The St. Nicolas Chapel Nimwegen

St. Nicholas Chapel. Photo. Eric Brouwer.

The ancient Batavian settlement near the Dutch city of Nijmegen (Nimwegen) was called Oppidum Batavorum by the Romans, until the Roman emperor Traian granted the right of market in 104 AD and called the city was called Ulpia Noviomagus (the new market).

The Romans built a castle (Castellum) on the hill. Frankish rulers reigned over this area after the departure of the Romans in the fifth century, first the Merovingians and then the Carolingian dynasty. Charlemagne (738-814) visited the city several times and built a royal palace (Paltz) on the hill.

This palace was destroyed by the Vikings (880) and Lotharingian knights (1047), but rebuilt by the Salic Emperor Barbarossa (1122-1190) around 1155. The ruin of the St. Martin´s Chapel is the only visible remnant of this castle nowadays.

The castle got the name Valkhof and survived six centuries and many wars, but not the decision of the States of Guelders to demolish the (neglected) castle for financial reasons in 1795.

France had occupied the Dutch provinces and (neglected) castles did not seem useful anymore, but an expensive burden. The castle was destroyed, but not the St. Nicholas Chapel, however. This chapel was built around 1030 and is the oldest building on the Valkhof Hill.

The original architecture was Romanesque, but around 1400 the chapel was partly rebuilt in Gothic style. The fresco´s on the ceiling were painted in 1570 when Anna of Austria (1549-1580), wife of Philips II of Spain (1527-1598), visited the city and the chapel.

The chapel also survived the Reformation of 1578 and even the Second World War when the city became a target of an erroneous allied bombardment in February 1944 and a frontal town in September 1944.

The splendid chapel is open to the public and information is available in English, German, French and Dutch. (Source and further information: