Tönisvorst was originally two towns, Tönis and Vorst, but what the Romans founded separately the municipality laws have combined.
It’s fine, really — after years of standing alone against the onslaughts of the world the pair seem almost relieved to be together. You see, this now-quiet hamlet near the border has been a hot bed of activity most of it’s history.
Given all that’s happened, a surprisingly large number of buildings survive and are even still being used. A former castle fortress, the Donk House dates back to the 13th century but was lived in by American Soccer Goalkeeper Kasey “The Wall” Keller from 2004 – 2007. The Brempt House in Tönisvorst dates back to the 12th Century, and the Streuff Mill is nearly 300 years old.
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But back to the action and adventure — Tönisvorst has done a lot of fighting! Check out the history museum for the tales of the Danish pirates, who liked to cruise in and burn everything they couldn’t steal just as locals got things rebuilt again. The town has a lot of neat stoneworks as a result.
Also, land fortification building was not just a hedgeman’s hobby — don’t think all the hiking hills and ruined walls were built just for holiday makers! Though all the trekking now attracts thousands, much of the trail-ground challenges were originally made to keep “visitors” out.
Naturally, all that rotten company had to get blamed on someone. Local museums also (sheepishly) mention the witches. Fed up in the 1500’s, the town fathers identified and burned several witches in their midst. Unfortunately, while the pirates turned into smugglers, the plague hit Tönisvorst hard.
Fast forwarding, that other plague, war, stopped by again in the 1940’s. The ancient Catholic church was badly damaged by bombings, but is still available for tours. Americans, then British forces occupied the town as well, but it was not without benefit.
Rock and Roll concerts really took hold, and even now there are three different music festivals annually in Tönisvorst. Amateur theater groups also perform regularly, touching on historical themes, so if you want to hear more history of the town, check a group performance out when you are in town!