De Haar Castle
Europe in the Middle Ages
Life in Medieval Castles
Medieval Castles > Castles Holland > Loevestein Castle
Castle Loevestein is located in the Bommelerwaard, where the borders of the provinces Gelderland, Noord-Brabant, Zuid-Holland come together, and also where the rivers Maas and Waal meet.
The water-rich location has always had a big influence on the reachability of the castle. Each year there still is a substantial risk of high water, flooding the only road to the castle. Under these conditions the castle is still reachable by a ferry Woudrichem.
Built in: 1366
Explanation of the name
The most probable explanation is that the castle was named after its founder Dirk Loef van Horne. Loeve is a derivation of Loef and Stein (Old German) means stone. So we could translate Loevestein into Loef's stone house.
Other less likely explanations are:
- The current name is derived from the name Loewenstein after the French Johanna van Louvain.
- The name is derived from the Latin word lupus.
- The name is derived from the sailing term oploeven (to luff)
Loevestein was built around 1350 by Dirk Loef van Horne, Lord of Altena. The castle was built on this strategic (meeting point of rivers Maas and Waal) location in order to be able to collect toll from boats passing through the rivers.
The castle served as a state prison for political prisoners. The most famous resident helt in captivity was Hugo de Groot (Hugo Grotius) who was serving out a lifelong sentence. In 1621 he managed to pull off a daring and famous escape in a book-chest.
Currently Loevestein castle is used as a medieval museum.