Did you know that the Netherlands was founded in Delft? In the 16th century, in 1572 to be exact, William of Orange, the ‘Father of the Nation’, came to Delft to lead the rebellion against the Spanish invaders. After he had defeated the Spanish, he founded the Netherlands as a parliamentary state based on the principles of freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
William of Oranje
The palace where he lived and worked is now the Museum Prinsenhof Delft. In 1584, he was gunned down by Balthasar Gerards in the stairway of his palace. The bullet holes in the wall can still be seen in the museum even today. The king died almost immediately on the spot and Balthasar Gerards was arrested and sentenced to death.
Ever since that assassination, the Royal House has always had close links with Delft. Not only William of Orange, but many other members of the Royal House have been laid to rest in the Royal Crypt of the New Church.
Museum Prinsenhof Delft
This museum was the scene of one of the most important events in Dutch history: the assassination of William of Orange. Learn all about the famous forefather of King Willem-Alexander. Who was this man who was so passionate about his country? What inspired him? And what relevance does he have for the Netherlands today? Don't forget to visit the ‘crime scene’: the infamous staircase with the bullet holes in the wall. You will find more information about what the museum has to offer here
In the Royal Crypt of the New Church you will find ornate tomb of William of Orange. Many other members of the Royal House of Orange-Nassau, both past and present, have also been laid to rest in the Royal Crypt. Prince Claus, Queen Juliana, and Prince Bernhard were buried here in 2002 and 2004 respectively.
De Diamanten Ring
Today, the Diamanten Ring is a bakery where you can buy delicious bread rolls (a taste you won't forget!), but originally De Diamanten Ring was an inn. On that fateful morning of 10 July in 1584, Balthasar Gerards left the inn with two loaded pistols on his way to assassinate William of Orange. You can see the window on the first floor above the shop of the room where Balthasar Gerards stayed the night before.
Mediaeval Prison 'Het Steen'
If you committed a crime in Delft back in the Middle Ages, then you would probably be locked up in this mediaeval prison. And you would be lucky to get out alive. Back in those days, namely, the prisoners were often beaten and tortured. The man who assassinated William of Orange – Balthasar Gerards – was also imprisoned here. ‘Het Steen’ prison is still open to the public during the school holidays. You can find more information about this from the VVV Delft.
The late Prince Johan Friso married his sweetheart Mabel Wisse Smit in the Old Church in 2004. Prince Johan Priso tragically died in 2013 after a skiing accident in Lech in Austria. The Prince is one of the few members of the Royal House of Orange who has not been buried in Delft. On 23 November 2013, a memorial service was held in his honour at the Old Church.
See www.oudeennieuwekerkdelft.nl for more information about the Old Church.