Not far from the daily bustle of Utrecht, and just a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam, lies the largest and stateliest castle in The Netherlands. With its towers and turrets, moats and drawbridges, De Haar Castle (Kasteel de Haar) has the look of a true medieval castle with a presence that’s quite unique. The castle itself dates to the 19th century (a.k.a. quite ‘modern’ for Europe), but was designed and constructed to be identical to the medieval ruins it’s built upon. The castle, which was built on the foundation of a medieval castle, was owned by the Van Zuylen and Rothschild families. The architect who designed the castle also designed the Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. One of the things that gives the castle its authentic medieval feel is the fact that everything was handmade in the techniques used in medieval times (even the silverware). There is a 135-acre park and gardens surrounding the castle that are well worth a visit in their own right.
The castle can be visited at all seasons, with or without a guided tour. There are also audio tours in English available for purchase. Guided tours start on the top of every hour, with the last tour beginning at 4:00 p.m. Group tours in English (for a minimum of 20 people) are also available, and must be booked in advance. Before and after visiting the castle, you can stroll around in the park and gardens, or have a drink and a bite to eat in one of the castle’s restaurants.