The Best 20 Castles to Visit in Netherlands (Listed by Popularity)

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As one of the most picturesque countries in the world, it’s only fair that the Netherlands be home to equally charming historical locations. The country is not only home to meandering canals, sprawling tulip fields, and tall windmills, but also some really interesting castle that are definitely worth visiting. With a vast variety of grand estates and fortified castles alike, the Netherlands has more than 600 castles within its jurisdiction. 

So whether you’re a fan of canal-side mansions loaded with troves of wonderful classical art, or whether you’re a history buff who wants to explore the cultural strata of the country, there’s something for everyone in this gorgeous country. Here are 20 of the best castles the Netherlands has to offer and what makes them so unique.

The order of the list is based on Google search volume of each castle = popularity.

1. Huis Doorn

The house and ground of Huis Doorn.
The house and ground of Huis Doorn. Basvb, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons

Huis Doorn is a manor house that was erected in the 17th century. Its most popular claim to fame is that it used to be the residence and the final resting place of the German Kaiser (Wilhelm II) when he passed away in 1941. American actress Audrey Hepburn’s mother also spent much of her childhood living in this house.

Previous iterations of Huis Doorne looked very different, in the 13th and 14th centuries respectively. The version that we know and love today, however, was constructed in the 19th century. Even today, one can enjoy the 20th-century interior and furniture appointment from the era of Kaiser Wilhelm.

Today, Huis Doorne is a national museum and is surrounded by lush parkland where visitors can spend some time reconnecting with nature.

2. Valkenburg Castle

The ruins of Valkenburg Castle overlooking town.
The ruins of Valkenburg Castle overlooking town. Romaine, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

As the only castle in the Netherlands that’s built on a hill, Valkenburg is considered one of the 100 most important Dutch monuments. The original keep-style construction was erected in the 12th century, but this structure was later mowed down by Henry V’s invasion. The version in ruins that we see today was built in the 14th century, although those, too, were destroyed eventually.

If you want to revisit the Middle Ages in the heart of the Netherlands, then the Valkenburg Castle ruins should definitely be on your itinerary. Through the glimpses of classic architecture and lush surroundings, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to the highlights of history. It’s a great place to plan a picnic with your kids or even a romantic getaway with your partner.

3. De Haar Castle

A panoramic view of De Haar Castle in the water.
A panoramic view of De Haar Castle. This Photo was taken by Wolfgang Moroder. CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As the largest castle in all of the Netherlands, De Haar not only wears the crown of being one of the most significant but is also a veritable architectural marvel. The earliest documentation of it dates back to the 15th century, when it was bestowed upon the De Haar family as part of a fiefdom.

The castle had fallen into ruin by the 19th century, which is when it underwent a major restoration. The revamp was conducted by the famous Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, who reinterpreted it with all the modern amenities (gas, electricity, etc.) of the time. De Haar was run by its eponymous foundation until 2011, when the last heir died and the property was sold to new private owners.

4. Breda Castle

The bridged moat at Kasteel van Breda.
The bridged moat at Kasteel van Breda. Anita from Den Haag / L’Aja / The Hague, Nederland / Olanda / The Netherlands, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kasteel van Breda is a fine example of Renaissance architecture in the Netherlands that actually dates back to the 12th century, when the very first settlement around Breda was taking shape. However, it only took the shape of a real castle 200 years later, under the watchful eye of Jan van Polanen I (whose family later merged with the Nassaus of the Netherlands).

Breda Castle was converted into a military academy at the start of the 19th century. This is when it lost most of its romantic Renaissance features. Today, it holds a central position in the center of the city, but is not open to visitors at all. It does, however, have superb aesthetic value on an urban scale, and is definitely a sight to enjoy when you’re walking through the city proper.

  • Location: Breda
  • Time built: 12th century
  • Architectural style: Renaissance
  • Touring: Not Allowed.

5. Slangenburg Castle

Slangenburg Castle on a sunny day.
Slangenburg Castle on a sunny day. Michielverbeek, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons

Set in a moat in the midst of a forest, Slangenburg Castle is a romantic picture of the Medieval era. It was originally constructed in the late medieval era, but it’s the 17th-century version that we see today. That’s when it was refurbished to outfit a private residence and remained so until the last family (the German Passmans) were relieved of their property after World War II. Some of the family is still buried in the moat-side cemetery.

After being seized by the Dutch government, the castle now serves as a guesthouse for a nearby monastery. The estate itself can be visited by the public, along with the monastery chapel. Its serene surroundings and lovely ambiance definitely make it worth putting on your itinerary if you’re in the area.

