February 03, 2011

Jan Schoonbroodt, Droomkasteel/Castle of dreams

Around 1970, Collection Rijckheyt
center for regional history

Opened in 1966, the Castle of Dreams in Heerlerheide in the south of the Netherlands, for some forty years was a small scale amusement park where children and their parents could spend some pleasant hours. In terms of this blog it is an art environment.

Life and works

In 1954 Jan Schoonbroodt (19??-December 18, 2011) started a business in selling garden ornaments and garden sculptures, located in and around his house in the community of Heerlerheide.

this picture and the next two (around 2006) from the 
website that announced the sale of the site 
(website not available anymore)

It happened to be a rather large garden and Schoonbroodt thought that the items he was selling, should be surrounded by some nice, decorative creations. So he began embellishing the site with all kinds of creative constructions, using thousands kilo's of sand, concrete and iron, and a huge amount of natural stones.

Gradually the garden became an art environment, with an enormous elephant at the entrance, grotto's, ponds, corridors, balustrades, sculptures representing Buddha's and Maya's, all kinds of animals and a tower/castle of some twenty meters high.

In the 1960's the site became a place where families with young children liked to go for their amusement and to enjoy the fairytale atmosphere.

So from 1966 on the garden was advertised as kind of an amusement park, which could be visited after paying a small entrance fee. The site was widely publicized in touristic magazines and local tourist guides.

In 2006, at old age, Schoonbroodt decided to sell house and garden. An advertisement was published to attract potential buyers.

Schoonbroodt passed away december 18, 2011 without anyone had shown up who was interested in buying the property. His wife died October 2012.

Currently the site is closed and it's future is unclear. Early 2015 a new website announced an action to collect money for a re-start, but this action probably hasn't been successful and the website is not available anymore. 

* Article (april 2011) on weblog La société protectrice des enfants martyrs (in dutch) 
* Article on website Heerlen vertelt (Stories about Heerlen), nov 2012, in dutch
* scenes of the site as it was in the late 2010s on the Netherlands trip video by Serflac (YouTube, starts at 14.15, cannot be embedded here)
* Video on YouTube (3'02") of a dutch TV program in 1960, with Schoonbroodt announcing the sale of house and site

first published February 2011, last revised April 2020

Jan Schoonbroodt
Ganzenweide 113-115
Heerlerheide, Limburg, Netherlands
closed for the public
streetview 2017

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