Docks in the city centre
Docks in the city centre
Flag of Breda
Coat of arms of Breda
Highlighted position of Breda in a municipal map of North Brabant
Location in North Brabant
Breda is located in Netherlands
Location within the Netherlands
Breda is located in Europe
Location within Europe
Coordinates: 51°35′20″N 04°46′33″E / 51.58889°N 4.77583°E / 51.58889; 4.77583
ProvinceNorth Brabant
 • BodyMunicipal council
 • MayorPaul Depla (PvdA)
 • Municipality128.68 km2 (49.68 sq mi)
 • Land125.74 km2 (48.55 sq mi)
 • Water2.94 km2 (1.14 sq mi)
Elevation3 m (10 ft)
 (Municipality, January 2021; Urban and Metro, May 2014)[4][5][6]
 • Municipality184,126
 • Density1,464/km2 (3,790/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Metro
 • Metro region [nl]
 • Brabant CMSA
Demonym(s)Bredanaar, Bredaër
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
4800–4841, 4847, 4850–4854
Area code076
Click on the map for a fullscreen view

Breda (/ˈbrdə/ BRAY-də, also UK: /ˈbrdə/ BREE-də, US: /brˈdɑː/ bray-DAH, Dutch: [breːˈdaː] ) is a city and municipality in the southern part of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Brabant. The name derived from brede Aa ('wide Aa' or 'broad Aa') and refers to the confluence of the rivers Mark and Aa.[7] Breda has 185,072 inhabitants on 13 September 2022 and is part of the Brabantse Stedenrij; it is the ninth largest city/municipality in the country, and the third largest in North Brabant after Eindhoven and Tilburg. It is equidistant between Rotterdam and Antwerp.

As a fortified city, it was of strategic military and political significance. Although a direct fiefdom of the Holy Roman Emperor, the city obtained a municipal charter; the acquisition of Breda, through marriage, by the House of Nassau ensured that Breda would be at the centre of political and social life in the Low Countries. Breda had a population of 184,126 in 2021; the metropolitan area had a population of 324,812.


For a chronological guide, see Timeline of Breda.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: Lourens & Lucassen 1997, pp. 40–41

In the 11th century, Breda was a direct fief of the Holy Roman Emperor,[7] its earliest known lord being Henry of Brunesheim (1080–1125). The city of Breda obtained a municipal charter in 1252. After that Breda had the rights to build fortifications. The city constructed brick walls and Roman-style gates.

In 1327, Adelheid of Gaveren sold Breda to Duke Johannes III of Brabant. In 1350, the fief was resold to Johannes II of Wassenaar (d. 1377). In 1403, the heiress of his line, Johanna of Polanen (1392–1445), married Engelbert I of Nassau (1370–1442; his sarcophagus is in the Grote Kerk in Breda). Through her, the city came into the possession of the House of Nassau, where it remained until 1795, passing to William I of Orange (1533–1584), stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht and leader of the Dutch revolt. Thus, the baron of Breda was also Count of Nassau in the Holy Roman Empire, Prince of Orange, and (the main) stadtholder in the Dutch Republic (from 1572 to 1650, 1672–1702, 1747–1795). Breda remained part of the barony of Breda until it was captured by French revolutionary forces in 1795.[8]

Residence city

This colorized 17th century copperplate depicts the destruction, rape, and pillage of Breda: soldiers are killing men and women and the city is burning.
Haultpenne's soldiers vent their fury upon the citizens of Breda in 1581
The Surrender of Breda, by Diego Velázquez.

The acquisition of the city by the House of Orange-Nassau marked its emergence as a residentiestad (residence city). The presence of the Orange-Nassau family attracted other nobles, who built palatial residences in the old quarters of the city. The most impressive one, built by the Italian architect Thomas Vincidor de Bologna for the first Dutch prince, was the first renaissance-style palace built north of the Alps. In the 15th century the city's physical, economic and strategic importance expanded rapidly. A great church was built in Brabantine Gothic style with an elegant 97-metre-high (318 ft) tower, called Grote Kerk (main church) or also Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (Church of Our Lady). In 1534 Henry III of Nassau-Breda rebuilt the modest medieval fortifications in impressive style.

