The medieval De Haar Castle was founded in the 13th century on a bank along a tributary of the Rhine. In the 15th century, the castle passed to the Van Zuylen family through the marriage of Josina van de Haar and Dirk van Zuylen. Dive into the history of De Haar Castle.
Dutch CastlesIn the Netherlands, many beautiful castles are found. The word “castle” is derived from the Latin Castellum, which means “fortified place”. A building that is habitable as well as fortified may be named a castle. The earliest castles were made out of wood: many of them did not last because wood is highly sensitive to fire and is not very durable. Castles as we know them today originated in the Middle Ages, when brick was used.
The main purpose of a castle was to defend, which can also be traced back in its architecture. For example, castles often have high towers: the higher the tower, the more power it emits. Merlons were used on the towers to fortify them. In the Middle Ages castles offered protection to surrounding citizens, who were mostly farmers. They took shelter inside the castle walls in case of attack and in return, farmers provided food for the nobility living inside.
Not all castles found in the Netherlands actually originate from the Middle Ages. For many castles built after 1500 defense was no longer the primary purpose; they were mostly used to show power and status. Castles like these are sometimes called “imitation castles”. De Haar Castle serves as a good example: it was not until the 19th century that this castle was rebuilt in its present state, yet the neo-Gothic architecture gives it a medieval look and feel.
Many castles found in the Netherlands are beautiful and remarkable places that are still admired. Although the nobility no longer inhabits them, many of them are still in use and are open for visitors. As some of the of original elements are preserved, visiting a castle feels like travelling through time.
In the wooded area nearby the city of 's-Hertogenbosch, Heeswijk Castle is a prominent image. In the “disaster year” (Rampjaar) of 1672 Louis XIV, the Sun King from France, set foot inside Heeswijk Castle. Learn more about the illustrious history of Heeswijk Castle.
Hoensbroek Castle is one of the most beautiful, best preserved and easiest accessible castles in Europe. In the castle the knights, counts, lords and marquesses of the family Van Hoensbroeck resided, and even Dutch writer and poet Bertus Aafjes once lived inside Hoensbroek Castle. Learn more about this special place!
The Muiderslot is one of the most well know castles in the Netherlands. Famous poet and writer P.C. Hooft (1581 – 1647) was one of the residents of the castle. Several Dutch films and series were filmed a the Muiderslot. The castle was also one of the first national museums (“rijksmuseums”) in the Netherlands. Read more about this extraordinary place on our page!
Loevestein Castle became famous for the time it was used as a prison. On 22 March 1621 writer and jurist Hugo Grotius escaped from the castle by hiding inside a book chest. The castle is found in the province of Gelderland, at the location where the Meuse (Dutch: Maas) and Waal rivers converged. Discover the story of Loevestein Castle and Hugo Grotius on this page.