Oudaen, a medieval defensive tower house
Around 1280 the construction works of the Stadskasteel Oudaen were at full swing. Lord Van Zoudenbalch, one of the members of the Utrecht city council, had commissioned the house. Only rich families were able to afford a stone house. Almost all houses, also the ones of many of the rich, were still erected with wood and loam and sheltered with a thatched roof. Until today the impressive city castle has always overlooked its neighbouring premises. There is no reason to doubt the Stadskasteel Oudaen in medieval years must have been a beacon for everyone approaching the city. The Domtower namely was still more than a century from being finally completed and finally being able to take over this function as a beacon. Although the construction works of the latter started at the same time as those of the Oudaen, it would still last until 1381 before the Domtower reached his tallest point. The church itself is only considered to be completed in the holy year 1517.
The Room of taste from Oudaen, also named the grand-café at the ground floor, once was the Hall of knights of this city castle. This impressive room only had a representative function. Although the construction of a huge fireplace, it’s virtually impossible to heat this huge, 8 meters tall hall. At the other floors of the building a fireplace wasn’t even considered. The presence of a smaller house built next to the main house is therefore perfectly explicable.
Stadskasteel Oudaen is a so-called defensive tower house, of which during the same period several ones were built along the Oudegracht. Also the defensive tower houses Lichtenberg, Drakenburg and Fresenburg were named after their owners. The Oudaen castle, probably originally named Zoudenbalch, refers to one of the following owners, Dirck van Houdaen. When the new owner Dirck van Houdaen occupied the castle the Zoudenbalchs family had already moved to a new premise in the Donkerstraat.
These wealthy families became a new social class which liked to copy the habits and lifestyle of the true nobility. Therefore also their buildings are covered with a noble atmosphere. Oudaen was also built with merlons so it seemed to be prepared for any military activities. In reality though the defensive tower houses at the very most had a defensive role during times of distress. They served more as a tangible reflection of the accumulated wealth and the increased prestige.