In 1534, a fire destroyed over nine tenths of the city, close to 1300 houses, churches, and chapels, and the town hall. Only 150 houses and the main church remained. In July 1581, during the Eighty Years' War, Breda was captured in a surprise attack and siege by Spanish troops then under the command of Claudius van Barlaymont, whose sobriquet was Haultpenne. Although the city had surrendered upon the condition that it would not be plundered, the troops vented their fury upon the inhabitants. In the resulting mayhem, known as Haultpenne's Fury, over 500 citizens were killed. In March 1590, Breda fell back into the hands of the Dutch and Maurice of Nassau, when a 68 men hand-picked force, concealed under the turf of a peat-boat, had contrived to enter the city in a daring plan devised by Adriaen van Bergen, known as the ruse with the Peat Ship of Breda. Around 1610 the construction of the Spanish Gate or "Spanjaardsgat" was started as a remembrance to that successful action.[9]

After a ten-month siege in 1624–25, the city again surrendered to the Spaniards, now led by Spinola; the event was immortalized by Diego Velázquez. In the Siege of Breda of 1637 the city was recaptured by Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, after a four-month siege, and in 1648 it was finally ceded to the Dutch Republic by the Treaty of Westphalia.

In 1646, Frederick Henry founded the Orange College of Breda, modelled on Saumur, Geneva, and Oxford, intending it to train young men of good family for the army and the civil service.[10]

Stuart exiles

The exiled Stuart Charles II of England resided in Breda for a little over a month of his time in exile during the Cromwellian Commonwealth and Protectorate, thanks to the proximity of Charles's sister Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, the widow of Prince William II of Orange (died 1650).

Based mostly on suggestions by the Parliamentarian General George Monck, Charles II's Declaration of Breda (1660) announced his conditions for accepting the crown of England, which he was to regain a few months later in the year.

Later history

Polish soldiers welcomed by the residents of Breda, 1944

The Treaty of Breda was signed in the city on 31 July 1667, bringing to an end the Second Anglo-Dutch War in which the Dutch faced the same Charles II who had been their guest. Between 1746 and 1748 it was the site of the Congress of Breda, a series of talks between Britain and France aimed at bringing an end to the War of the Austrian Succession, which ultimately led to the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.

During the Second World War, the city was under German occupation for over four years. During Operation Pheasant Breda was liberated following a successful outflanking manoeuvre planned and performed by forces of 1st Polish Armoured Division of General Maczek on 28 October 1944. Each year during Liberation Day festivities, Breda is visited by a large Polish contingent and the city of Breda reserves a special portion of the festivities for the fallen Polish soldiers. A museum and a monument honoring Maczek and the Polish 1st Armoured Division stands in the city center. General Maczek and many soldiers of his division are buried in the nearby Polish military cemetery.

Breda, Polish chapel

Breda was the site of one of the first panopticon prison establishments, Koepelgevangenis. This prison housed the only German war criminals ever to be imprisoned in the Netherlands for their war crimes during the Second World War. Known as "The Breda Four [nl]", or "Vier von Breda", they were Willy Paul Franz Lages, who was released in 1966 due to serious illness, Joseph Johann Kotalla, who died in prison in 1979, and Ferdinand aus der Fünten and Franz Fischer, who were both released in 1989 and died later the same year.



The municipality of Breda is divided in 11 sectors:[12]

  1. Breda Centrum (Centre)
  2. Breda Noord ( North)
  3. Breda Noord-West (Haagse Beemden) (Northwest)
  4. Prinsenbeek
  5. Breda West (West), which includes Princenhage and the border crossing 'Hazeldonk'
  6. Breda Zuid (South), which includes the Zandberg neighborhood[13]
  7. Breda Zuid-Oost (Southeast), which includes Ginneken
  8. Ulvenhout
  9. Bavel
  10. Breda Oost (East)
  11. Teteringen


Topographic map image of the city of Breda, March 2014. Click to enlarge.


The market at Grote Markt

Historically, economic activities were mainly industrial. Breda was a center of the food- and drink industry. Companies like Hero (lemonade), Van Melle (Mentos), De Faam (liquorice) and Kwatta (chocolate) are famous throughout Western Europe.[citation needed] Breda also had a sugar factory, supplying its best-known products.

Breda formerly housed the largest brewery in the Netherlands (Oranjeboom). The multinational Interbrew took over the brewery in 1995 and then closed it in 2004. Production of the Breda brand was moved to both Bremen and Leuven until 2008, when Randalls Brewery (in Guernsey) acquired the licence.[14] Guernsey is now the only place in the world where draught Breda is brewed.[15]

However, the decline of industrial activity did not harm the city's economy. Nowadays, Breda is a service oriented economy based on business, trade and logistics. A growing number of international companies choose to establish their head office for Benelux operations and manufacturing in Breda. Examples of these companies are 3M[16] Abbott Laboratories, Alfa Laval, Amgen, Dockwise, ExxonMobil, General Electric, General Motors, Krohne Oil & Gas, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, Scania, Texaco, and Toshiba. Also, the food industry is still largely represented by companies such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, Hero Group, Perfetti Van Melle and Royal Cosun [nl]. Furthermore, the city is host to the headquarters of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Because of its central location between the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam, the city also attracts logistics companies.[citation needed] Koch Media has its Benelux office in Breda.[17]

The main shopping areas of Breda are the city centre and the southern part of Breda. Known shopping centres are De Barones and 't Sas. Major shopping streets are the Eindstraat, Ginnekenstraat [nl], Wilhelminastraat and Ginnekenweg. A market is held on the Grote Markt every Tuesday and Friday from 09:00 to 13:00. A book and antique market is held on Wednesday from 09:00 to 17:00.


