—  Municipality  —
Grote Kerk (Large Church) or Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (Church of Our Lady)


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 51°34′N 4°48′E / 51.567, 4.8
Country The Netherlands
Province North Brabant
 • Total 129.15 km2 (49.87 sq mi)
 • Land 126.87 km2 (48.98 sq mi)
 • Water 2.28 km2 (0.88 sq mi)
Population (31 May 2009)
 • Total 172,219
 • Density 1,358/km2 (3,520/sq mi)
  Source: CBS, Statline.
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Breda (About this sound pronunciation ) is a municipality and a city in the southern part of the Netherlands. The name Breda derived from brede Aa ('broad Aa') and refers to the confluence of the rivers Mark and Aa. As a fortified city, the city was a strategic military and political significance. Although a direct Fiefdom of the Holy Roman Emperor, the city obtained a municipal charter; the acquisition of Breda, through marriage by the house of Nassau ensured that Breda would be at the center of political and social life in the Low Countries.

Breda's urban area is home to an estimated 316,000 people (2008).


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 John III, Duke of Brabant. In 1350, the fief was resold to John II of Wassenaar (d. 1377). In 1403 the heiress of his line, Johanna of Polanen (1392–1445), married Engelbert I of Nassau (1370–1442). 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.[1]

Residence city[]

The acquisition of the city by the House of Orange-Nassau marked its emergence as a residenzstadt (residence city). The presence of the Orange-Nassau family attracted other of 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 built palace 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 metres (318 ft) high tower, called Grote Kerk (main church) or also Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (Church of Our Lady). In 1534 the modest medieval fortifications were impressively rebuilt by Henry III of Nassau-Breda.

This colorized 17th century copperplate depicts the destruction, rape, and pillage of Breda: soldiers are killing men and women and the city is burning.

Haultpenne's soldiers vent their fury on the citizens of Breda. in 1581.

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 1581, during the Eighty Years' War Breda was captured by surprise by Spanish and Flemish troops under the command of Claude de Berlaymont, also known as Haultpenne. Although the city had surrendered upon the condition that it would not be plundered, the troops vented their fury on the inhabitants; in the resulting mayhem, known as Haultpenne's Fury, over 500 citizens were killed. In 1590 it fell again into the hands of Maurice of Nassau, as 68 hand-picked men, concealed under the turf in a peat-boat, contrived to enter the town, a daring plan devised by Adriaen van Bergen. The so-called Spaniards Hole marks the spot where the peat-boat allegedly lay, although this is not historically proven.

Surrender of Breda, by Diego Velázquez.

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.

Stuart exiles[]

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.

File:Poles Breda.jpg

Van Slobbe, the Mayor of Breda, giving a welcome speech to the Polish 1st Armoured Division

File:Dziekujemy Wam Polacy.jpg

'Freed by the Poles', poster printed after liberation of Breda.

World War II[]

During the 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. 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)'. 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 Hugo aus der Fünten and Franz Fischer who both were released in 1989...


  • Breda (city) (~170,000)[2]
    • Ginneken (former village absorbed by city agglomeration)
    • Princenhage (former village absorbed by city agglomeration)
  • Prinsenbeek (~11,500) (added at the municipal reorganization in 1997)
  • Bavel (~7,000) (added at the municipal reorganization in 1997)
  • Teteringen (~6,500) (added at the municipal reorganization in 1997)
  • Ulvenhout (~4,700) (added at the municipal reorganization in 1997)


The city of Breda is divided in 7 city sectors:

  1. Breda Centrum (Centre)
  2. Breda West (West)
  3. Breda Noord-West (Haagse Beemden) (Northwest)
  4. Breda Noord ( North)
  5. Breda Oost (East)
  6. Breda Zuid-Oost (Southeast)
  7. Breda Zuid (South)


Economic activities were mainly industrial. Breda was a center of the food- and drinking 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.

