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Loevestein Castle (Slot Loevestein) is a medieval castle located in Gelderland. It was built by the knight Dirc Loef van Horne between 1357 and 1397. The castle was part of the historic Hollandic Water Line, the main Dutch defence line until the Second World War, and now serves as a medieval and archeological museum.

  • Discover the story of the most famous escape in Dutch history.
  • Combine your visit with a walk through the surroundings and enjoy the quintessentially Dutch landscape.
  • Museum guides will tell you everything you want to know about knights and prisoners.
Loevestein 1
5307TG Poederoijen
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Located in the small town of Poederoyen in the province of Gelderland, Loevestein Castle is located where the Meuse and Waal rivers meet. Loevestein is a water castle that was built between 1357 and 1368. In addition to being a strategic defensive work, Loevestein Castle also earned a good income from charging a toll to travellers. In the early 17th century, Loevestein became an official state prison, and the location for the most famous escape in Dutch history. The Castle was also part of the Dutch Water Line.

The escape of Hugo Grotius

One of the most famous prisoners kept in Loevestein Castle was Hugo Grotius. This Rotterdam scholar and Grand Pensionary made a most spectacular escape from Loevestein Castle, where he had been sentenced to life in prison. Although Grotius was locked up, he did have the right to literature, and every now and then, a large chest full of books was delivered. In the beginning, the guards would check the chest, but after a while, this happened less and less frequently. This gave Hugo Grotius’ wife, Maria van Reigersberch, the idea to smuggle her husband out in the chest. One day, Hugo Grotius saw his chance and got into the chest. He escaped and fled to France.

Loevestein Castle and water

Water has always been important to Loevestein Castle; it is in fact the reason why it was built so strategically between the Maas and Waal rivers. When the castle was a state prison, water was the natural wall keeping the prisoners locked inside. When Loevestein became a part of the Old and New Dutch Waterlines, the castle helped to keep the enemies out! Even today it is an ongoing battle to maintain the balance between water, the castle and the ramparts. For this purpose, an ingenious system of locks and drainage was developed.

Thinking about water

Curious to see what would happen to the Netherlands if the water level rises? Loevestein Castle is opening a special exhibition on the theme of water: Denkend aan water. From March 25 until January 8 2023, you can learn what water means to Loevestein Castle and to the Netherlands. The exhibition was kicked off with a very special opening by artist Daan Roosegaarde, whose spectacular art work WATERLICHT reminds us of the importance of water innovation and the impact of climate change. Waves of light were created to shine on the castle through a combination of LEDs and lenses. The poetic WATERLICHT flooded the garrison as a virtual tsunami.

Unique nature reserve

When you visit Loevestein Castle, you are given a personal key so that you can discover the castle and its stories. Museum guides tell about knights, prisoners and stories. Children can listen to the story of the escape of Hugo de Groot, and they are allowed to climb into the book chest themselves. Loevestein Castle is an archaeological site. Discover traces of its former residents in the exhibitions of dug-up items. Furthermore, the castle lies in the middle of a unique nature reserve. A visit to Loevestein can be nicely combined with a walk through this beautiful area full of unique plants and birds.

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