Kasteel Well, The Netherlands
A restored 14th-century medieval castle is home to Emerson’s Semester Abroad Program in Well, The Netherlands.
Moats and lush gardens contribute to the magic of this setting, while courses with a European focus provide the substance of serious academic pursuit. Study is combined with extensive travel and exploration of the cultural and historical offerings of several major cities of Europe. Fall semester students and their professors will travel to Amsterdam and Berlin. During the spring semester, the group will travel to Madrid and Amsterdam. The course offerings at the castle are geared toward sophomores because the program primarily offers General Education Curriculum courses.
Emerson College’s European Center at Kasteel Well, The Netherlands
A Brief History of Kasteel Well
The castle is a Dutch National Monument and there are early drawings of the castle in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The “sweet-water” well, for which the town was named, established Well as a landmark for knights on their personal quests. In 975 A.D., the townspeople built a watchtower near this well. In 1275 A.D., Duke Geldern traveled from Germany and began to build a castle around the watchtower. He enclosed the well within the walls of the courtyard, dug moats and designed the construction of the castle. Inspired by the Crusades, the Duke envisioned the castle as a place of sanctuary, a place of inspiration, and a place of vision.
Since 1275 over 10 regal families have lived in the castle. Though much of the medieval structure remains, most of what of the castle looks like today dates from the 17th century, when the Duke of Limburg repaired and expanded the old castle. Baron Frans Peter von Schloissnig initially restored the castle to a state of prosperity, but a series of prolonged hardships over three generations forced the family to sell the castle in 1905. Dr. Richard Wolters, from Dusseldorf, purchased the castle in 1905 and lived there with his wife until 1939, when she died.
During WWII, Dr. Wolters fled back to Germany because of local resentment toward Germans. When Dr. Wolters abandoned the castle, the German Army took it over and used it initially as a command headquarters. Nazi officers lived here early in the occupation, and later in the war the castle became an observation point in anticipation of an Allied invasion. Before the liberation, the castle became a hospital for German soldiers and, reportedly, Allied bomber crews were imprisoned there until they could be taken to P.O.W. camps.
After the war, the castle became a refuge and temporary shelter for thousands of people who returned to the village of Well without a place to live. The mayor of Well stayed there after the war, where he ran the local government until more permanent buildings could be reconstructed. The Limburg Castle Society took over the Castle after the war and rented it out to many different schools who used it as a place of learning. Emerson College purchased Kasteel Well in 1988.
Abroad 101, the world’s largest study abroad review website, recently released its first annual study abroad rankings. Based on program evaluations from more than 10,000 students who ranked everything from top academics to the most budget-friendly cities, Kasteel Well clinched the highest overall satisfaction rating as well as the safest city.
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Find out what it's like to live in a 14th–century European castle—possibly one of the few opportunities you'll have to spend a significant amount of time outside of the United States.