Breda became since 1970 a more specific education city and student city. In 2012 there were 27,000 students registered in Middelbaar- and Hoger Onderwijs.

Secondary education consists of;

Some schools offer bilingual English/Dutch education.

Secondary schools in Breda;

Vocational education

This type of education is called ‘Middelbaar Beroepsonderwijs' (MBO).

University of Applied Sciences

This type of education is called ‘Hoger Beroepsonderwijs’ (HBO)


Main sights

Castle of Breda
Harbour of Breda
Grote Markt
Ancient port: het Spanjaardsgat
Stedelijk Museum Breda

The city center contains old buildings and portions of the singels (moats) and the harbour. Focal point is the Grote Markt, the main square with pubs and sidewalk cafes.

Park Valkenberg is a major public park, halfway between the main railway station Breda and the Grote Markt.

Major historic buildings include:


The spoken dialect is West Brabantian, which is very similar to colloquial Dutch.


As in other cities and villages in the south of the Netherlands, 40 days before Easter the citizens of Breda celebrate Carnaval. A four day chain of foolish events, silliness, nonsensical costumes and a small beer on the side. During the event the mayor of the city, symbolically turns over the keys to the city to “Prince Carnaval” and his ‘Council of 11’. Breda has 4 festive monarchs, the Prince of Breda, Princenhage, Haagse Beemden and the Baron of Ginneken. For the occasion the city is renamed to ‘Kielengat’.

Musically, the carnaval events traditionally are enlivened by wind bands called ‘Dweilorkesten' (Mop Orchestra’s). All pubs and bars participate in the event and on Sunday and Monday a large parade of floats and foolish creations slides through the streets. The events ends on the evening before Ash Wednesday (Shrove Tuesday). The exclusive TV channel 'BaronieTV' broadcasts the events throughout the 'Barony of Breda'.



Music Festivals


Breda hosts the following museums:

Other Notable Events

Harley Day

The Harley Dag was one of the biggest one-day motorcycle events of Europe, held on the third Sunday of August. The American motorcycle brands Harley Davidson and Indian were the main guests of the day. Other American brands were also welcomed to the city centre. All other brands had to park at a dedicated parking outside the city centre. At the peak over 10,000 motorcycles visited the city and attracted an audience of a 100,000 people. 2010 was the 22nd and last official edition. Due to the large number of people, the city council demanded strict security measurements for the following years. This was the moment that the volunteer organization pulled the plug and cancelled future editions of the event.

2011, No(n) Harley Dag

In 2011 not all people heard of the cancelling so around 400 motorcycles and their owners visited the city anyway. Supporters who did know about it came up with the idea of the ‘No(n)-Harley-Dag’.


Despite the official cancelling, coincidentally several of Breda’s motor tour clubs held their annual tour on the third Sunday of August and drove through the complete Breda region. The tours ended on the Church square next to the Grote Kerk in the centre, where, coincidentally, a rockband was playing.


Redhead Day (nl; Roodharigedag) is a festival that between 2007 and 2011 took place in Breda during first weekend of September. Since 2019 the festival relocated to Tilburg. The two-day festival is a gathering of people with natural red hair, but is also focused on art related to the colour red. Activities during the festival are lectures, workshops and demonstrations. The festival attracts attendance from 20 countries and was free due to sponsorship of the local government. Furthermore, some people referred to Breda as the opposite of burning man. As the festival grew bigger they needed a new spot to host the ever growing event.



Rat Verlegh Stadion

Breda's only professional football club, is NAC Breda. The club plays in the Eredivisie and their home stadion is the Rat Verlegh Stadion. The club became National Champion, once in 1921. The former Cadet football association ‘Velocitas’ of the military academy won the Holdertbeker (the predecessor of the KNVB Cup) in 1899-1900.

Besides NAC there are more amateur football clubs among others;


Breda also plays a big role in the hockey department. B.H.V. Push [nl] supplied high-level players to the national women and men teams of the Netherlands and played in the Hoofdklasse them self. A few of Push’s national team players for example are: Bram Lomans, Matthijs Brouwer, Thom van Dijck, Joep de Mol, Floris Wortelboer, Teun Beins, Cécile Vinke and Malou Pheninckx.


