shopping areas of Breda are the city centre and the southern part of Breda. Known shopping centres are De Barones and 't Sas. Major shopping streets are the Eindstraat,Ginnekenstraat, Wilhelminastraat and Ginnekenweg. A market is held on the Grote Markt every Tuesday and Friday from 9 AM to 1 PM. A book and antique market is held on Wednesday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
The city of Breda is divided in 7 city sectors:
- Breda Centrum (Centre)
- Breda West (West)
- Breda Noord-West (Haagse Beemden) (Northwest)
- Breda Noord ( North)
- Breda Oost (East), which includes the Zandberg neighborhood
- Breda Zuid-Oost (Southeast)
- Breda Zuid (South)
Prices in Breda
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.00|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€5.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€30.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€50.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€7.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€3.50|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€4.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€8.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.13|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€6.20|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M.)||1||€|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€|
65 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
220 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Breda does not have a commercial airport, but thanks to the excellent public transportation system of the Netherlands, it can be reached easily from numerous airports in the Netherlands and even in Belgium.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (IATA:AMS) is the largest in the Netherlands and one of the most important global hubs, with extensive flight connection network across many continents. From the airport's train station (directly underneath the terminal), NS Dutch Railways operates frequent Intercity Direct high-speed rail service every 30 minutes to Breda. The journey takes 1 hour and costs €21.40 one-way (including €2.40 supplement for using the Intercity Direct)
Rotterdam The Hague Airport (IATA: RTM) is closer to Breda and served by a number of short-haul connections. From there, one needs to take RET's bus 33 to Rotterdam Centraal railway station and continue to Breda by the same Intercity Direct or regular Intercity to Breda. The total journey takes about an hour as well and costs €11 (Intercity Direct supplement does not apply, as it is only required for journeys including the stretch between Rotterdam and Schiphol).
Eindhoven Airport (IATA: EIN) is the country's second-largest airport by number of passengers, served mostly by low-fare traffic from all over Europe. Again, one needs to take a bus from the airport to Eindhoven's railway station and change to an Intercity train to Breda, with a total journey time of slightly above 1 hour and costs €12.90.
Brussels Airport (IATA: BRU) is another international and intercontinental hub close to Breda, with many flights to Africa in particular. It has an integrated train station as well, but trains from Brussels Airport no longer run directly to Breda - one has to change in Roosendaal. The total journey time is 1.5 hours and cost of both train tickets should not come above €20.
Breda is a major railway hub. Two railway lines meet at the Breda station - the north-south line from Rotterdam to the Belgian border, with further extensions to Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport and The Hague, and the east-west line branching out in Breda through Tilburg towards Eindhoven and 's-Hertogenbosch. The latter connects to branches going to Utrecht, Arnhem,Nijmegen and Zwolle. A variety of trains, including frequently stopping Sprinters, traverse those lines connecting Breda not only to those major cities but also many smaller stations along the way, such as Delft. Pretty much all of the Netherlands can be reached from Breda by trains with one train change.
High-speed premium Intercity Direct trains connect Breda to Amsterdam,Schiphol and Rotterdam without intermediate stops. Unfortunately, with the cancellation of high-speed Fyra trains, Breda has lost its international connections and passengers going to or from Antwerp and Brussels need to change in Roosendaal along the way.
Train schedules and ticket prices can be found on the Nederlandse Spoorwegen website.
From Amsterdam, Breda can be reached by taking the A2 to Utrecht and then the A27. Breda is less than a 90 minute drive from the three main ferry ports in Holland. From Rotterdam, Breda can be reached by taking the A16 to Breda, which will take about 30 to 40 minutes.
P&O Ferries operates overnight ferry service between Hull, England and Rotterdam, the nearest port to Breda. The journey takes 12 hours.
Transportation - Get Around
The city centre and most of the sights are easy to discover on foot. Alternatively, biking is a good option, and bikes can be rented at the train station bike parking. The city bus is another option, circling through town.
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Breda is a well known shopping city in the Netherlands. In the old city centre you can find lots of clothing shops. You should visit the Wilhelminastraat. It is located just south of the city centre and hosts lots of exclusive shops. It has a very rich and nice atmosphere.
There's a wide choice of restaurants available throughout the centre. The best places to search are around the historic market squares: the Grote Markt, the Havermarkt and the Veemarktstraat all have a number of nice establishments. Some good options are:
- De 3 Vrienden, St. Janstraat 4, . 17-22h. Small but busy restaurant. They don't take credit cards. Rather than "starters" and "main courses", they have portions which are somewhere in between, for €8.50 each.
- Zuyd, Ginnekenweg 35, , e-mail:[email protected]. noon-2:30PM, 6PM-10PM. Closed Sun&Mon. Call ahead, as this ambitious place gets raving reviews and is regularly booked full. It offers fine dining French cuisine in a modern restaurant. The service is good too. Menu's start at €36,50, but if you're out for a splurge, try the 7 course tasting for €67.50. Mains from €26.50.
- Smaak en Beleving, Van Voorst tot Voorststraat 44, . The food in this small place is better than you might expect from its looks, and the portions are large. The dishes are simple but fresh and very tasty. They do take away too, so expect people to come in and out for that. With 3 course menus for €24.50, this is great quality for money though.
