If you take an old map of medieval Europe you will notice that you are looking at a jigsaw puzzle divided into a hundred pieces. We know that kings and queens lived in castles, but each nobleman used to build their own castle to protect their little piece of land from other competitive neighbors or envious noble family members.
Besides being a source of boasting, the castle was the economic center of every day village life. The everyday peasants looked towards the lords for protection from invading forces and roaming bandits.
As medieval times slowly ushered into a new age and countries started to unite borders the castle started to lose its original purpose. A lot of old castles would fall into ruin or be burned to the ground; mostly by accident by squatters or curious teens. For some castles, all that remains are old paintings, drawings and text that tell us of their existence. The ones that stood the test of time were rebuilt and restored and given new functions as monasteries, army barracks, hospitals, bookstores or hotel-restaurants.
The Dutch government has made great efforts to restore and preserve the old castles and they are now considered public protected monuments. Some castles are still privately owned by the descendants of long lines of nobility, but many have been opened to the public for visits and expositions.
Limburg is special in the fact that it has a large concentration of old castles, but also very unique compared to the rest of the country. From old traditional moat castles to French inspired châteaus. Ushered by the monetary benefits of the industrial revolution the nouveau riche could build their own castle inspired estates. The Neoclassicism art movement of the 19th century also led to a great increase of castle inspired mansions. Everybody wanted to live the romantic lifestyle fit for a king!
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