Whilst in the Netherlands I managed to drive to the beautiful grounds of De Haar castle near Utrecht, which is not too far away from Amsterdam so this makes the place an excellent day trip away from the Dutch capital. This castle is one of the modern ones I have come across in Europe, recently built in 1892 on the site of the original castle which fell into ruins and has stood there since the 14th century.
Driving away from the city of Utrecht, the road towards the castle goes along bendy country lanes lined with trees. There was hardly a car on the road on the Sunday morning I came here. Bright sunshine to which the sun rays would hit the surface of the water in the canals next to the road and bounce towards my window screen and blind me for a few moments. How I love driving in the lowlands of Europe.
Walking through the gate into the grounds of the castle, I was sent back in time to medieval Netherlands. The walk to the castle is a pleasant one and with not many people around on my visit, it was very quiet. I could see the castle in the distance and I just wanted to get there quickly. The castle has a moat around it and the surrounding settings make this a beautiful place to visit. Call me a romantic but I even saw swans in the lake here making this a great place to visit for couples.
The castle I saw today has a Neo-Gothic design which is one of the works from the famous Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers. Not only did he design the facade but also equipped the building with all the current technology and gadgets in the late 19th century like electrical lighting and a central heating system (powered by steam). Even the kitchen was very modern and whilst checking it out, the original copper pots, pans and furnace are still on display to visitors. `
The grounds of the castle are equally impressive where there are many waterworks and woodland to explore. However most of the woodland which was originally here when the castle was rebuilt was torn down as the wood was used to light fires and the gardens were ruined because the soil was used to grow vegetables. After the war many trees were replanted and the gardens were restored to their original design.
The castle is worth a visit and isn’t too expensive to get into. It was so nice to see a different side of the Netherlands, to get away from the cities, crowds and to enjoy this beautiful setting with a beautiful castle. This is one destination worthy of a Dutch day trip away from the cities.
How to get to De Haar castle
Car: I drove here by car and the castle is located to the west of Utrecht in the village of Haarzuilens. From highway A2 (junction 6), turn right at first junction (if coming from Amsterdam) or turn left at first junction (if coming from Den Bosch), and from there, the castle is a few kilometers drive, just follow the brown signs which says ‘De Haar’. There is a car park here, however it is pay and display, €6 (2020 price) and from the car park, it is a fifteen minute walk to the castle.
Train: Take a train to Utrecht central (if coming from the North, West, South of Netherlands), and then another train towards Den Haag (The Hague). Make sure to get off at Vleuten station (there are four of these trains an hour in midweek). Then take bus 111 which stops at Kaastel de Haar (but only runs on Wednesday) and bus 127 but alight at stop De Bom.
For other information and admission prices, please check out the De Haar castle website.