De Haar Castle – The Netherlands’ Fantastical Treasure (History & Travel Tips)

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The largest castle in the Netherlands, De Haar is a must-visit if you wish to take a dip into the rich medieval history of this land. It’s filled with stories of royal clans, war, and folklore – legends that will make you grab the edge of your seat. The castle, surrounded by the magnificent scenery of Utrecht, makes the visit worth every penny. Here’s all you’ll need to know about it:

The architect responsible for the renovation of the castle, Pierre Cuypers, also designed the Rijksmuseum and the Central Station in Amsterdam.

The view of De Haar Castle from the garden.
The view of De Haar Castle from the garden. KASTEEL DE HAAR (92) flickr photo by bertknot shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Origins & Early Years (14th-16th Centuries)

The origins of the castle can be traced back to 1391 when the De Haar clan acquired the castle along with its grounds in the form of a fiefdom. It stayed under the possession of the family until the middle of the 15th century when the final male De Haar died heirless. After him, the castle’s ownership was transferred to another family who went by the sir name Van Zuylen. 


At the end of the 15th century (circa 1482), the castle suffered from a fire. The parts which were spared were the ones that didn’t serve any military purpose. It is thought that this original construction may have been integrated into the current rendition of De Haar Castle upon its 16th-century reconstruction. Several historical records mention the castle, including Steven van Zuylen’s inventory of possessions dating 1506.  The earliest image of the structure is from 1554, it is evident that the castle had been mostly reconstructed by that time.

An image of De Haar Castle in its ruinous state from the late 19th century.
An image of De Haar Castle in its ruinous state from the late 19th century. Anthony Grolman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

War & Destruction (17th Century)

The 17th century saw De Haar being owned by the last of the Van Zuylen line. After he died without any direct heirs in the year 1641, the castle slowly disintegrated and was reduced to ruins. Later in the same century, the fort barely managed to escape absolute demolition during the French occupation of the Netherlands in 1672.

In the early 19th century, the ownership of the castle lay with the bachelor Anton-Martinus van Zuylen, the last Catholic van Zuylen in the Netherlands. In 1801, he passed the property on to his cousin Jean-Jacques van Zuylen van Nyevelt.

The interior of De Haar Castle.
The interior of De Haar Castle. Txllxt TxllxT, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Reconstruction & Renovation (19th century onwards)

The castle was passed down to Jean Jacques’ grandson Ettiene, who married Baroness Hélène from the Rothschild family in 1887. The couple renovated the fortress thanks to the finances provided by the Rothschild family.

Post-renovation view of De Haar Castle.
Post-renovation view of De Haar Castle. Txllxt TxllxT, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Times

Pierre Cuypers, a well-known architect of the time, was hired to carry out the 19th-century renovation. Work started in 1892 and was completed in 1912. Post-renovation De Haar Castle has a total of 200 rooms, as well as 30 bathrooms. Cuypers also installed a sculpture of himself on the first floor inside the gallery.

The current form of De Haar Castle.
The current form of De Haar Castle. Txllxt TxllxT, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

He installed plenty of modern gadgets and machine systems inside the castle including central heating, electrical lighting, and high-end kitchen appliances, making the castle’s systems internationally recognized. It was one of the first industrial monuments of its kind back in the day. 

The castle gate to De Haar Castle.
The castle gate to De Haar Castle. DeHaarCastleGate flickr photo by Ruben Holthuijsen shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Currently, the castle is a highly recommended tourist destination hosting a large crowd of people each day. It also hosts several delightful events and festivals such as the Elf Fantasy Festival which prove to be worth the experience. The castle is also frequently booked for wedding occasions. 

Interesting De Haar Castle Facts

  • The park and gardens around the castle cover more than 135 acres of land.
  • The architect responsible for the renovation of the castle, Pierre Cuypers, also designed the Rijksmuseum and the Central Station in Amsterdam.
  • De Haar Castle is privately managed and is not granted any subsidies from governmental bodies. It earns all its revenues from ticket sales and events.
  • The interior of De Haar has a Japanese carrier coach as a centerpiece which is said to be one of the only two coaches belonging to the wife of a Japanese shogun. Japanese tourists often visit the castle to take a look at this coach.

Visiting De Haar Castle – Tips and Tricks

De Haar Castle looks like it’s popped out straight out of a fairytale book and would certainly make for a memorable place to visit if you’re in the Netherlands. Here’s how you can get there:

Visiting Tourists inside De Haar Castle's Knight's Hall.
Visiting Tourists inside De Haar Castle’s Knight’s Hall. Txllxt TxllxT, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to De Haar Castle?

You can get to De Haar Castle via train, taxi or car. Via train, you will board at Amsterdam Central and get off at Vleuten. From Vleuten, you will board the Line 127 bus from Vleuten Station and get off at Haarzuilens, Brink. From there, the castle is a 13-minute walk away. The journey will take you around 2 hours and 11 minutes and cost you around €18-€44 ($20-$50 USD).

The other way to travel to the castle is by taxi. The journey will take you a little over half an hour and cost you between €80-€88 ($90-$100 USD). 

You can also go by car, with an estimated fuel cost of around €9 ($10 USD) and a travel time of just 31 minutes. 

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The park is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM while the castle is open from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on most days.

Ticket pricing for Kasteel De Haar including free access to the parks is €18 ($21 USD) for adults, €12.5 ($15 USD) for children between the ages of 4 and 12, and free for children under 4. The parking costs an extra €6 ($7 USD).

For just the park, you can get a ticket for €7 ($8 USD) per adult, €4 ($4.5 USD) for children between 4 and 12 years of age, and avail free entrance for children under 4. 

An extra fee is charged if you wish to attend any special events taking place at the castle. A general tip is to call and check for ongoing activities in the castle and plan your trip accordingly in order to get the best, most immersive experience of the place.

The panoramic front view of De Haar Castle.
The panoramic front view of De Haar Castle. This Photo was taken by Wolfgang Moroder. , via Wikimedia Commons

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

The castle is quite large, it is recommended that you plan at least 3 hours to tour the building along with its breathtaking surroundings.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Pay a visit during springtime to enjoy the fresh, blossoming gardens surrounding the castle at their finest.
  • You can grab a coffee or enjoy a pleasant lunch at the cafe at the Tuinhuis.
  • If you come with kids, beware of them playing close to the surrounding lake.
  • Be mindful that personal baggage cannot be carried into the castle. There are, however, lockers present inside the castle to safely store your possessions while you tour.

Quick Video Tour of The Main De Haar Castle Castle Areas

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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