Castle de Haar is the first to be mentioned on this blog in the western side of Europe.
Located 15 kilometers west of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Its history begins in the 14th century, with the family De Haar receiving the castle and lands in 1391. Over the next few hundred years, the castle was destroyed once and repaired, and again fell apart. More than one time it was passed on from one family to another because no rightful heirs existed after its heirless owners died. Later on it came into the hands of a wealthier family and was reconstructed in the more splendid version that it is today. Though some accounts indicate it was intended to be as it was originally.
Unless you have an itching to see Utrecht, it’s easy enough to get to the castle from Amsterdam in a day trip. Make sure to check the tour schedules in advance and consider bringing a bag lunch unless you want to buy food at the cafe, otherwise you’ll have a bit of a trip off the castle grounds to find a bite.
I have mixed feelings about Utrecht, it has the history, but really misses most of the elements of a medieval castle. It’s a bit like Neuschwanstein, except it wasn’t built for a king, not that this was much a credit in the later’s case. It has been around for a long time, nearly as long as any other castle featured in this blog, but has a storyline closer to a grand palace than a defensive fortress.
Kill joys aside, if you’re just in it for the show, architecture, and beautiful gardens, you wont be disappointed. Between the battlements, towers, moat, draw bridge, the surrounding park, and the gardens, it is truly a beautiful castle. And the people of Netherlands take pride in it so don’t try and put it down once you arrive in the area. Just don’t expect it to have played any major role in controlling powers, or roman territory outposts etc. Also be prepared for some strange trivia during the tour as one Castle enthusiast has noted, there is more than one moment where time feels wasted and more important pieces of history are left untold.
Several other posts confirm the castle was one of the first palaces with running cold and hot water as well as electricity, all installed during the reconstruction in the 1890’s.
The main hall is listed as a location for company events that can be rented out, fitting over a hundred people, but the castle doesn’t offer hotel or other amenity services.
To see the interior you have to take a tour which costs 14.00 EUR to see only the gardens costs 3.50 EUR.
If you do plan to stay nearby, there are plenty of rooms available in Utrecht starting around 50 EUR per night for a private double room and Utrecht offers plenty of attractions as well.
Visitor Information for Castle de Haar:
Address: Kasteellaan 1
3455 RR Haarzuilens
The website lists great directions for getting there along with other details about attractions and activities to do in the park & gardens at Haarzuilens.