The largest castle in the Netherlands , situated close to Utrecht, is one of the most luxurious castles in Europe, home of many art objects and fascinating towers, suspension bridges and amazing gardens.
The first records of the castle date back to 1391, when it was owned by De Haar family. Later on, the castle was passed to the Van Zuylen family, in 1440.
The castle had a rough life, and was burned down and destroyed almost completely, only to be rebuilt in the 1500’s. The last major work done to this fascinating construction was done in 1887 though, restoration which lasted for 20 years, in which the interior and last ruins were brought back to life, by Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt and his wife.
With 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, the castle is quite an impressive construction. However, a very small part of it is open to the public. Even so, the beauty of the few rooms available to tourists, makes it all worth it!
The tour starts with the beautiful kitchen, still in very good condition, with all he original kitchen gear on display. To my surprise, all the pots were made out of copper, as a symbol of status and power, regardless of how difficult this would make the cooking and cleaning process.
In a room with an enormous cooking surface, the temperature would be around 40 degrees, all year around, and the stove would always be on, because of the difficult process of restarting the fire. Passion for cooking at a whole new level!
The rooms are decorated with ornamented woodcarvings and finished with old porcelain from Asia, and very old tapestries and paintings. The atmosphere takes you right back to the beautiful times, in which the castle was at its moment of glory.
Gardens – The Christmas Market Central
You can’t have a castle without beautiful gardens. Kasteel de Haar is no exception from the rule, so the building is situated inside a miniature park, inspired by the French gardens of Versailles.
During the World War II, many of the gardens were lost as the trees were cut and the wood was use for fires, while the grounds were used to grow vegetables upon. At this time, the gardens are restored in their original design.
Even if the Netherlands is not big on Christmas Markets, one of the most beautiful markets are found right in the heart of De Haar gardens. From carolers, to Santa, to beautiful Christmas lights and traditional products, the market sure knows how to get you in the spirit of the winter holidays.
The castle and its gardens are definitely worth seeing. If you add a Christmas market on top of this, Kasteel de Haar is a place you don’t want to miss!