castles , country seats
, royal palaces
The Netherlands have over 100 castles that can be visited. Below
we give you a small selection from the HollandTheRideWay programme.
Castles were situated at places that were strategically important
and easy to defend, for example at a river fork, a ford or along
throughroads. Castles situated on high ground are rare in the Netherlands.
There are, however, so called citadels: castles in recently conquered
areas to keep the population under control. Because the round water-castle
was difficult to defend and to live in , later castles, after 1275
were square such as the Muiderslot of 1281 or rectangular of which
Loevestein castle is a good example. Passive defence is turned into
The construction of these , bigger multiangular castles is not
only connected with the growing prosperity after the Viking invasions
but also with the crusaders in the 13-th century during which the
crusaders became acquainted with the mighty edifices of the Middle
Escape from Loevestein
Loevestein castle from which the well-known jurist Hugo de Groot
(Grotius) escaped in a book chest lies within solid walls and possesses
some magnificent rooms. An attractive nature walk round the castle,
strategically situated at the place where formerly the rivers Maas
and Waal flowed together is also among the possibilities that HollandTheRideWay
can offer you.
Holland’s Golden Age
In the 17 th century, the Muiderslot was the meeting-place of the
Muiderkring, a circle of artists among whom the well-known Dutch
poet Hooft, who as governor made the Muiderslot into the cultural
centre of Holland. The castle possesses a beautiful herb garden
reconstructed after the garden lay-out of Hooft’s time.
A fairy-tale castle
The architect Cuypers, follower of the Franch master-builder E.
Violet-le-Duc (1814-1879) built castle De Haar in neo-gothic style
from 1892 till 1913 on the ruins of a medieval castle. De Haar is
a, by Dutch standards, fairy- tale castle, surrounded by a beautiful
park, also called “Little Versailles”.
The Shogun’s wife’s Japanese palanquin
The interior of the castle shows traces of an international luxurious
taste of the 19-th century and possesses an impressive collection
of Oriental vases and tapestries and last but not least a beautiful
17 th century Japanese palanquin.
Second World War
Of the enormous damage done to castle Doorwerth as a result of
allied bombing in the Second World War aimed at the German headquarters,
once located in the castle, there are no traces left as you can
see for yourself during a HollandTheRideWay tour.
Nowadays castles try to survive by accepting new functions such
as town-hall, museum and party-centre to be seen for example at
a castle near the central rivers. Here, during a tour through this
beautiful Dutch river area you can take a rest for a while in medieval
Being cheated at Rosendael castle
Or, how about having tea in the orangery of Rosendael castle near
Arnhem after having enjoyed the Shellgallery and having been cheated
by De Bedriegertjes (the Tricksters)
A country seat with a mainly residential function is a type of
building that could only come into existence after the Middle Ages
when the defensive function of the castle became of secundary importance
In the Netherlands there are several areas with country seats.
German Emperor Wilhelm II’s porcelain collection
A country seat in the centre of the country has become well-known
because it became the place of exile of the German emperor Wilhelm
II after the First World War. The emperor had many wagonloads of
furniture, jewellery, cutlery and other household goods transferred
Garden of Amsterdam
estates on the river Vecht bear witness of the wealth of the Amsterdam
merchants in the Dutch Golden Age.
The country houses have great charm because of their outward simplicity,
their good proportion, their dignity and the beautiful locations.
Whereas the exterior of the estates has often been kept simple,
the interior is often very luxurious, in contrast with southern
Europe where it was just the other way round.
One of the main reasons why the Vecht had such concentration of
country seats was of course the excellent river connection with
That’s why the most attractive side of the estates mostly
faces the river.
Ornamental wrought iron
With the appearance of main roads also the other side of the house
became more important, hence the ornamental wrought iron gates.
There are about 200 country houses along the Vecht, some of them
with beautiful gazebos at the waterside. They lend elegance to a
landscape of meadows, cattle and farmhouses. At the end of the fifties
many country houses fell into disrepair.
At present these country houses are very popular among film-producers
and TV stars (the Hilversum mediapark is only at a short distance),
art dealers and captains of industry. That’s why many houses
are not open to the public, but nevertheless a tour along the river
Vecht with HollandTheRideWay gives a good impression of Dutch country
Princess Juliana , our queen from 1948 till 1980
In 1674 Stadtholder Prince Willem III obtained the homestead Soestdijk
and had it turned into a hunting lodge by the The Hague architect
Maurits Post. In the French period (1795- 1813) Soestdijk was used
as a lodging house. The beautiful stately gardens were destroyed
and trees cut down. At present it is the residence of Juliana, the
mother of the present Queen Beatrix.
palace Noordeinde is the workpalace of Queen Beatrix. It was built
in 1533 and renovated by order of Prince Frederik Hendrik in the
period 1639 -1649 by Jacob van Campen, the master builder of the
Palace at the Dam in Amsterdam.
In front of the palace is an equestrian statue of William of Orange.
The gilded coach
Every year on the 3-rd Tuesday in September, on the occasion of
the opening of Parliament, Queen Beatrix rides in the Gilded coach
from Palace Noordeinde to the Binnenhof (the Dutch Parliament) where
she reads the speech from the throne to the assembly of the States
General. Should you be in the Netherlands on the third Tuesday in
September, HollandThe RideWay will then enable you to use this opportunity
to become acquainted with a well-known and colourful Dutch parliamentary
Summer-residence of the Dutch royal family
Palace Het Loo situated in the heart of the country near Apeldoorn
in the woody area of the Veluwe , was from 1686 till 1975 the favourite
summer-residence of the Dutch stadtholder and of the royal family.
Het Loo is mentioned in 1439 for the first time in the annals as
a medieval hunting lodge. The garden with many statues, ponds, fountains,
terraces, pergolas and vases became a real showpiece.
Interiors of 300 years House of Orange
Since 1984 the palace, also restored to 17th century state is a
museum. Inside the palace you can see 300 years of residence by
the house of Orange from William III up to and including Wilhelmina
(1898-1948) in various period rooms.
In the wings permanent and varying expositions of historic objects,
documents, printings , porcelain, silver, royal garments and court
costumes give a picture of the historic ties of the House of Orange
with the Netherlands.
Queen Wilhelmina’s painter’s cart
In the stable royal carriages, hunting carts and antique court
automobiles can be seen, among which the well-known Queen Wilhelmina’s
painter’s cart. There is so much to see at Het Loo that a
visit may well take a full day.
© Museum Het Loo