Posted in Culture/History, Personal, Photo

Roots That Bind

Describe the town where you grew up.

Eight horses couldn’t keep me away from my hometown every now and then. Well perhaps they could, since I love horses, but it is the place where my parents live, our family. And our old neighbors. My sister lives close by with her family. So I’d rather take the horses along with me for a visit to my parents’ house, a one-and-a-half hour drive down south.

Welcome to our town of


It is situated in the southeast of Limburg, a province in the southeast of the Netherlands. You could say we are double southeasterners, all twenty thousand of us!

In medieval times, the town was known under the name of Gebrook, meaning ‘Swampy Landscape’, and belonged to the Family Hoen. Their family name eventually mingled with the original one, resulting in the name Hoensbroeck for the location and Van Hoensbroeck as the family name.

The dialect that the people of Hoensbroek speak, Gebrooker Plat, refers to the ancient name of Gebrook.

Over the centuries we’ve been in the hands of the province of Brabant (1288), in the claws of Spain (1661) and even of Austria(1713)! Go home, stay home and leave us in peace evil usurpers! 😉  And in 1982 it happened again: Heerlen took over, a neighboring town that separated from us in 1388.

Back then, Hoensbroeck was GIVEN to sir Herman Hoen. But we’ve forgiven him, for he built our famous castle: Kasteel Hoensbroek of Gebrookhoes. Sir Herman Hoen was the first resident of this castle.

Castle front

Castle back

Bird’s view

It is one of the biggest castles of Holland with sixty seven halls, chambers and spaces. There’s even a dungeon deep down, where you can still feel the claw marks of the prisoners, reaching for the distant light of the open window in the meters thick walls. Eerie!

Nowadays the castle is a museum which has many visitors. In summer there is a sand sculpture competition and even medieval contests are held with real knights!

Hoensbroek was a modest town until the early 20th century, when several mines were opened – including the Staatsmijn Emma. This caused a substantial increase in population.

The Staatsmijn Emma was a Dutch coal mine located in Treebeek and Hoensbroek. The mine was in operation from 1911 till 1973. This second largest mine of the Netherlands had the highest production of all Dutch mines. The deepest shaft was 980 meters (3,220 ft) deep, although after integration with Staatsmijn Hendrik the deepest shaft was 1,858 meters (6,096 ft) deep.

Photo: Limburgse Mijnen

Members of my family worked in that mine. It was hell, my father told me. He visited many former mine workers, and all suffered from lung diseases. Horrible.

Emma was demolished in 1983:


So now you know why I go back. My brother, sister and me spent truly happy childhood years in this town. My roots still bind me, love and memories entwined.

There are many more things to tell but it is 8 AM and if I don’t stop now, I’m going to be VERY late for work and will be fired! 😉

Happy weekend! 😀