Back in early spring of last year, D and I took a trip through various parts of Belgium and the Netherlands with another couple. We did a handful of beer tours/tastings (more on those to come), wandered around some gorgeous Dutch towns (Utrecht & Tilburg, to be exact), and experienced one of Europe's best-kept castles…Castle De Haar. If you've ever Google searched fairytale castles in Europe, you'll likely come across and aerial view of Castle De Haar, the Netherlands largest and most famous castle. It's…in one word…marvelous. Aside from the outside of Germany's famed Neuschwanstein Castle, I'd say it's the 2nd most impressive castle I've seen through all my European travels.
The castle itself was entirely restored and partially rebuilt in the 19th century, but historical records of a building at this location date all the way back to 1391. Castle De Haar is special because it's one of the only few castle across Europe with the same paramount image of a medieval fortress--towers, canals, ramparts, and drawbridges, just to name a few charming qualities. It's literally the exact image I had in my head of what a true castle would look like, if I were living a few centuries back in time. There were even swans swimming in the ponds. Total fairytale castle if I ever saw one.
The only way to see the inside of the castle is to purchase a guided tour, but we were short on time and, honestly, with as many castle interiors we'd seen over the years, we were fine skipping the tour. The real star of the show is always the castle façade, for me at least. I would also recommend wandering around the gardens surrounding the castle. The smell of blooming flowers was unbelievably strong and made our walk even more pleasant.
If you ever find yourself with an hour to spare around Utrecht, don't hesitate to hunt down this beautiful reminder of Netherlands history!
Castle De Haar- Kasteellaan 1, 3455 RR Haarzuilens
Castle open daily 11am-5pm (guided tour required for entry)
Guided Tour: €14
Entrance to park/gardens: €4
Parking fee: €4
Tours start on the hour with 2 English tours daily.
English audio tours available as well.