June 16, 2010

Gregorius Halman, Olt Stoutenburght/"Olt Stoutenburght" Castle

picture (dec 2009) courtesy of Jetske van Beek,
from her weblog "Schrijven met licht"

Gregorius Halman (1948) lives in the countryside near the small community of Blesdijke, southern Friesland, Netherlands. As an annex to his house, he is building a castle ¹.

 He got the idea to do this around 1990, and it took him two years to convince the local authorities that he formally should be permitted to realise his idea.

And a wonderful idea it was. Halman is the owner of company in the city of Zwolle, that lends theater costumes, and he has no education in architecture or constructing at all

But he had that dream......making some nice creative construct in roman style, with round and fluent forms, quite different from nowadays functionalist shoeboxes. Often, at lunch time, he went to the public library to study books about roman architecture.

 He got the permission to build the castle, on condition that the towers would not be higher than 27 meters.  In 1992, when he was in his mid-forties, he began his lifetime project.

The concept of the building is in principle: a square with on the four corners circular towers. There is an underground basement, with cellars, and in 2010 the construction above ground was advanced to the second floor.

this picture and the next one (2019) courtesy of Serflac 

In interviews Halman explains that his activity has nothing to do with an obsession, he just has a lot of pleasure in creating some building with beautiful forms in a roman style.

As his material he used old bricks from demolished houses and roads. He didn't care about architectural, historical or military compatibility of the castle. His castle isn't a copy of an existing one, but a product of imagination.

Actual situation 

Meanwhile the building has reached its maximum height and one can say the castle as such is ready, but Halman is still working on its further completion, adding various decorative elements, both to the exterior and the interior.

* Article on SPACES website (2012)
YouTube had a 3.25' video (2007) made by Martin Vlaanderen, which is not available on the internet anymore.  In this video Halman explained the ideas behind what he is doing. Outsider Environments Texts has a transcript into english of this conversation.
* A video by Jan Menger (16'45", YouTube, uploaded april 2011) shows a variety of details of the construction, both of the interior and the exterior

* Another video, this one by RTV Drenthe (7'46". You Tube, uploaded april 2012)

¹ The name of the castle is "Olt Stoutenburght". Olt means old, stout in former days dutch is brave, in nowadays dutch it is naughty, and burght means citadel.
In the Middle Ages a -currently almost disappeared- castle named Toutenburg existed in the area around Vollenhove, some 30 kms south-west of Blesdijke.

first published june 2010, last updated july 2019

Gregorius Halman
Olt Stoutenburght
Markeweg 37
Blesdijke, Netherlands
visits only on appointment


  1. Thank you very much for drawing my attention to all of these fantastic places!

  2. Hi Shayna, I am glad you like the blog. These wonderful places deserve to be known better, and that's what I am aiming at. All the best.

  3. For god sake!! a castle of his own. that is what call to make the difference. Some people conforms with writing a few lines, making some strokes on canvas, but this goes beyond. I really laughed when i read about "shoebox architecture" i embrace the idea, but let´s the fans of modern architecture not to hear us or they will burn us in a bonfire. Roman architecture, wondering if it refers to that lovely architecture that preceded the Gothic style, with its simple yet wonderful shapes and masterpieces in mason work by anonymus masters, in the time when artists were considered nothing but simple handcrafters.
    Nice that you had a look to the Netherlands, i am sure it would have lots of extraordinary places like that, specially when far from the regular touristic schedules.
    Regards dear friend.

  4. @Alberto Oliver
    Sure, roman style exactly refers to what you are describing as the architecure that preceded the Gothic style. I remember to have visited in the Bourgogne area in France some small churches, being wonderful examples of roman style. Mr Halman's construct is hardly known about in the Netherlands, probably he himself is the last one to care about this...
    All the best.

  5. Great to have a dream and to be able to turn it into reality.

    I'd love to build a castle, with plenty of secret passageways and underground caverns and tunnels, lots of wall space for putting up photos or other art... not sure my budget will ever allow me to accomplish that dream, but in meanwhile, will continue making photos, such as they are.

    Just completed a post in your honor about the church in Wirwignes... and thanks again for providing the inspiration to go visit some of these places !