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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 active defence.


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 East.

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 suroundings.

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)

Country seats

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 from Germany.

Garden of Amsterdam

The 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 Amsterdam.
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.

Riverside summer-houses

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.

Media stars

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 life.

Royal palaces

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.

Queen Beatrix

The 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 tradition.

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
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© illustration: Lex Tempelman

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