6. Amerongen Castle

A bird’s-eye view of Amerongen Castle and grounds.
A bird’s-eye view of Amerongen Castle and grounds. Bureau Redrum, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

This castle enjoys a proud dwelling place on the site of an old medieval fort that had been burned down. The Baroque style building that we see today was actually designed by the Dutch Golden Age architect Maurits Post. Amerongen Castle was also where the German Kaiser Wilhelm II signed his abdication and resided for a while before moving to Huis Doorne.

The building is lushly appointed with paintings and ornaments that date back through the centuries. There was an extensive renovation venture that happened between 2002-2011. A video installation was installed to draw visitors to the castle away from the modern and into the past. The videos project on the walls and take you on a sensory and immersive experience back to the 17th century.

7. Heeswijk Castle

Gothic-influenced Heeswijk Castle.
Gothic-influenced Heeswijk Castle. Velopilger, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoying its historic value as a restored 11th-century fortress, Heeswijk Castle has stood the tests of a thousand years and prides itself on enriching visitors on the Brabant history of the region. The strategically important location of this castle has kept it at the forefront of history, even surviving two attempts at siege by Prince Maurits in the 17th century.

Today, the castle is completely open to the public, and one gets to experience its lush interior, halls, and museum in all its restored glory. Visitors can even put on a knight’s helmet and even enjoy a nice drink at the museum cafe. There are also some pretty great walking and cycling routes along the estate, so it’s an excellent palace for nature lovers.

8. Rechteren Castle

A sketch of Rechteren Castle from 1729.
A sketch of Rechteren Castle from 1729. Haen, Abraham de, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Rechteren Castle used to be a fortified farm back in the 12th century. It wasn’t until the property came into the hands of a knight called Herman van Roost around teh 14th century that the castle we see now was built. Ownership kept changing hands over the centuries, with a major reconstruction featuring the addition of two floors in the 15th century. More wings were added in the 18th and 19th century until Rechteren took on the shape that we see today.

The beautiful architecture and lush surroundings of this castle have made it quite a lovely place to reside. Presently, Rechteren is being used as a private home, which is why it is permanently closed off to the public. This means no visitations of the grounds, except for on National Heritage Days.

  • Location: Dalfsen
  • Time built: 12th century
  • Architectural style: Neo-Gothic
  • Touring: Permanently Closed.

9. Ammersoyen Castle

Ammersoyen Castle across the way.
Ammersoyen Castle across the way. Kasteelbeer, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons

This medieval castle impresses with its might structure and classic architecture. Completed by the Van Herlaer family around 1350, Ammersoyen was originally designed to be a defensive fortress. Flanked by four towers, one on each corner, this castle is one of the most impressive examples of Dutch medieval architecture from its era. In fact, it has withstood multiples sieges and even a fire during the span of the centuries.

Turned over to the hands of a foundation in the mid-20th century, Ammersoyen Castle went through 16 years of restoration works. This is when the moat was excavated and several unique medieval-era objects were preserved for posterity within the castle interior. Today, the building has been repurposed for visitors, complete with a museum attic.

10. Biljoen Castle

Biljoen Castle in its pristine nature setting.
Biljoen Castle in its pristine nature setting. Henk Monster, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before a castle was built here, the estate was known by the name of Broekerhof, it was where the taxes were collected for the region. In 1530, Biljoen Castle was constructed at the behest of the Duke of Guylders–but it has, of course, undergone constant expansion since. The towers of the castle date back to the 16th century, but most of the current form was added in the 18th century by the Van Spaen clan.

The romantic Baroque architecture of Biljoen Castle is accompanied by picturesque surroundings. From old trees to cascading streams and gorgeous water features, the surrounding parkland makes it feel as if this castle is in a secluded dreamland that’s a portal to another dimension. Biljoen Castle is currently in use as a private residence; tours of the site are not allowed unfortunately.

  • Location: Arnhem
  • Time built: 16th century
  • Architectural style: Baroque
  • Touring:  Permanently Closed.

If you are a castle enthusiast, you must take out the time to visit these equally spectacular castles in the Netherlands as well:

11. Cannenburgh Castle

Cannenburch Castle at sunset.
Cannenburch Castle at sunset. Guus van der Valk, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This waterside castle dates back to the mid-16th century, where its current iteration was built upon the ruins of a previous fortification. Cannenburgh was confiscated by the Dutch government right after World War II, but ownership was transferred to a foundation in 1951. Extensive renovation works were carried out on the interior and exterior before Cannenburgh was re-opened to the public. Today, its classic antiquity and lush gardens have made it one of the best places for tourists to visit.

12. Croy Castle

The gorgeous facade of Croy Castle.
The gorgeous facade of Croy Castle. Spoorend & http://www.kasteelcroy.nl/, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dating back to the 15th century, Croy didn’t reach its present look until Corelius van Bergen took ownership. The following years saw a constant passing of ownership until 1873, when it was used as a home for the elderly. Croy Castle continued serving the elderly until 1977 when it was closed due to safety hazards. Today, it serves as a home for several offices, while the gated part is used as a private residence and bed-and-breakfast. The interior is not able to be visited.

