Sunday, September 15, 2013

Breda

Breda went down in history when Velázquez painted his magnificent The Surrender of Breda. Well, actually a couple of years before this masterpiece was created, when Breda stood against the invading Spanish troops enduring ten harsh months of siege before surrendering to the Spaniards. Eventually it was reconquered, besieged again and finally acknowledged as Dutch territory by the Treaty of Westfalia. After this brief historical introduction - I always find it interesting to dig a bit into the history of the places I go - it is time to tell a bit about my quick visit to Breda.

Before I left the Netherlands I set a couple of days to explore some of the cities which had been top of my list for a while, maybe for years. Breda wasn't even in my list but poor trip preparation and the sometimes tricky Dutch train network put it on my way when coming back from Delft earlier than expected. And I'm glad it did because I ended up spending c ouple of hours there and discovering another cosy city in the Netherlands. 

Like many Dutch cities, Breda has a pedestrian-friendly city centre which can be easily reached from the train station. I hopped off the train and walked on first to find a lively park - it was a hot sunny day of July and many people lay on the grass enjoying a drink and soaking some sunrays - and then many a quiet cobbled street dotted with terraces where more people enjoyed a drink or two and soaked some more sunrays. Breda is in the south of the Netherlands, in the province of North Brabant, and this whole area is known for the bourgondisch way of life celebrated by its people who indulge, more often than not, in hearty meals and savoury drinks, preferably when the sun is shining. In that sense, the city centre of Breda reminded me to Den Bosch, the capital of North Brabant, which also had broad streets full of terraces where people would sit to see and be seen.




My favourite place in Breda was the old beguinage (only in Dutch), which is really well preserved and one of the best in the Netherlands. Beguinages originated in the Middle Ages and used to be the homes of the beguines, women who devoted their lives to God without the restrictions impossed by the clerical life. These women would rely on benefactors and dedicate their time to help the poor and sick as well as to master the arts of music and poetry. Beguinages are usually composed of several small houses surrounding a central yard with a chapel or some other religious chambers. Nowadays, beguines are a definetely a thing of the past, as the last beguine passed away in Belgium this spring. The last beguine in Breda died in 1990.




8 comments:

  1. pretty photos! i love all the colorful flowers there!

    Sparkle & Chic

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    1. Thanks, Nieszka! There were many beautiful spots around Breda!

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  2. it's gorgeous! i love their cobblestone walkways and flowers. so pretty Irene!
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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    1. Thanks, Kim! I've also developed a love for a cobblestone streets and alleys since living in Europe :)

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  3. En cuanto vi el título lo primero en lo que pensé fue en el famoso cuadro de Velázquez. Unas fotos muy bonitas, seguro que es un sitio precioso.Bss, Irene:)

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    1. jajaja a mí me sonaba el nombre pero también pensaba que había habido algún tratado de Breda :p

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  4. Por fin de vuelta Irene, la verdad que me ha costado volver a la rutina despues del viaje que me he pegado, pero ya empiezo a contaros poquito a poco.
    No he estado en Breda, pero parece preciosa, yo creo que a veces esas paradas fuera de ruta son las mejores, las ciudades que mas sorprenden, me paso con Bolonia.
    Espero que haya ido todo genial nueva ciudad-nueva vida.
    besito guapa

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    1. Muchas gracias, Laia! La verdad que de momento todo bien por aquí, aunque sufriendo con la diferencia de temperaturas, que ya me ha costado un resfriado!
      Me alegro de que lo pasases genial en Tailandia, y sí, a veces las pequeñas ciudades dan grandes sorpresas :)

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