- Breda Bistro, Grote Markt 17, . 08.00-17.00h. A small place where you can find the real French dishes for breakfast and lunch and where everything is fresh. The service is also very kind and helpfull.
- Het Smaakwarenhuis, Ginnekenweg 11-13, . Closed Sun&Mon. This place is an interesting combination of a fresh food supermarket and a small restaurant. Virtually all products are produced in or directly around the Netherlands, and many in the region. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, often with a typical Dutch twist. Dinner is a set 3, 4 or 5 course meal with only a few choices. A fun place to discover Dutch produce. Breakfast around €5, from €32.50 for 3 course dinner.
- Restaurant Chocolat, Torenstraat 9.
- Restaurant Huispizzeria, Grote Markt 35, 076 - 5143900, e-mail:[email protected]. For the best authentic Italian style dishes. The service is very good and it's very cozy inside. They have something for everyone and every week they have a week special.
- Restaurant Dickens & Jones, Grote Markt 40.
- Restaurant Flinstering, Grote Markt 23.
Sights & Landmarks
- Grote Kerk (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk). Built in the Brabantine Gothic style in the 15th and 16th centuries, the church dedicated to Our Lady (as Virgin Mary is most often referred to in the Netherlands) boasts a tower of almost 100 metres and one of the largest organs in the country. Inside you will find in. al. thePrinsenkapel, where members of the Orange-Nassau family had been buried until the city of Breda fell to the Spanish.
- Old city hall (Oude Stadhuis).Compared to the large church, the city hall standing at its back in a wall of buildings lining up the elongated Grote Markt is inassuming at best. Apart from being a neat example of Dutch 18th century architecture, quite ascetic compared to the raging rococo found in many other countries at that time. The building is now a historic monument and home to several works of art as well as tourist information, but the actual municipal facilities have been moved to a modern building on Claudius Prinsenlaan.
- Castle of Breda. The castle originates in the 14th century and was substantially renewed in Renaissance style around 1540. Unfortunately, the castle is not available for visitors as it is home to the Military Academy since 1826, but of course it can still be admired from the outside.
- Begijnhof, Entrance is at the Catharinastraat. Daily 9AM-6PM.Even though it lies right in the middle of the bustling city centre, much of the historic peace and tranquillity remains in this former Béguinage. Today, although no beguines remain, the small houses around the charming courtyard are still inhabited by single ladies. There's a herb garden and a small museum at nr. 29, which is a side branch of the much larger Breda's Museum. €1 for the museum.
- Sint-Antoniuskathedraal(Cathedral of Saint Anthony).Nestled in a side street (incidentally named after Saint John), the cathedral church of the long-standing diocese of Breda is much less imposing than the Grote Kerk, but quite unique in that it is a 19th-century creation built in neoclassical style, both inside and out, which is a relative rarity as far as cathedrals go, especially in the Netherlands.
- Koepelgevangenis, Nassausingel 26. A panopticon-style prison, whose name refers to the cupola topping the round building with prison cells stacked in rounds on the outside walls around a large covered courtyard. It is this prison that held the "Breda four" - the only German prisoners of war that served their sentences after the Second World War in the Netherlands for war crimes committed. The prison building complex is no longer in use and a national monument, but generally is not open for sightseeing.
Museums & Galleries
- Breda's Museum, Chassépark, Parade 12, Breda, , e-mail: [email protected].Tue-Sun 11:30AM-5PM. The collection here focuses on local art and history. Apart from various modern and classic art works, it has a number of interesting models of the castle and battle ships, as well as weapons and drawings. €7, children and young people free.
- Generaal Maczek Museum, De la Reijweg 95, Breda, . This museum is dedicated to the 1st Polish Armoured Division, which under the leadership of General Stanislaw Maczek liberated important areas of the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945. (Military area; identification is required.)
- MOTI, Boschstraat 22, Breda, . Tue-Sun 10AM-17PM. Museum of the Image (MOTI) is the museum of visual culture. It is the only museum that focuses exclusively on visual culture and development of visual culture. €7,50, children age 4 and below free.
- Museum Oorlog & Vrede, Ginnekenweg 76, Breda, . (War and Peace Museum)
- Stichting Princenhaags Museum, Dreef 36, Breda, .
- Bier Reclame Museum, Haagweg 375, Breda, . Sun 11AM-23PM. This museum shows a permanent exhibition of mainly enamel signs (+/- 1000 pieces) and antique posters of old beer adverts. It is said to be the largest collection in The Netherlands or perhaps in Europe.
- Heemkundig Museum Paulus van Daesdonck, Pennendijk 1, Ulvenhout, .
Things to do
- Get a guided tour through the old moats of Breda. There's plenty of stories behind the historic façades. Book ahead via the tourist office. Alternatively, they sell a Dutch language booklet called "Historische Kilometer", which (if you can understand it) allows you to walk around yourself and still read up on the historic backgrounds.
- Visit the old neighbourhood Zandberg and Ginneken, just south of the Wilhelminastraat. It has lots of old merchants' houses and on the south end you will find the Mastbos, one of the nicest forests in the Netherlands.
- Rent a canoe and make your own way through the Breda canals. On Saturday and Sunday you can rent one from the starting point at Spanjaardsgat without reservation. For other days, reservations are required and bookable via the tourist office or via the Beleef Breda website
- Head out for a picnic in Park Valkenberg, a large and pleasant park halfway between the trainstation and the Grote Markts.