The small Dutch town of Leerdam grew over the centuries and earned the right to be called a city in 1407. Situated on the meeting points of the Rivers Leede and Linge, Leerdam was ruled by local Counts of Leerdam (the “Vijfheerenlanden”) but the region achieved official “County” status in 1498.
The beginnings of the city are thought to have been formed around the 11th or 12th century along with a castle owned by the Lords of Arkel.
The castle incorporated part of the city walls into it’s structure but was separated from the town by a moat.
William of Orange inherited the County of Leerdam in 1557 and he also became the new owner of the castle as part of his inheritance.
in 1574 the town and the castle were besieged by Spanish forces during the “80 Years War” and was destroyed, along with vast sections of the city walls.
Sections of the former castle walls were used to rebuild new city walls but the remaining sections of the castle became a ruin, until in 1770 a “hofje” (almshouse) for poor young women and widows was built atop of the castle foundations.
The hofje is called ‘Hofje van Aerden’ and is now a museum. During restoration in the 1970′s, original castle wall fragments dating back to 1300 were discovered at the site.
Larger sections of the city walls have been restored over the centuries and three tower houses were built on the foundations of earlier wall towers in 1738.
One theory for their shape is: the bases of the tower houses are round because a round foundation is a stronger defensive structure than a square one, but I secretly wonder if they weren’t just getting heartily sick of the idea of piling and re-piling up stones at some point and thought, ” let’s see if we can get this square house to sit on the round foundation that’s already there, then we won’t need all the hard work of taking the old stones away, just to rebuild them straight away in a different shape!“
Either way, I’m guessing there aren’t too many houses in the world that sport a square house on a round foundation?
Just proves you CAN get a square peg into a round hole if you try hard enough.