Heusden (photo: Johan Wieland)


Heusden is a fortified city that has been meticulously restored to its Golden Age splendor. For more in-depth coverage of Heusden, read our Place section in Issue 60 of Dutch the magazine…

Some interesting facts:

  • Heusden is so old that there is no record of when exactly the town received its city charter, sometime between 1231 and 1318 is the current best estimate.
  • Heusden Castle was blown to pieces on July 24, 1680 when lightning struck its tower. Some 70,000 pounds of gunpowder and a thousand grenades lay in storage in the castle, which were ignited. The city of Heusden survived pretty much intact, because the pressure wave that resulted from the explosion traveled away from the city instead of toward it.
  • On November 4, 1944, four hours before Heusden was liberated, 134 people were killed when the German occupiers blew up the town hall tower. Many townspeople, lots of children among them, had sought refuge in the town hall basement as the battle for the town was raging. The tower collapsed on top of them.
  • In the 1950s urban planners wanted to tear down Heusden and its historic fortifications to make way for new development and a four-lane highway. But the historical importance of the town and the unique nature of its fortifications were recognized by the authorities just in time. The plans for razing the city were abandoned and a lengthy restoration project was started.
  • In 1978 Heusden was awarded the prestigious ‘Europa Nostra’ restoration prize, after its fortifications were reconstructed to their 1649 state, with the help of a map of the town by famed cartographer Joan Blaeu.

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Original article by: Tom Bijvoet