Haar Castle is the largest castle in the Netherlands, as you will discover when you visit this beautiful monument. You can find it a short distance from the city of Utrecht and just over half an hour by car from Amsterdam.
With a typical fairy tale castle look, Château de Haar features round towers that are topped by a pointed roof. However, what is most striking, in addition to its beautiful architecture, is its exceptional state of conservation.
Origins of the castle of Haar
The de Haar is one of the most important castles in all of Europe, and has belonged to the Van Zuylen family since its construction. The first works on this historic castle date back to the 13th century, and show that it was already a large house or mansion.
As we mentioned, its promoters were the members of the Van Zuylen family. This was a family of the Belgian-Dutch nobility that has preserved it from its origins to the present day.
However, this family was not always able to give him the care he deserves. Thus, in the 18th century the house fell into a process of abandonment and deterioration that was accentuated during the 19th century, at which time it was almost completely destroyed. Oddly enough, a wedding was decisive in saving Haar Castle from abandonment.
It was about the link between Etienne van Zuylen van Nyevelt van de Haar, heir to the family, and Helene de Rothschild. She belonged to the famous and multi-million dollar German-Jewish Rothschild banking family.
The union meant a great economic improvement for the van Zuylen family, which allowed the reconstruction of the family castle at the end of the 19th century. These works involved starting a completely new project, which resulted in the current castle of Haar.
The improvement in the financial position of the owning family allowed the project of the castle to be entrusted to the same architect responsible for the Rijksmuseum and Central Station, the architect Pierre Cuypers. Reconstruction took just over 20 years, and was one of the most important projects of its time.
Visit to the castle of Haar
In the reconstruction, the entire complex was intervened. That is to say, the castle both inside and outside, the gardens and the chapel. In this way, the place became famous during the sixties of the last century, since the Baroness Marie Helene van Zuylen used to spend the summer there. The place is organized as follows:
The central hall
Upon entering the castle, you will arrive at the central or main hall . This space was previously the old courtyard of the house, and was roofed during the castle’s reform. It is 18 meters high and, at first glance, it seems to combine the style of a Gothic cathedral and a luxurious hotel.
And it is that the castle of Haar was conceived with the intention of holding parties, and this hall was built as a space to receive the guests of the numerous meetings that took place in the complex. Here they could have a drink or rest while waiting for their luggage, or simply wait for their transport to arrive.
We can also highlight other rooms in the castle, such as the main room, the dining room or the dance room, another very important place for the parties that took place in this castle. In addition, it has 200 bedrooms on the first floor, all with a different decoration, and no more and no less than 30 bathrooms.
Stables and the chapel
The old stables are adjacent to the entrance gate of the castle, made up of two towers and a bridge. At present, these stables are occupied by the ticket offices and the museum cafeteria.
The terrace of the cafeteria is one of the most interesting places to end or start the visit, as its tables in the sun are sure to be to your liking. Reconstruction work included the Slotkapel chapel. In a Gothic-Renaissance style, it preserves some of the old walls, as well as the crypt of the Van Zuylen family.
Gardens and parks
We owe the design of open spaces, such as gardens and parks, to the architect Cuypers and the landscaper Hendrik Copijn. The gardens had to be at the same level of beauty and splendor as the castle.
For this reason, more than 50 hectares were designed where you can stroll through ponds or orchards and discover various French-style gardens. Special mention should be made of the Rose Garden, which has more than 69 different types of roses.
In short, if you visit the Netherlands, the Haar castle is an almost obligatory stop, especially if you are interested in historical-cultural tourism. This visit has many corners of great beauty, and they all have an important story behind.