Loeverstein Castle

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Loeverstein Castle is part of a network of protection that extended down the Rivers Meuse and Waal for centuries. Originally built as a private home using stolen river taxes, the castle was quickly commandeered by the government of the day while the owner was away. The waterways that surround the castle are more than a mere moat. They are part of the waterlijn (water line) defence system that supplemented the castle fortifications. This unique method of defence was truly Dutch. Through this system the Dutch flooded the lands near the rivers to  about 1m deep block the passage of advancing armies. The system worked until WWII, which saw the introduction of military aircraft.

Inside the castle walls is one of the best interactive museums I have visited. Visitors receive an electronic key shaped like an old medieval one. Throughout the castle are slots where you insert the key and become part of the medieval and Napoleonic world. There’s a Napoleonic era bomb shelter where soldiers await the flooding of the plains. There’s the story of Hugo de Groot who was held prisoner here but escaped in a book box (he is the lawyer who came up with the basis of all maritime law relating to where countries end and the sea begins). And there’s many other stories to hear. My favourite thing about the castle are the interactive games. I wore a heavy helmet and carried a sword. I rode a children’s horse toy because I couldn’t walk on the stilts. I shot laser-fitted rifles at medieval targets with an audio track either congratulating or chastising me depending on my accuracy. Castle activities are offered in Dutch, English and maybe also German and French.

 

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