Countries across Europe are filled with gorgeous and historic castles, surrounded by beautiful landscapes. But, you don’t need to travel all the way to Germany or the United Kingdom to get a glimpse of some incredible castles - there are plenty right here in the Netherlands!
The five best castles in the Netherlands
Here’s IamExpat’s list of the five castles and palaces in the Netherlands that are definitely worth a visit.
Kasteel de Haar
Without a doubt, Kasteel de Haar is probably one of the most famous and popular castles in the Netherlands. Located on the outskirts of the city of Utrecht, De Haar is the largest castle in the Netherlands.
The original castle dates back to at least the 14th century, but sadly the building was left to deteriorate and by the end of the 19th century was nothing but a ruin. Historians don’t know what the original De Haar castle looked like, but in the 1890s a 20-year construction project began to restore and rebuild the beautiful castle.
Kasteel de Haar consists of a chapel and a châtelet, as well as an English-inspired park and garden featuring bridges, water features, trees and romantic pathways.
Paleis het Loo
The only palace to make the list, Paleis het Loo definitely deserves the honour. The former royal palace on the outskirts of Apeldoorn has been transformed into a national museum and is one of the most significant monuments and museums in the Netherlands.
The palace was built in the 17th century when Stadtholder Willem III (great-grandson of William of Orange) bought the neighbouring medieval castle Het Oude Loo and its surrounding lands to build a new hunting lodge. The lodge was then extended in the 1690s to become a castle. After almost 300 years of new additions and renovations, Paleis het Loo was restored to its original 17th-century condition through a huge restoration project between 1977 and 1984.
Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed to the public, as the palace is yet again undergoing significant renovations. It is set to reopen in 2021. Until then, you can still enjoy a day out visiting the gardens and stables.
Kasteel Twickel is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands. The oldest mention of the site is in 1347, back before the house became a castle. Twickel is still privately owned and to this day remains inhabited, and so opportunities to see inside the castle are limited. Guided tours are only available for two periods a year, typically in June and then again in late August / early September.
However, if you can’t wait until then, you can enjoy the beautiful gardens all year round! The castle gardens were landscaped for the first time in the mid-seventeenth century, and they have something for everyone! On a visit to the Twickel gardens, you can enjoy the formal garden and orangery which date back to the 19th century, the vegetable garden, the “twicklerforest” (twicklerbos), the “rock garden” (Rotstuin), and much, much more.
There’s also a lovely little shop selling items produced on the castle estate (including wines, marmalades, oils, and game), or products with designs inspired by the castle and its gardens. And make sure you check out the Rapunzel-like Twickel water tower - it's magical.
Kasteel Groeneveld is an estate located in the municipality of Baarn, and is up the road from another significant Dutch royal palace - Soestdijk! Groeneveld is run by State Forestry (Staatsbosbeheer) and is run as a “city and rural country estate.”
The castle started life in the 18th century as a summer home for wealthy families from Amsterdam, but has been publicly owned since 1940. You can book guided tours to see inside the castle or visit the exhibition which is home to one of only three xylines (a collection of wood from different kinds of trees) to be found in the Netherlands. The castle also hosts a number of fairs and concerts throughout the year and makes for a beautiful wedding or event location.
But, perhaps even more impressive than Groeneveld itself, is Groeneveld’s park. The estate covers more than 130 hectares of land, featuring a formal garden with an amalgamated English-French-Dutch style, an orangery, a coach house, a vegetable garden, and an ice house dating back to the 1800s. The castle grounds are open to the public and admission is free, so it makes for the perfect spot for a leisurely walk (and the family dog will love it too!).
Source: Alexander van de Vijver
Muiderslot, also known as Muiden Castle, is a medieval castle in the historical Dutch city of Muiden. Built in 1285, Muiderslot is one of the oldest castles in the Netherlands! Looking like it has been picked straight out of a fairytale, Muiderslot is surrounded by a square moat and beautiful vegetable and herb gardens, and a plum orchard.
The history of the castle is still not 100 percent clear, however it is generally believed that the original Muiderslot was demolished in 1296 after the murder of the first owner, Floris V, and rebuilt on the existing foundations almost one hundred years later in the late thirteenth century.
Muiderslot has been the home to a national museum since the 1870s after it was restored by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers (famous for the Rijksmuseum and Central Station in Amsterdam). On a visit to the museum today, you will be met with armour, weapons, furniture, paintings and statues from throughout the history of the castles, or watch a flight demonstration by the castle’s in-house falconer.
A royal day out
Which of these beautiful castles pique your interest? Which castles in the Netherlands do you enjoy visiting? Let us know in the comments below!