Breda formerly housed the largest brewery in the Netherlands (Oranjeboom). Interbrew, the Belgian owner of the brewery, closed the brewery in 2004. The decline of industrial activity did not harm the city's economy. The main economic activities now are business and trade. When the new Central Station is built circa 2011, Breda will be connected by high-speed trains to the main European cities. After 2009, a high-speed shuttle connects Breda to Rotterdam – The Hague / Amsterdam and Antwerp – Brussels, on the HSL-Zuid line.


Breda has two railway stations, Breda and Breda-Prinsenbeek, providing connections with Zuid-Holland (DordrechtRotterdamDen Haag) and TilburgEindhoven, and from station Breda also to Roosendaal with connection to Vlissingen and Antwerp. In addition, trains also head north from Breda to Amsterdam and east to Den BoschNijmegen.

Begijnhof (Béguinage).

Chassé Theater (Chassé Theatre) Breda.


The city center contains beautiful old buildings and portions of the singels (moats). The shops and a shopping mall are located here. Various historic buildings, especially the Beguinage and the Chasse Theater, offer examples of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Breda's popular soccer club, NAC Breda, plays in the highest Dutch league, the Eredivisie. Breda's athletics club, A.V. Sprint, is the largest club of its kind in the Netherlands.


Breda hosts the following museums:

  • Breda's Museum
  • Begijnhof Breda Museum
  • Generaal Maczek Museum
  • Bier Reclame Museum
  • Graphic Design Museum
  • NAC Museum
  • Heemkundig Museum Paulus van Daesdonck
  • Lucifer Museum Latent
  • Museum Oorlog & Vrede
  • Nederlands Centrum voor Handwerken - HCH
  • Stichting Princenhaags Museum
  • Lokaal 01

Red Hair festival[]

Redheadday is a festival that takes place each first weekend of September. The two-day festival is a gathering of people with natural red hair, but is also focused on art related to the colour red. Activities during the festival are lectures, workshops and demonstrations. The festival attracts attendance from 20 countries and is free due to sponsorship of the local government.


  • The Dutch Royal Military Academy, Koninklijke Militaire Academie, is located in Breda.
  • "Colonel" Thomas Parker, the manager of Elvis Presley, was born in Breda as Andreas Cornelius van Kuijk.
  • Breda is also home to Tiësto, an international trance music artist.
  • Breda has one of the most famous Dutch choirs, the Sacramentskoor. It is a male choir (boys and men), semi-professional.
  • Breda is the birthplace of former Olympic swimmer Karin Brienesse and former field hockey player Remco van Wijk, who twice won the gold medal at the Summer Olympics with the Dutch National Team: 1996 and 2000.
  • Breda is the city where the Dutch composers Daan Manneke and Kristoffer Zegers live.
  • The Dutch football international Pierre van Hooijdonk played in Breda. Other formerly international Dutch football players from NAC Breda were Antoon (Rat) Verlegh, Kees Rijvers, Kees Kuijs, Leo Canjels, Daan Schrijvers, Frans Bouwmeester, Nico Rijnders, Ad Brouwers, Bertus Quaars, Martin Vreysen and Ton Lokhoff.
  • BREDA beer is a world renowned drink that is made in this region.
  • Peter Stuyvesant, (New Amsterdam), married Judith Bayard in the Walloon church in Breda on August 13, 1645

International relations[]

Twin towns – Sister cities[]

Breda is twinned with:


  1. ^ The Prince of Orange and subsequently King or Queen of the Netherlands continued to use the title; today Queen Beatrix claims the title Baron of Breda.
  2. ^ CBS 2008 Wijkinformatie Breda
  3. ^ "Wrocław Official Website – Partnership Cities of Wrocław". Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Flag of Germany.svg Flag of France.svg Flag of Poland.svg (in English, German, French and Polish) © 2007 Wrocław Municipality. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 

External links[]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Coordinates: 51°34′N 4°48′E / 51.567, 4.8

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Breda. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.