When we think of countries with great European castles, the Netherlands is usually not the first country to come to mind. However, Kasteel de Haar is impressive. It’s one of the finest castles in Europe. This lovely castle comes complete with a water-filled moat, small lakes, and landscaped gardens. It is located near Utrecht, about 30 miles from the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.
On my way from Amsterdam to Eindhoven, I had an afternoon free and decided to check out this castle.
The castle was built originally in the 1200’s and was restored in the 1890’s. When it was restored, the castle was the first building to have central heating, hot water, and electricity in the Netherlands. The castle has 200 rooms and 25 bathrooms. The old kitchen was in service until the 1970’s and has huge coal-fired stoves and ovens (the cooking surface is about 18 feet long). It must have been incredibly hot working in that kitchen in the summer (unfortunately I could not get any pictures in there).
The family Van Zuylen van Nyevelt, connected through marriage to the Rothschild European dynasty, inherited the castle in the 1800’s and lives in the castle during the month of September each year. I’d be tempted to stay year-round! It contains many 17thcentury tapestries and one from 1510 that is enormous. The decorations, artwork and furnishings are beautiful.
The grounds (135 acres) of the castle are lovely too, and at one end are a maze and reflecting pool. A whole village (Haarzuilens) was moved about 2 km away to clear and reestablish the original castle grounds. The castle has hosted many celebrities, including Roger Moore (who played James Bond in many films) and Gregory Peck (film star in the 1940’s – 1970’s).
The only way to visit the castle interior is with a tour, and these run about every 30 minutes from April to December, except when the family is living there in September. The tour is in Dutch, but English audio guides are available. The entry fee is €12.50 per person and the parking fee is €4. Visit the castle website for more information, click here: Kasteel de Haar.
A couple pictures of the town of Haarzuilens–relocated for the restoration of the castle and grounds.