The official history of Breda starts with the chartering of the town in 1252, although the place was already a direct fiefdom of the Holy Roman Emperor before that. With its ascension to town status, Breda received the right to build fortifications, some of which have been preserved to this day - such as the Spanjaardsgat water gate, for example. Bouvigne Castle located to the south of the town is now home to public gardens.
In the Middle Ages and thereafter, Breda was controlled by different rulers. The town was initially under Spanish dominion from 1566 following the signing of the Compromise of Breda, which resulted in the foundation of the Beggars, a confederacy of 400 Dutch nobles, the nucleus of the rebellion against the Spanish occupiers. The resistance went on for quite a few years, during which Breda was besieged several times. The Spanish captured the town in 1581 and it was only liberated in 1590 by Maurice of Orange with a cunning ruse: 70 soldiers were able to gain entry to the fort by hiding in a peat barge. In 1625, the Spanish once again conquered the town during the Thirty Years' War, although it was retaken in 1637 by the United Provinces.
Nowadays, Breda is renowned for its importance to the music scene, among other things: The Breda Jazz Festival has been held throughout the old town for four days every year since 1971. Once electronic music began taking the world by storm, DJs also became more important to music. A native of Breda was honored in 2002 when Tiësto was named the best DJ in the world by DJ Mag, a title he was able hold for several years. Other big names followed in his footsteps, including Hardwell, Dannic, Funkerman, Suyano, and Kill the Buzz. A "DJ Walk of Fame" is set to be built in the town in their honor.
We have probably all had another famous export from Breda in our mouths at some point in our lives: The Mentos chew, invented by the brothers Michael and Pierre van Melle in 1932 as peppermint and caramel candy, may be manufactured elsewhere these days, but it originated in Breda. As such, we also have the town to thank indirectly for one of the best-loved school experiments - the cola and Mentos geyser. First presented to the public on the Late Show with David Letterman in 1999, everyone is now familiar with the chemical reaction and the associated geyser-like eruption. A Guinness world record was set in 2014 when 4,334 geysers were unleashed simultaneously.
Breda is especially worth visiting if you have an obsession with shoes (or happen to be Al Bundy). The town has the highest concentration of shoe stores of any Dutch town or city. And those who have to wait around while their partner enjoys an extended shopping tour can treat themselves to a nice cold beer, with a choice between Breda Royal Beer and Oranjeboom. Also worth seeing is one of the world's first panopticons, a circular prison that allows a single guard to see all the prisoners simultaneously from a central position.
Breda was not only important to the military in the Middle Ages and thereafter during the numerous sieges that followed. The Dutch Royal Military Academy can still be found in the town to this day. As ever, we have carefully put together a list of other places worth visiting while in Breda.
Restaurant: Con Fuego (www.restaurantconfuego.nl/en/welcome)
"We make life difficult for ourselves to bring the best to you" is the motto of Con Fuego, a restaurant committed to sating its guests' appetite for meat: Among the specialties is Black Angus meat from Argentina and the United States.
Restaurant: Happy Italy (www.happyitaly.nl/)
Happy Italy serves big portions of Italian cuisine at reasonable prices - and it is also very tasty. The menu includes classically Italian pizzas, pasta dishes, salads, and desserts ranging from pizza margherita to tiramisu.
Restaurant: Sumo Sushi & Grill (https://restaurantsumo.com/restaurants/breda/)
Given the name, there can be little doubt that sushi and other Japanese dishes are served here in an all-you-can-eat format. The ambience is atmospheric and reminiscent of a little Japanese enclave in the heart of Breda.
Bar: Dok19 (https://dok19.nl/)
Alongside small dishes and specialties such as kale, smoked sausage, and bacon, it goes without saying that beer is also served at Dok19 - and you are spoilt for choice, because the bar stocks a wide selection of beers. Events are also regularly held here.
Bar: Publieke Werken (www.cafepubliekewerken.com/)
You can also try a number of different beer specialties at Publieke Werken, but that's not all. The cozy interior is perfect for whiling away the afternoon, particularly since the menu also features a wide range of culinary delights.
Hotel: Nassau (www.hotelnassaubreda.nl/en/)
The Nassau is in the center of Breda - conveniently located close to public transport links. There are plenty of parking spaces and an adjoining restaurant, which is housed in a former convent. Those who wish to let off some steam after a stressful day can do precisely this in the hotel's own fitness center.
Hot spot: Valkenberg Park
Those who prefer to leave the hectic daily routine behind and flee the hustle and bustle of the streets should consider taking a nice stroll around Valkenberg Park in the town center. The well-kept park always imparts a feeling of tranquility and seclusion.
Hot spot: Pelikaan Club
The ultimate place for fitness and relaxation in equal measure: From the sauna and steam bath to state-of-the-art fitness equipment, there is everything the heart desires here. The luxurious ambience also conveys the feeling of belonging to the absolute fitness elite.