Breda's athletics club, A.V. Sprint [nl], is with around 2000 members, the largest club of its kind in the Netherlands. Beside the usual athletics sports at their own track, they offer, nordic walking, tai chi, bootcamp and parasports.

Other Sports

And a lot more...


Sport Events

Every year in October, the Bredase Singelloop [nl] is a major road running event on the half marathon distance with a field of national and international athletes. Similar events are held in Princenhage (10 van ’t Aogje) and Haagse Beemden (Haagse Beemden Loop) although the maximum distances are 10 kilometer.

The equestrian sports event ‘Outdoor Brabant’ started out as ‘Military Breda’ in the woods around Galder and a Four-in-hand Combined driving competition, near the village Princenhage. Later these merged and both moved to the southwest of Princenhage where the event changed into ‘Breda Hippique’. The event consists of Dressage, Eventing, Show jumping, and Combined driving. For a couple of years the event was free of charge to the public, due to sponsoring by a major bank. When the sponsorship ended a relative high fee was charged to enter the event.

Para Sports

In 2024 together Breda and Tilburg host the Special Olympics National Games. The biggest national sports event aseptically for people with a mental disability. 2500 athletes competed in 21 sports. [18]

Between August 8 and 20 - 2023 the European Para Championships were held in Breda. 1500 athletes from 45 country’s participated in the event. [19]

In 2011, the ParaGamesBreda received 3000 athletes from 40 country’s. [20]

UEFA Women's Championship 2017

In 2017 the NAC Breda Stadion was one of the hosts of the ‘Women’s European Football Championship.’ Together with Enschede, Deventer, Rotterdam, Tilburg, Doetinchem and Utrecht. The dutch women won the tournament in the De Grolsch Veste in Enschede.



Religions in Breda (2014)[21]

  No affiliation (44.9%)
  Roman Catholic (41.8%)
  Other Christian denominations (2.6%)
  Islam (3.6%)
  Hinduism (0.6%)
  Buddhism (0.5%)

In 2014, the largest religion in Breda was Christianity, comprising 50.4% of its population. The next largest faith is Islam adhered to by 3.6% of residents. Religiously unaffiliated people made up 44.9% of the population.[21]

Ethnic groups

The ethnic make-up of Breda, in 2020, was as follows:[22]

Notable residents



Breda has two railway stations, Breda and Breda-Prinsenbeek, providing ’Sprinter’ and Inter-city connections throughout the Netherlands.

Inter-city destinations from Breda to the North are Rotterdam, Den Haag and Amsterdam; east to Tilburg, Eindhoven, Den Bosch, Nijmegen and Zwolle; west to Roosendaal and Vlissingen.

The regional Sprinter-trains connect the smaller towns, Gilze en Rijen, Etten-Leur, Lage Zwaluwe and Dordrecht with Breda. The Breda-Prinsenbeek railway station is only served by Sprinter-trains.

The 'Intercity direct' uses the HSL-Zuid for a high-speed connection with the Rotterdam Centraal station, Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam Centraal station. Between Rotterdam and Schiphol there is an extra surcharge for this train. [24]

The international train from Amsterdam to Brussels-South railway station also visits Breda and connects the city with these destinations via the Schiphol–Antwerp high-speed railway. The train is operated by a corporation between NS International and the National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS). [25] [26]


There are four kinds of buses in Breda: citybuses, regional, intercity and international. City and regional buses are operated by Arriva under the alias 'Bravo' (BRAbant Vervoert Ons).

Citybuses drive only within de city of Breda;

Regional buses provide connections to nearby towns and cities;

The more luxurious intercity buses, called 'Brabantliner' connect Breda with both Gorinchem (402) and Utrecht (400 & 401). These lines are a compensation for the lack of direct train connection between the cities.

There also was a Zeelanddic busline (19) which connected Hulst (Zeelandic Flanders) and Breda via Antwerp, Belgium. The line was operated by Connexxion and in the passed by the Belgian De Lijn. After 71 years the line was canceled in 2024.

International buses are operated by several providers. From the international bus stop at the Breda railway station, multiple options are possible.

