Top 7 castles in the Netherlands
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 7 best castles in the Netherlands
Here’s IamExpat’s list of the seven castles and palaces in the Netherlands that are definitely worth a visit.
1. 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.
2. Kasteel Twickel
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, 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.
If you're not too fussed about exploring the interiors, you can still enjoy the beautiful gardens all year round! The castle gardens were landscaped for the first time in the mid-17th 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.
3. Kasteel Groeneveld
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 xylotheques (a collection of wood from different kinds of trees) to be found in the Netherlands. The castle also hosts a number of fairs and festivals 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 your pet dog is sure to love it too!).
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, but 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 13th 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.
5. Duivenvoorde Castle, Voorschoten
First mentioned in 1226, Duivenvoorde Castle is one of the oldest castles in the Netherlands. Located in the town of Voorschoten in South Holland, it has interestingly never been sold, but passed down through inheritance. Today, it is inhabited by Ludolphine Emillie van Haersma Burma and Baroness Schimmelpenninck van der Oye.
Certain wings of the castle are open to the public during the museum season of April to October, allowing visitors to marvel at the gloriously-preserved architecture and art. The grounds are also home to some English Gardens and other attractions, perfect for walking and picnicking.
6. Huis Bergh, ‘s-Heerenberg
If you want a classic fairytale castle with a moat, look no further than the Huis Bergh in ‘s-Heerenberg, a Dutch town close to the German border. This castle is one of the biggest castles in the Netherlands, and has some of the best collections of art and relics from the late medieval period, as well as Italian paintings and texts.
Huis Bergh is imbued with a unique sense of mystery as so much is unknown about the castle’s early history. It is believed that there was a structure on this site as far back as the 12th century, before it became a key defensive site during the turbulent Eighty Years’ War. Nowadays, the castle makes for a fun day out, and also hosts events and weddings.
7. Valkenburg Castle, Valkenburg aan de Geul
Valkenburg Castle is unusual because it is the only castle in the Netherlands that is built on a hill. Unfortunately, all that remains of the castle today are some ruins - but they are pretty spectacular and give an idea of what the castle would have looked like in its heyday in the 14th century.
The castle is a great way to explore through the life of the Middle Ages through the Great Hall, defensive towers, dungeons, old chapels, artillery rooms, and even escape passages to the Velvet Cave.
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!