In the 11th century, Breda was a direct fief of the Holy Roman Emperor, its earliest known lord being Henry of Brunesheim (1080–1125). The city of Breda obtained a municipal charter in 1252. After that Breda had the rights to build fortifications. The city constructed brick walls and Roman-style gates.
In 1327 Adelheid of Gaveren Breda sold Breda to Duke Johannes III of Brabant. In 1350, the fief was resold to Johannes II of Wassenaar (d. 1377). In 1403 the heiress of his line, Johanna of Polanen (1392–1445), married Engelbert I of Nassau (1370–1442) (his sarcophagus is in the Grote Kerk in Breda). Through her, the city came into the possession of the house of Nassau, where it remained until 1795, passing to William I of Orange (1533–1584), stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht and leader of the Dutch revolt. Thus, the baron of Breda was also count of Nassau, Germany, prince of Orange and stadtholder of the Dutch Republic (from 1572–1650, 1672–1702, 1747–1795). Breda remained part of the barony Breda until it was taken by French revolutionary forces in 1795.
The acquisition of the city by the House of Orange-Nassau marked its emergence as a residentiestad (residence city). The presence of the Orange-Nassau family attracted other nobles, who built palatial residences in the old quarters of the city. The most impressive one, built by the Italian architect Thomas Vincidor de Bologna for the first Dutch prince, was the first renaissance-style palace built north of the Alps. In the 15th century the city's physical, economic and strategic importance expanded rapidly. A great church was built in Brabantine Gothic style with a gallant 97-metre-high (318 ft) tower, called Grote Kerk (main church) or also Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (Church of Our Lady). In 1534 Henry III of Nassau-Breda rebuilt the modest medieval fortifications in impressive style.
In 1534 a fire destroyed over 90 percent of the city, close to 1300 houses, churches and chapels and the town hall. Only 150 houses and the main church remained. In July 1581, during the Eighty Years' War, Breda was captured by surprise by Spanish troops then under the command of Claudius van Barlaymont, whose sobriquet was Haultpenne (Siege of Breda (1581)). Although the city had surrendered upon the condition that it would not be plundered, the troops vented their fury upon the inhabitants. In the resulting mayhem, known as Haultpenne's Fury, over 500 citizens were killed. In March 1590, Breda fell back into the hands of the Dutch and Maurice of Nassau, when a 68 men hand-picked force, concealed under the turf of a peat-boat, had contrived to enter the city in a daring plan devised by Adriaen van Bergen (Siege of Breda (1590)). Around 1610 the construction of the Spanish Gate or "Spandjaardsgat" was started as a remembrance to that successful action.
After a ten-month siege in 1624–25, the city surrendered to the Spaniards under Spinola; the event was immortalized by Diego Velázquez. In 1637 Breda was recaptured by Frederick Henry of Orange after a four-month siege, and in 1648 it was finally ceded to the Dutch Republic by the Treaty of Westphalia.
The exiled Stuart Charles II of England resided in Breda during most of his exile during the Cromwellian Commonwealth and Protectorate, thanks to the proximity of Charles's sister Mary, Princess Royal, the widow of Prince William II of Orange.
Based mostly on suggestions by Parliamentarian General George Monck, Charles II's Declaration of Breda (1660) made known the conditions of his acceptance of the crown of England which he was to accept/resume later in the same year.
The Treaty of Breda was signed in the city, July 31, 1667, bringing to an end the Second Anglo-Dutch War in which the Dutch faced the same Charles II who had been their guest. Between 1746 and 1748 it was the site of the Congress of Breda a series of talks between Britain and France aimed at bringing an end to the War of the Austrian Succession, which ultimately led to the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.
During World War II the city was under German occupation. It was liberated following a successful outflanking manoeuvre planned and performed by forces of 1st Polish Armoured Division of Gen. Maczek on October 29, 1944. Each year during Liberation Day festivities, Breda is visited by a large Polish contingent and the city of Breda reserves a special portion of the festivities for the fallen Polish soldiers. A museum and a monument honoring General Stanisław Maczek and the Polish 1st Armoured Division stands at the city center. General Maczek and soldiers of his division are buried in a nearby Polish military cemetery.
Breda was the site of one of the first panopticon prison establishments, Koepelgevangenis. This prison housed the only German war criminals ever to be imprisoned in the Netherlands for their war crimes during the Second World War. They were known as the 'Breda Four (and later three)' or "Vier von Breda". They were Willy Paul Franz Lages who was released in 1966 due to serious illness, Joseph Johann Kotälla who died in prison in 1979, Ferdinand aus der Fünten and Franz Fischer who both were released in 1989.