Low-cost intercity bus service FlixBus provides a regular timetable to Bercy, Seine via Antwerp or Gent -Dampoort. In addition, two routes to the Romanian capital Bucharest. Either via Antwerp - Maastricht - Aachen or via Eindhoven - Dusseldorf to Köln-Bonn Airport station - Frankfurt am Main Hbf to Passau, with the final station Autogara Militari. [27] The company also offers a tree times a week services to Brussels-North railway station from the Breda-Prinsenbeek international busstop. [28]

The BlaBlaCar bus provides an (almost) daily timetable between Breda - Utrecht - Amsterdam - Schiphol and Sloterdijk in the early morning. In addition, BlaBlaCar bus provides an international timetable to Antwerp - Brussels, Center - Brussels-South railway station - Paris, Gare de Paris Bercy with the final station at Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport. [29]

Flibco offers an airport shuttle service from Breda to Brussel, Zaventem Airport and Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport. [30]


The Interchanges 'Sint-Annabosch' (A58/A27), 'Galder' (A16/A58), 'Zonzeel' (A16/A59) and 'Hooipolder' (A27/A59) connecting them all.


The city owes its existence to the accessibility by water. As from the beginning of the city, the rivers Mark and Aa were used for trading and supplying the city. Today the city is accessible for pleasure boating from the north. There is an open connection to the Volkerak via the Mark and connection to the Wilhelmina Canal through the Mark Canal. The Dintel/Mark is accessible for cargo ships up to 86 meters (282 ft) long from Dintelsas to Breda. The 'Werve' yacht port provides a berth for passing pleasure ships just north of the city centre.


The small airport Breda International Airport is located west of the city. The airport was opened in 1949 as Seppe Airfield and is in limited use for civil aviation. The departures from the airport are mostly business trips, sightseeing trips and teaching activities.

Twin towns – sister cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in the Netherlands

Breda is twinned with:


  1. ^ "de heer P.A.C.M. van der Velden" (in Dutch). Gemeente Breda. Archived from the original on 10 April 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten 2020" [Key figures for neighbourhoods 2020]. StatLine (in Dutch). CBS. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Postcodetool for 4811DJ". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 1 January 2021. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
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  6. ^ "De grenzeloze regio". Sdu uitgevers. 2007. ISBN 9789012124577. Het BBP van BrabantStad ligt op 14.7% van het nationale BBP. In de regio liggen Philips, de Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, de Universiteit Tilburg en de HAS Den Bosch. De regio heeft 1.4 miljoen inwoners. Er is veel R&D, ICT, automotive, logistiek en agribusiness.
  7. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Breda" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ The Prince of Orange and subsequently King or Queen of the Netherlands continued to use the title; today Queen Beatrix uses the title Baron of Breda.
  9. ^ "Spanjaardsgat". Archived from the original on 22 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  10. ^ Lodewijck Huygens, The English Journal: 1651-1652, p. 13
  11. ^ CBS 2017 Bevolkingsontwikkeling regio Breda Archived 2017-08-03 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Sectors of municipality Breda
  13. ^ "Official Zandberg site". Archived from the original on 2014-10-28. Retrieved 2014-10-28.
  14. ^ "Brew coup as Breda is made in Guernsey « This Is Guernsey". Archived from the original on 2013-03-30. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  15. ^ "Breda". Randalls Brewery. 2012-11-22. Archived from the original on 2013-05-02. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  16. ^ 3M Nederland B.V. Archived 2021-06-24 at the Wayback Machine Dun & Bradstreet. Retrieved: 2021-06-20.
  17. ^ "Contact Archived 2016-09-19 at the Wayback Machine." Koch Media. Retrieved on September 13, 2016. "Benelux Koch Media Benelux Princenhagelaan 1 C4 4813 DA Breda Niederlande"
  18. ^ Special Olympics Nationale Spelen 2024 in Breda en Tilburg
  19. ^ European Para Championships, in de buurt
  20. ^ ParaGamesBreda, International Paralympic Committee
  21. ^ a b "Kerkelijkheid en kerkbezoek, 2010-2014". Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. 13 May 2015. Archived from the original on 28 June 2021. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  22. ^ "CBS Statline". Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. Archived from the original on 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  23. ^ Stephen Gaukroger. Descartes: An Intellectual Biography. Oxford University Press, 1995.
  24. ^ Intercity direct, NS website
  25. ^ IC Brussels, NS International
  26. ^ IC train Brussels - Amsterdam, NMSB International
  27. ^ FlixBus homepage
  28. ^ FlixBus Amsterdam - Brussels
  29. ^ BlablaCar, routes
  30. ^ Flibco uurregeling
  31. ^ "Brussels". European Forum for Urban Security. 21 January 2012. Archived from the original on 8 August 2021. Retrieved 2022-02-15.
  32. ^ "Wrocław Official Website – Partnership Cities of Wrocław". (in English, German, French and Polish) © 2007 Wrocław Municipality. Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2008-10-23.