We always seem to think that the best places to visit are somewhere far away and not in our own home country. However, it can be very surprising and rewarding to visit some sights closer to home (and I just love castles). Therefore, one week ago my boyfriend and I got on a train to Utrecht, hopped on a bus and visited Castle de Haar. This castle is one of the most gorgeous castles in the Netherlands. The other people waiting for the bus to the castle were an American couple and three Spanish-speaking people (not sure where they were from), so I immediately had the feeling of a holiday and felt very excited.
An earlier version of Castle de Haar was probably built in the 13th century. In the 15th century the castle was destroyed. They built the castle up again, roughly with the same plan as we can see today. In the 19th century, baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt inherited the castle. At that time, the castle was completely in ruins. When the baron married a rich heiress, he started an extensive restoration project. This project has resulted in the beautiful castle we can still admire today.
Interior of Castle de Haar
You can either choose to visit the park or the park and the castle. We decided to visit both the park and the castle, and went inside the castle first. There was no guided tour that day, but in each room there was an (English-speaking) guide who was very friendly and could tell us everything about that specific room. Very impressive was the Main Hall. The lightning inside the castle was terrible for taking pictures (or I need a new iPhone, or both..), but you get a sense of the grandeur from the photo below.
Many other rooms of the castle can be visited, such as the kitchens, the library and the sleeping quarters. In the ballroom, you can admire some beautiful tapestries.
The exterior of the castle and the gardens
Nevertheless, I think the exterior of the castle is even more impressive than the interior. Even though heavily rebuilt in the 19th century, all was done in neo-Gothic style. This really gives you the sense that you are in a historical fiction novel set in the middle ages.
The gardens surrounding the castle were designed during the large restoration of the castle as well. They are definitely worth visiting. Sadly, there were no flowers this time (I think they were going to replant the gardens or something?). We didn’t have other plans for the day, so we visited a large part of the park. We saw some deers and also had some great views of the castle. Also, the weather was great so we enjoyed the sun!
I really enjoyed Castle de Haar! Next up on my bucket list of Dutch castles is Muiden Castle (het Muiderslot in Dutch). Have you ever been to a castle in the Netherlands?
Castle de Haar is 35-40 minutes from Utrecht Central Station by public transport. You can easily plan your journey by using the 9292 website or the 9292 app.