Kasteel de haar, netherlands – photos, history and trip report – exploring castles

The foundations of Kasteel de Haar were laid back in Medieval times, but pretty much everything you’ll see today is a c19th rebuild of what architects thought a Medieval castle should look like.

Nonetheless, it’s an impressive place and a pleasant day out. Amsterdams museum It’s located in the (exceedingly flat!) countryside just outside of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

I visited it in 2014. Amsterdam rose Here are my photos from the trip, alongside the history of this beautiful castle.


Amsterdam 7 day forecast The beautiful shape of Kasteel de Haar. Amsterdams vloerencentrum Shaped Like a Pentagon: The Early Castle

This castle was almost entirely destroyed some 100 years later, in 1482, as retribution for an argument with the Bishop of Utrecht. Amsterdam flights and hotel By that time, the castle had passed to another family: the van Zuylens. Amsterdams verrekenbeding The moat accentuates the height and symmetry of the castle.

During the 1500s, the castle was re-built in the shape of a lop-sided pentagon. Amsterdam bar and hall Two huge towers crowned two of the five points of the pentagon: a rare image, from 1550, gives us some clue how the castle might then have looked.

From the late 1500s onwards, the castle fell into severe disrepair. Amsterdam keukenhof It only came to the attention of a very wealthy couple in the late 1800s. Amsterdam ny zip code A Pet Project: To Build a Medieval Castle

In the late 1800s, the ruined castle passed to Baron Etienne van Zuylen and his wife: Hélène de Rothschild. Amsterdam netherlands weather Hélène came from the fabulously wealthy de Rothschild banking family.

Baron Etienne was fascinated by his ruined castle, and wished to strengthen his ties to his ancestors, who had owned the site for hundreds of years.

Pierre was an extremely talented architect: one of the most famous in the whole of Holland (he’s also responsible for the glorious Central Station in Amsterdam, and also the city’s Rijksmuseum).

Pierre drew on the latest Neo-Gothic styles for inspiration, and designed a pentagonal structure that remained true to the floorplan of the original fortress. Amsterdam guster Many of the external walls you see today are built on the foundations of the old castle. Amsterdam zuid wt The polygonal shape of the modern castle is based upon the plan of the old Medieval castle.

For practicality, Pierre altered some elements of the original design. Amsterdam lonely planet Originally, the castle used to have a great courtyard: Pierre turned this into a grand, undercover hall.

However, great chunks of the original castle remained a mystery. Amsterdam 2 days For these, Pierre used his imagination. Amsterdam hospitality The tall, pointy towers; elegant flying buttresses; arched stained glass windows and pleasantly sloping roof-lines are the work of his expert eye.

Work began on building the new castle from 1892. Amsterdams prostitutes It took about twenty years in total. Amsterdam or paris An impressive gatehouse, leading to the private quarters of the castle (now off-limits to visitors). Amsterdam images Let’s Demolish a Village!

Well, Baron Etienne certainly didn’t want so many poor people to be so close to his majestic new home. Amsterdam 3d printed bridge So – rather unbelievably – he ordered the village to be razed to the ground. Amsterdam ohio One of the towers of the castle.

He decreed that only the old church should survive (you’ll see it in the grounds today). Amsterdam drink Obviously, he probably spared the church out of some degree of piety – but apparently it also looked the part, as it was architecturally similar to his new home.

In its place, the Baron was left with, well, some rather barren land. Amsterdam tavern As money was evidently of no object to to him, he simply imported around 6-7,000 mature trees from all over the Netherlands, and planted them around the new castle. Amsterdam history Touring the Decadent Interior

To see the innards of the castle, you have to follow a guided tour. Amsterdam airport Although there are around 200 rooms, you can see only a handful of the most impressive. Amsterdam deli The grandiose entrance to the castle.

I find guided tours a bit claustrophobic at the best of times. Amsterdam mo Unfortunately, this guided tour also chooses to focus on some rather strange things.

Although the castle is filled with an eclectic collection Medieval relics and old antiques, the tour focuses on snooze-worthy stories of minor members of the gentry who once stayed in the castle.

As an example, in the ballroom, you’ll see two incredible c15th tapestries of the resurrection of Christ. Amsterdam june weather These were both probably the life’s work of some weaver, and they’d be the pride of any museum. Amsterdam in spanish An entire village was demolished to make way for this impressive, mock-Medieval fortress.

However, for some reason, the English language tour glides past these beautiful relics. Amsterdam walmart Instead, it focuses on telling a trashy, boring story of two members of the Dutch gentry who once danced here about sixty years ago. Amsterdam liquor It’s very strange.

Nonetheless, there’s lots inside the castle to hold your interest. Amsterdam museums When it was built, the castle was one of the very first mansions to boast hot and cold running water.

It was also one of the very first places to be hooked up to mains electricity. Amsterdam klm This unexpectedly explains why there are no light-shades. Amsterdam weather in april Because electricity was so fashionable, the Baron wanted to show-off the bare bulbs to prove his cutting-edge credentials! A moment of blue sky during my visit! The brightly coloured shutters provide a beautiful contrast to the brickwork. Amsterdam lyrics Exploring the Castle Today

The castle is situated just outside of Utrecht. Amsterdam hilton I came on a daytrip from Amsterdam, taking an Intercity train to Vleuten: from there, it’s an easy twenty minute walk along flat ground (the castle is sign posted once you’re in the outskirts of the town). Amsterdam neighborhoods The flat, green pathway to the castle, from the suburb of Vleuten.

You can enter the impressive gardens at anytime, but to see the interior of the castle, you have to take an aforementioned timed, guided tour. Amsterdams verzetsmuseum At weekends, there are a couple of tours a day in English: at the other times, you’ll follow a Dutch tour and be given a personal audio-guide.

All in all, Kasteel de Haar is an interesting piece of architecture – and worth a visit. Amsterdamse 9 straatjes It’s a similar in its grandiose ambition to Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany (although the setting’s not nearly as impressive).

It’s also interesting to glimpse the aristocracy of Holland – a country which you don’t typically associate with such a stratified class system.