Het Markiezenhof Historisch Centrum, Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands

Het Markiezenhof, the oldest city palace in the Netherlands, this museum features the history of Bergen op Zoom and surrounding regions, temporary exhibitions as well as a permanent exhibition of fairground attractions.

The Markiezenhof is the oldest city palace of the Netherlands, located in the historical heart of Bergen op Zoom in the southwest of the country. The building, dating from the late medieval period, hosts a museum which shows the history of the town and region, including a large permanent exhibition on the history of fairs.

Besides the permanent collection on the local and regional history, the Markiezenhof regularly has temporary exhibitions featuring mostly local artists who display their work in disciplines such as photography, painting, sculpture or graphics.

Besides the museum, the Markiezenhof is also home to a diverse offer of events such as concerts, theatrical performances, the raptor shows in August and many more.

Many rooms in the building are excellently suitable to hold business events such as presentations, conference, meeting or even business diner. The Markiezenhof is furthermore a beloved location for wedding ceremonies and photo series of newly wed couples.

The Markiezenhof is a late Gothic city palace in Bergen op Zoom, residence of the lords and later the marquis of Bergen op Zoom. Nowadays exhibitions and events take place here. It is a national monument and belongs to the ‘Top 100 of the National Heritage Agency’ from 1990.

This diverse scale of activities makes the Markiezenhof the lively heart of the historical centre of Bergen op Zoom.

This palace was built at the end of the 15th century (1485) under the direction of the Mechelen architects Antoon I Keldermans and Rombout II Keldermans, members of the Mechelen family of architects Keldermans, commissioned by Jan II van Glymes, lord of Bergen op Zoom . The Heren van Bergen lived here mainly in the castle in Wouw. The Markiezenhof, or ‘the Hof van Bergen’ as it would be called, had to be dignified enough to receive high guests because Bergen op Zoom became an increasingly important trading city. It would become one of the finest late Gothic city palaces in Western Europe. It has an imposing façade with red window baskets. In the courtroom stands the 15,000 kg weighing Christoffelschouw from 1521 designed by the sculptor Rombout Keldermans. Here the gentlemen and marquis received their guests. In 1511 the palace was completed. Lord Jan II has not been able to experience completion itself; he died in 1494. In 1533 the lords of Bergen were elevated to marquis.

The Markiezenhof came into the hands of foreign royal houses at the end of the 17th century. In 1698 François Egon de la Tour d’Auvergne was the last Marquis who actually lived in the Markiezenhof. He had the palace modernized to his time. The arcade was bricked up, the tower was shortened and the rear façade was built in classic French style. The last generations of marquees that Bergen op Zoom had hardly ever entered the Markiezenhof because they lived in other places in Europe because of their international titles. When the marquisate of Bergen op Zoom came to an end in 1795, the French army seized the Markiezenhof and the palace was used as a military hospital. From 1815, the Markiezenhof became a barracks.

During the barracks, the palace fell into heavy disrepair. In the 60s of the 20th century, the restoration of the Markiezenhof began. The courtyards were restored to their original style, as was the case in the 15th century. The arcades opened again and the palace tower was reinstated. The French garden facade and the garden were also restored.

In 1987 the renovated Markiezenhof was opened by Queen Beatrix. From 2008 to October 2009 it was rebuilt and, among other things, the period rooms were renovated.

In the Hofzaal you will find the beautifully sculpted Christoffelschouw, a 15,000 kg heavy fireplace from 1521, designed by Rombout Keldermans. The marquis received their high-ranking guests in the Hofzaal.

Now there is a museum where one can get acquainted with the way of life of the awning. There are four period rooms, including the Henriëttekamer and the Theodoorkamer with portraits of earlier awnings. The period rooms are equipped with furniture and decorative and utensils from the 16th to 18th centuries.

There is a permanent exhibition, Fragile Mountains, of earthenware.

In the Blauwe Zaal is a copy of the model from 1747 van Bergen op Zoom. The original is in the Musée Plan Reliefs in Paris. The model shows the transition from the old settlement period to the modern times of Bergen op Zoom.

The Markiezenhof Museum, together with De Maagd Theater and the Center for the Arts, is part of the (municipal) Cultuurbedrijf Bergen op Zoom.

The Markiezenhof wants to present itself as a modern city museum and play an active role in the cultural and monumental Bergen op Zoom. The city palace in which the museum is located is a platform for art, culture and heritage. We are currently working hard on the new policy plan of the museum.

The Gevangenpoort, the oldest monument in the city (1350) has been an outpost of the Markiezenhof since September 2015. After a thorough restoration, refurbishment of the interior and the decoration of an exhibition, there is plenty to see and experience for young and old. Expert guides give guided tours in the Gate. An exciting Escape Room is located at the bottom of the building.

The Markiezenhof puts itself and Bergen op Zoom on the map by actively programming exhibitions and activities within its own complex (onsite), on locations in the city and the region (offsite) and via digital media (online). We assume the three key concepts in the Cultural Vision of the municipality of Bergen op Zoom: creative-innovative, talented and historical.

The Markiezenhof enriches Bergen op Zoom by offering an innovative and dynamic platform for art, culture and heritage together with as many people as possible inside and outside the municipality.

As an innovative city museum, the Markiezenhof plays an active role in cultural, museum and monumental Bergen op Zoom. To this end it operates as a contemporary network museum: expert, collaborative, interactive and socially involved.

In the Markiezenhof there is a museum café, a small shop and a library. You can also marry. Open all year from Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Guided tours for groups are possible.

In the Markiezenhof there is a fun fair exhibition. Counterfeit is a 16th-century market and fun fair square. There is also a miniature funfair.

The Friends of the Markiezenhof Foundation works closely with the museum.

As a friend of the Markiezenhof you support the museum and you have free access to the building. You will be invited annually for the Friends’ Eve with lectures and presentations followed by a drink and snack. Friends also receive special leaflets and printed publications, including the quarterly publication ‘De Blikopener’ with news, background and current affairs.

For more than 45 years, the Friends of the Markiezenhof Foundation is committed to maintaining the unique, late-medieval city palace of Bergen op Zoom. A well-known initiative of the foundation is the ‘Junior Award of the Marquis’: an incentive prize for young, creative talent, this prize is awarded every two years.

The Markiezenhof is each year dedicated to the Heritage Day. Since 2003 the Bergse pride is also a miniature in Madurodam. The dungeon of the Markiezenhof is still intact.