The Big Church, also called the ‘Onze Lieve Vrouwe church’, has always been the most important church in Breda. The renovation of the church the way it is now started in 1410. The predecessor of the current church was mentioned as early as 1269. The oldest burials on site date back to the first half of the twelfth century. It’s possible that a church was already there back then.
Count Engelbrecht van Nassau had his first son in 1410. To honor him, Jan van Nassau, he commissioned the building of a new church to replace the old one. That was the start of the current Big Church. The new church was finished during the first half of the sixteenth century. During this time, many important events happened there, like the funerals of members of the Nassau family. The Big Church was the official burial place of the Nassau family during the Eighty Years’ War and the first Oranje-Nassau, René van Châlon, was buried here as well. Willem van Oranje had to flee Breda because of the Spanish occupation and the New Church in Delft eventually became the new burial place of the Oranje-Nassau family.
The church holds an impressive collection of burial monuments belonging to the Nassau family and other noblemen who worked for the royal family.
Count Hendrik III van Nassau held a prominent positions at the Burgundian Court. During his travels with emperor Charles V, he learned about the Renaissance architecture. It’s for this reason that the mostly gothic church is filled with details reminiscent of the Renaissance. On the east side, for example, on the outside of the choir, angels and other typical decorative motives like plants can be seen amidst the gothic shapes. This makes the church one of the earliest examples of Renaissance architecture outside of Italy.
One of the highlights is the princes Chapel. Count Hendrik III van Nassau had the artist-architect Tommaso Vincidor da Bologna design and decorate this chapel for his ancestors. Tomasso Vincidor was a student of the famous Italian painter Raphael.