Stratemakerstoren

A sixteenth century defence tower

A unique fortress tower built around 1520, with subterranean passages in which cannons were positioned to defend the town gate close by. Also interesting temporary exhibitions on historic subjects.

subterranean corridors
The corridor and the casemates were equipped with embrasures and loopholes. Photo: Nico van Hoorn

Museum De Stratemakerstoren
Waalkade 83 - 84 - 6511 XR Nijmegen
Holland
T. 0031 24/323 86 90

Tuesday-Friday 12.00 am - 5.00 pm
Saturday-Sunday 13.00 am - 5.00 pm
Visitors guidance, Guided tour: German, English

History


In the summer of 1987 a factory on the South bank of the river De Waal was demolished. To the surprise of many this factory had concealed from sight the remains of a sixteenth century defence tower, known as 'De Stratemakerstoren'. It is true that one knew of the existence of this tower: some time before the re-discovery it had already been given the status of monument and the subterranean corridors were used for different ends by the owner of the factory. However, before the demolition of the factory nobody knew exactly what the tower looked like. There are numerous paintings and drawings of the Valkhof castle which also show the tower; but the way it is represented varies from picture to picture. In short, much is still unclear and further investigation is needed.

Nevertheless it is evident, that the oldest part of the building consists of a tower from the first half of the fourteenth century. After the invention of cannons this high tower became, however, too vulnerable to gunfire. For that reason it was lowered and rebuild in a so-called 'rondeel': a fortification in the shape of a horseshoe, supplied with a subterranean corridor and two casemates. The corridor and the casemates were equipped with embrasures and loopholes. The inner yard of the tower was filled with earth in order to give the building more solidity. At present the earth has been removed and visitors now have a clear view on the limestone construction, complete with marks which served as indicators for the builders of the tower: every mark, consisting of a cipher in Roman style, stood for the size of a particular limestone.

In what year this fortification was constructed is not known, but an indication is given by the fact that in 1527 it was mentioned, for the first time as the 'roendeel bij der Veerpoirten'. In 1569 the name 'Stratemakerstoren' (=Road worker tower) appears. Why this peculiar name? It was not uncommon for members of a guild to man a defence tower in times of war and it is not unlikely that in this case the tower was manned by members of the road workers guild.

Until the end of the eighteenth century the situation at the South bank of the river De Waal remained unchanged. In 1789, however, the city council gave permission to a certain Mr. Ten Boven, carpenter, to build houses on this part of the riverbank. In order to yield space for these houses nearly two metres of the outside wall of the tower (which had an original thickness of three metres) were demolished. The remaining part of the wall functioned as the back of the newly built houses and the remains of plasterwork and chimneys are the silent witnesses of these building activities. At the end of the nineteenth century the houses were replaced by a factory. Until 1987, the 'Stratemakerstoren' remained hidden from sight behind and underneath this factory...

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