Funten and Fischer died in 1989.Breda (city) (~170,000)Ginneken (former village absorbed by city agglomeration)
Princenhage (former village absorbed by city agglomeration)
Prinsenbeek (~11,500) (added at the municipal reorganization in 1997)
Bavel (~7,000) (added at the municipal reorganization in 1997)
Teteringen (~6,500) (added at the municipal reorganization in 1997)
Ulvenhout (~4,700) (added at the municipal reorganization in 1997)
The city of Breda is divided in 7 city sectors:
- Breda Centrum (Centre)
- Breda West (West)
- Breda Noord-West (Haagse Beemden) (Northwest)
- Breda Noord ( North)
- Breda Oost (East), which includes the Zandberg neighborhood
- Breda Zuid-Oost (Southeast)
- Breda Zuid (South)
Topographic map image of the city of Breda, March 2014. Click to enlarge.
Historically, economic activities were mainly industrial. Breda was a center of the food- and drink industry. Companies like Hero (lemonade), Van Melle (Mentos), De Faam (liquorice) and Kwatta (chocolate) are famous throughout Western Europe. Breda also had a sugar factory, supplying its best-known products. BREDA beer is a world-renowned drink that is made in this region.
Also, Breda formerly housed the largest brewery in the Netherlands (Oranjeboom). Interbrew, the Belgian owner of the brewery, closed the brewery in 2004. With the closing of Oranjeboom Brewery, Breda beer production was moved to both Bremen and Leuven, until 2008 when Randalls Brewery (in Guernsey) acquired the licence. Guernsey is now the only place in the world where draught Breda is brewed.
However, the decline of industrial activity did not harm the city's economy. Nowadays, Breda is a service oriented economy based on business, trade and logistics. A growing number of international companies choose to establish their head office for Benelux operations in Breda. Examples of these companies are Abbott Laboratories, General Electric, ExxonMobil, Texaco, Scania, Dockwise, Toshiba, Alfa Laval, Krohne Oil & Gas, General Motors, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers and Amgen. Also, the food industry is still largely represented by companies such as Hero Group, Perfetti Van Melle, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Royal Cosun. Furthermore, the city is host to the headquarters of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Because of its central location between the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam, the city also attracts logistics companies. Koch Media has its Benelux office in Breda.
The main shopping areas of Breda are the city centre and the southern part of Breda. Known shopping centres are De Barones and 't Sas. Major shopping streets are the Eindstraat, Ginnekenstraat, Wilhelminastraat and Ginnekenweg. A market is held on the Grote Markt every Tuesday and Friday from 9 AM to 1 PM. A book and antique market is held on Wednesday from 9 AM to 5 PM.
The city center contains old buildings and portions of the singels (moats) and the harbour. Focal point is the Grote Markt, the main square with pubs and sidewalk cafes.
Park Valkenberg is a major public park, halfway between the main railway station Breda and the Grote Markt.
Major historic buildings include:The Grote Kerk (Large Church) or Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (Church of Our Lady), a major example of the Brabant style of Gothic Architecture.
The Castle of Breda.
The Begijnhof, a Beguinage.
Saint Anthony's Cathedral (Sint-Antoniuskathedraal), the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Breda.
The Spanjaardsgat, a 16th-century water gate.
The spoken language is West Brabantian, which is very similar to colloquial Dutch.
Musical events are held in the Chasse Theater.
Redhead Day is a festival that takes place each first weekend of September. The two-day festival is a gathering of people with natural red hair, but is also focused on art related to the colour red. Activities during the festival are lectures, workshops and demonstrations. The festival attracts attendance from 20 countries and is free due to sponsorship of the local government. Furthermore, some people refer to Breda as the opposite of burning man.
Breda hosts the following museums:Breda's Museum – closed from 1 January 2017, pending moving elsewhere
Begijnhof Breda Museum
Generaal Maczek Museum
Bier Reclame Museum
Museum of the Image (MOTI). Previously called Graphic Design Museum. Closed from 1 January 2017, reopening spring 2017 as Stedelijk Museum Breda.
