Haar Castle is a must-see if you are visiting the city of Utrecht. It is located on the city’s outskirts, about thirty minutes by car or one hour if you go by public transport.
Visit Haar Castle Utrecht
I really love visiting castles. We do it in Spain very often because they are a part of our history.
But in Spain, it is challenging to find visitable castles well preserved and inhabited until a few years ago.
When I have the opportunity to visit a castle like this one, I don’t give it a second thought, and I make a plan to dedicate a day to it.
What is the De Haar Castle Known for?
Haar Castle has this fairy-tale castle appearance, with its round towers culminating in a pointed crest. However, for me, the fantastic thing about this castle is how well-preserved it is.
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De Haar Castle History
Haar Castle Utrecht has always belonged to the same family, the Van Zuylen family. It is the largest castle in The Netherlands and one of the most important in Europe. However, this was not always the case.
The origin of the site dates back to the 13th century. The first construction was a castle different from the current one and this size. It was a large house, rather a mansion, in which the Van Zuylen family of the Belgian-Dautch nobility stayed.
During the 18th century and especially during the 19th century, the house fell into disrepair and was practically destroyed.
Until the heir of the family, Etienne van Zuylen van Nyevelt van de Haar, married Helene de Rothschild, a member of the famous German-Jewish Rothschild banking family.
This was a clear improvement in the economic position of the van Zuylen family and allowed Etienne to rebuild the family home. Instead of rebuilding it, he started a completely new project, the result of which was Haar Castle.
Money was not exactly one of the drawbacks, so he commissioned the architect who had designed the Rijksmuseum and Central Station to design the castle, his name, Pierre Cuypers.
The reconstruction-reform project lasted no less than 20 years and was one of the most important and unique of its time.
Who Owns De Haar Castle Now?
After the Van Zuylen van Nyevelt family, the castle’s ownership is now at the Foundation Kasteel de Haar. The transfer of ownership was done in 2000. Then, the Dutch society Natuurmonumenten restored the surrounding estate from 2001 to 2011 and bought the 400-ha area.
The Van Zuylen van Nyevelt family can spend at least one month a year in the castle.
Haar Castle Garden
The renovation project covered the entire complex, not only the castle or its structure, the interior of the castle, but also the gardens and the chapel. You can get tickets to the castle gardens here.
Haar Castle is surrounded by water, and from the beginning, its design was already intended for its future use. Attending guests to impress them.
It is not surrounded by water for defensive reasons but to highlight and emphasize the magnificence of the castle.
In the 1960s, Haar Castle gained international prominence because it was here that Baroness Marie Helene van Zuylen came for a month in the summers.
The parties he organized were famous and were attended as guests by members of the nobility and the jet set of the time, such as Coco Chanel, Maria Callas, Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, Yves Saint Laurent, Joan Collins, and Brigitte Bardot.
I recommend you take a nice walk through the gardens, they are very quiet, and it is easy to get lost to enjoy the relaxation. Though the paths are not as challenging to walk on, you need the best travel shoes to easily tour the castle.
Before going on the trip, make sure to get the best travel clothing depending on the season.
You can also see the deer in a semi-free state or have a picnic at some of the half-hidden tables.
The Central Hall
When you enter the castle’s interior, the first room you will see is the Central Hall or Main Hall. It was in the old courtyard of the house, but during the renovation and restoration, a beautiful wooden roof was built, becoming part of the interior.
The hall is 18 meters high and looks like a design combination between a gothic cathedral and a luxury hotel. It is frankly interesting.
Haar Castle had been designed to cater to guests, and this hall was where guests were welcomed, offered a drink, a place to rest while they brought their luggage or where to wait for their transport to arrive if they were going on an excursion.
You can also visit the dining room where the dinners were organized. In this dining room, there is a model of Haar Castle, which is made of sugar. You can see photos of famous and renowned guests in this room.
After visiting the castle’s interior, we went for a walk in the gardens to see the deer. We were lucky because they were totally relaxed, lying and ruminating, staring at us.
They’re wondering what we’re doing, taking pictures of them like crazy.
It’s just Vero and me. This is what I appreciated most about the visit. There were no crowds or overcrowding. You could make it entirely to your liking. Get your entrance ticket here.
We spent about three hours on tour in the end, but I think it was great. We had a good time, learned things, and enjoyed ourselves. I hope the same thing happens to you!
Plan Your Trip to Utrecht
- Where to eat in Utrecht
- What to see in Utrecht, must-see attractions
- Accommodation in Utrecht
- 10 days in the Netherlands Itinerary
- What to see in Rotterdam on a weekend
- What to see in Amsterdam in 4 days
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Last Updated on 13 September, 2023 by Veronica
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