Gemert castle has a long, tumultuous history. Over the centuries, it has had various functions. Gemert Castle is an ancient castle, an iconic heritage complex, located in a prominent spot in the centre of Gemert. Since 1916, Gemert Castle has been owned by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. A journey through time.
The Teutonic Order
During the third crusade in 1189, the clerical Teutonic Order was founded. The Gemert commandery belonged to the Balije (province) Alde Biezen and grew into an important commandery. Gemert castle is one of the bearers of the Brabant identity and one of the eight Brabant monastery complexes, part of which still consists of clearly recognisable medieval buildings. After a period of decline in the 15th century, the commandery experienced a new heyday from the 16th to the 18th century. The commandery became an important regional spiritual centre. More and more nobles joined the Teutonic Order and one of them was Rutger van Gemert. His family was Lord of Gemert. However, the influence of the Teutonic Order was so great that this family eventually had to relinquish power over Gemert.
Construction of the castle
In 1391, commissioned by Commander Hendrik Reinaart van Husen, construction of the Gemert Castle in North Brabant began. It was inhabited by knights of the Teutonic Order. After Napoleon Bonaparte lifted the French seizure of the property of the Teutonic Order, the Castle came into the hands of Marshal Nicolas Charles Oudinot. It was then sold to Adriaan van Riemsdijk. The Castle housed a cotton mill as well as the novitiate of Jesuits and a grand seminary of the Spiritines. The latter built a chapel there in 1936, which still stands today. The Castle is listed as a National Monument.
The castle did not come through the Second World War unscathed. The south wing of the Jesuit building was set on fire on 11 May 1940. Two years later, the fathers rebuilt the building with combined efforts. In the mid-1960s, interest in the priesthood declined in a short period of time. As a result, the priesthood at the castle had to be abolished in 1969. It again became the administrative centre of the Dutch Province of the Spiritines and the meeting centre for missionaries on leave. In addition, it functioned as a shelter for elderly fathers and brothers of the community.
With the disappearance of the priest students, the castle became more and more accessible to the people of Gemert. For liturgical celebrations in the chapel, but the gates also opened for all kinds of events and associations; book fairs, all kinds of markets and exhibitions, the theatre club, photo-reporting at weddings, et cetera. In the 1990s, the municipality rented space in the gatehouse and the Jesuit wing to house asylum seekers. In 2010, the last fathers moved out of the castle. Since then, almost the entire building has stood empty and access to the garden has been closed to visitors. Behind the scenes, the search began for a new owner and a new, sustainable destination. After its rich history, Gemert Castle is now being made fit for the future. It is planned that a major renovation will take place, after which visitors will again be welcome in all new and public facilities of the Castle.
Want to read more about the history of the castle? Check out the 'brief history of the castle' on the site of Heemkundekring Gemert
The Castle is located in a beautiful park set among extensive farmland. Via a drawbridge over the De Rips stream, you walk through a tower into the front gate, a Renaissance-style structure from around 1600. Through an inner gate from 1548 you reach the square in front of the building. Next to the gate is a corner pavilion with turrets from 1563. The main building of the Castle was rebuilt in 1740 in Louis XIV style and consists of three wings. The new section stands on a vaulted basement of the original building from 1391.
Tip: Combine a visit to Gemert Castle with a day trip to the Boerenbondsmuseum, for example!