13. Doornenburg Castle

Doornenburg Castle standing tall across the fields.
Doornenburg Castle standing tall across the fields. GVR, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons

Doornenburg is one of the most well-preserved castles in all of the Netherlands and hails its origins from a manor house that was originally built in the 9th century. The site map consists of two buildings (including the front castle, which was added in the 15th century), which are both connected through a wooden bridge amidst a picturesque landscape. Doornenburg fell into disrepair in the 19th century, was renovated pre-WWII, damaged by bombardment, and again renovated to its modern appearance.

14. Doorwerth Castle

Doorwerth Castle along the River Rhine.
Doorwerth Castle along the River Rhine. Agnes Monkelbaan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This 13th-century castle overlooking the River Rhine was built to replace a previous timber construction that burned down. The 14th & 15th centuries saw its perpetual enlargement. The castle was abandoned in the 18th century, bought by a new lord, restored, and once again abandoned after his death.

Doorwerth Castle suffered a lot of damage from German shelling during World War II. Restoration works began in earnest in the latter half of the 20th century and it has been maintained as a museum ever since.

15. Duivenvoorde Castle

A picturesque capture of Duivenvoorde Castle.
A picturesque capture of Duivenvoorde Castle. Marianne Cornelissen-Kuyt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Duivenvoorde Castle prides itself as being one of few castles that have never been sold but have passed only through inheritance. It has been around since the 13th century and is being managed by a foundation on the behest of the last owner. Renovation works have been carried out to revert the castle to its 18th-century glory while turning it into a museum. The south wing is still inhabited by the family, though.

16. Duurstede Castle

A haunting autumnal setting for the ruins of Duurstede Castle.
A haunting autumnal setting for the ruins of Duurstede Castle. HenkvD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This castle used to be a freestanding keep back in the 13th century until the 15th century, when it was bought by the Holy Roman Empire. The reigning bishop instigated a total reconstruction, successors’ updates gave the castle some Renaissance features as well.

Today, Duurstede sits smack in the middle of a fairytale parkland. It is now used to host a number of events – particularly weddings. It has also been featured in quite a number of movies, including Lady Death: The Movie.

17. Heeze Castle

Heeze Castle on a sunny afternoon.
Heeze Castle on a sunny afternoon. Johan Bakker, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Heeze Castle was part of a seigniory in the 14th century, but later became the property of the Duke of Brabant as part of his fiefdom. Today, the building can be distinctly divided into two parts – one is the medieval castle that sits within the water, while the other is a 17th-century addition, never fully completed. These days, the castle is an important National Monument and opened to the public during peak tourist season.

18. Hoensbroek Castle

Hoesnbroek Castle’s tall turrets take the focus of this view.
Hoesnbroek Castle’s tall turrets take the focus of this view. © Sir Gawain / Wikimedia Commons

Originally dating back to the 14th century, the most notable relic of this era is the round tower. Hoensbroek enjoyed a key location in the Duchy of Brabant and was therefore expanded a lot over the span of the centuries. With its 57 halls, various rooms, and living quarters, it’s definitely a magnificent sight to behold. Today, the castle has been opened to the public and is known for providing an excellent time for both kids and adults.

19. Huis Bergh

Huis Bergh from across the water.
Huis Bergh from across the water. Michielverbeek, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons

Dating back to the 12th century, all the major construction of this castle was carried out in the 14th and 15th centuries. It all burned down in a fire that broke out in the 18th century. It remained in a state of epic disrepair until the property was bought by the Dutch Industrialist Jan Herman van Heek. After another fire, Huis Bergh was renovated in 1941 and is now a boisterous wedding location, hotel, & convention center.

20. Huys Dever

The quaint castle called Huys Dever.
The quaint castle called Huys Dever. peter van der Wielen, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons

Huys Dever is a charming little castle that was constructed on one of the five farmlands in Lisse back in the day. Surrounded by bulb fields and boasting a quintessential charm that draws every visitor in, this castle is one of the prettiest in the Netherlands.

Today, Huys Dever is home to a museum and is easily accessible to cyclers and hikers alike. There’s no wheelchair accessibility due to the bad terrain, but the site can be rented out of weddings and other functions.

Conclusion

The Netherlands is an excellent place to visit with many amazing tourist destinations. But there’s just something so culturally significant and rich about visiting the oldest castles that a country has to offer.

Each of the buildings on this list has something unique to offer and will take you back to a time when you can experience the true history and changes that the country has been through. We hope you’re able to add at least a few of them into your itinerary if you’re visiting the Netherlands.

Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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