Heemkundig Museum Paulus van Daesdonck
Museum Oorlog & Vrede [War and Peace Museum]
Stichting Princenhaags Museum
Breda Dancetour (House Music)
Breda Jazz Festival
Redhead Day (Roodharigendag)
Breda's football club, NAC Breda, plays in the second highest Dutch league, the Eerste Divisie after being relegated from the 2014-15 Eredivisie via play-offs.
Breda's rugby club, Bredase Rugby Club
Breda's athletics club, A.V. Sprint, is the largest club of its kind in the Netherlands.
Breda's Golden Glory, is a kickboxing camp.
Every year in the month of October, the Bredase Singelloop is a major road running event on the half marathon distance with a field of national and international athletes.
The ethnic make-up of Breda, in 2017, is as follows:Dutch (140,216) (76.9%)
Moroccans (5,587) (3.1%)
Indonesians (5,407) (3.0%)
Turks (3,035) (1.7%)
Belgians (2,909) (1.6%)
Germans (2,718) (1.5%)
Antilleans/Arubans (2,176) (1.2%)
Polish (2,090) (1.1%)
Surinamese (2,044) (1.1%)
Others (17,313) (8.8%)
Charles II of England, lived in Breda for most of his exile during the Commonwealth of England. His sister, Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange was widow of Stadtholder William II, Prince of Orange and co-regent for their son William III sovereign Prince of Orange and later King of England, Scotland and Ireland.
Although neither of them were long-term residents of Breda, it was there, in 1618, that the young René Descartes (at the time, a soldier in the army of Prince Maurice of Nassau) first met, and had extensive conversations with, Dutch philosopher, mathematician, and scientist Isaac Beeckman (then temporarily resident in the town). This interaction with Beeckman seems to have changed the course of Descartes’ intellectual life, eventually leading him to the major innovations in mathematics, science, and philosophy for which he is famous.
"Colonel" Thomas Parker, the manager of Elvis Presley, born and raised in Breda as Andreas Cornelius van Kuijk.
Adriaen Cornelissen van der Donck (c. 1618–1655), first lawyer in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam; a polyglot
Breda is the birthplace and home to several internationally famous electronic dance music artists including R3hab, Dannic, W&W along with former World No.1 DJs — Tiësto and Hardwell. The title of their 2011 collaboration track, Zero 76 is derived from the dialing code of Breda.
Breda is also the birthplace of former Olympic swimmer Karin Brienesse and former field hockey player Remco van Wijk, who twice won the gold medal at the Summer Olympics with the Dutch National Team: 1996 and 2000.
Sculptor Jan De Swart, born in Ginneken, a suburb of Breda, and lived in the area until he emigrated to The United States in 1929
Breda is the city where the Dutch composers Daan Manneke and Kristoffer Zegers live.
The Dutch football international Pierre van Hooijdonk played in Breda. Other formerly international Dutch football players from NAC Breda were Antoon (Rat) Verlegh, Kees Rijvers, Kees Kuijs, Leo Canjels, Daan Schrijvers, Frans Bouwmeester, Nico Rijnders, Ad Brouwers, Bertus Quaars, Martin Vreysen and Ton Lokhoff.
Ramon Dekkers, Muay Thai and Kickboxing World Champion, was born and died in Breda
Guido Weijers, famous Dutch stand-Up comedian
Breda has two railway stations, Breda and Breda-Prinsenbeek, providing connections with Zuid-Holland (Dordrecht – Rotterdam – Den Haag) and Tilburg – Eindhoven, and from station Breda also to Roosendaal with connection to Vlissingen and Antwerp. In addition, trains also head north from Breda to Amsterdam and east to Den Bosch – Nijmegen.
The A16 is a motorway to the north to Rotterdam and towards the south to the Belgian border to Antwerp. The A27 is also a motorway to the north; It connects Breda with Utrecht. Furthermore, The A58 connects Breda with Tilburg and Eindhoven.
Buses are operated by Arriva. There are four kinds of buses in Breda: citybuses, regional, Volans and long-distance. Citybuses drive only within Breda (sub-12 numbers), regional buses provide connections to nearby towns and cities, Volans buses are more luxurious buses driving to Etten-Leur and Oosterhout (31x and 32x-buses), and long-distance 'Brabantliners' connecting both Gorinchem and Utrecht with Breda (401, 402). There is also one Zealandish busline (19) which connects Breda with Hulst and Antwerp, operated by Connexxion.
Breda is twinned with: Wrocław in Poland
Diest in Belgium
Orange in France
Dillenburg in Germany