Perched on a hilltop overlooking the town of Valkenburg aan de Geul, the Valkenburg Castle and the underground caves are a fantastic place to immerse yourself in Dutch history. Climb up the hill to enjoy the splendid view over Valkenburg.
The original castle building dates back to 1115. It was ruined by the siege of Henry V in 1122 and was rebuilt in the 14th century. Unfortunately the castle was again destroyed in 1672 by King Willem III, rather than let it be taken and fortified by the French invaders. Visit the Valkenburg Castle today, now a rambling ruin, full of nooks and crannies to be explored.
Families traveling with children will enjoy the chance to dress up as knights and princesses. On special days and school holidays, watch the twice daily Birds of Prey shows, where you’ll learn about the art of falconry and see falcons, buzzards, hawks and eagles in action.
Explore the labyrinth of marlstone caves beneath the Valkenburg ruins, but take an extra coat; the marlstone insulates the caves from the summer sun. Known as the Velvet Caves, the tunnels were mined to build the castle but were also put to secret use during times of siege to bring supplies into and out from the castle. Find wall paintings, sculptures and historic graffiti throughout the caves. The castle’s best secret is the underground 18th-century chapel, complete with candelabras and devotional paintings. If you’re visiting in November and December, don’t miss the Christmas market held inside the caves.
Below the castle is a restaurant where you can rest and enjoy the view over Valkenburg and the castle lit up from below at dusk.
There are separate entrance fees for Valkenburg Castle and caves. Purchase a combined ticket for a reduced price. Pick up one of the free guidebooks in English to get a sense of the history of this place. The castle is open daily most of the year from mid-morning until close of the business day, with extended hours on weekends. Although the Velvet Caves are accessible to wheelchairs, the ruins themselves are not.