Inside Holland’s castles
Step inside the castles and country houses of Gelderland
The province of Gelderland is rich in history and castles and country houses, offering visitors many opportunities to step back through seven centuries of grandeur and opulence. Dating back to the middle ages, the imposing House Middachten rises up majestically from its moat lake in the Middachten estate near Arnhem. The house has remained in the same family for 25 generations, meaning its interiors, impressive collection of family portraits, 17th to 19th-century furniture and antique silver have remained largely intact. In the stately Castle Verwolde you can be immersed in 200 years of Dutch aristocratic life by exploring perfectly preserved 18th-century interiors. While the turreted Castle Ammersoyen takes visitors even further back in time to the 14th century, where medieval armor, weaponry and other artefacts are on display in the building’s various rooms and attics.
The richly decorated period rooms of the 12th-century Castle Doorwerth are a joy to explore, while special exhibitions offer details of the castle’s history, forestry and hunting. Castles Cannenburch and Rosendael invite visitors to uncover 200 years of history through their majestically decorated rooms and artefacts. Bergh Castle is another fantastic sight, inside and out, showcasing a unique medieval art collection of paintings, icons and weapons. If you love archaeology, don’t miss the collection at Castle Wychen. While at the other end of the museum spectrum, Ruurlo Castle recently opened its doors to unveil the largest collection of paintings by Dutch modern artist Carel Willink. Another special place in Gelderland is the Jachthuis Sint-Hubertus in the Hoge Veluwe National Park. This extraordinary country house was designed by architect H.P. Berlage.
Utrecht: a province of castles and country houses
In the heart of Holland, the lush Utrechtse Heuvelrug region is rich in castles and historical houses with impressive interiors to explore. The enchanting De Haar Castle oozes opulence from its early 20th-century Gothic Revival interiors, designed by famous Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers (of Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam Central Station fame), and has hosted a procession of glamourous guests. Don’t miss the huge kitchen with its state of the art Drouet stove – the Rolls Royce of early 20th-century kitchen equipment. The 18th-century Rococo mansion Groeneveld Castle boasts similarly opulent interiors, with hand-painted 18th-century wallpaper, fine marble, wood carving and stucco work by father-and-son sculptor and wood carving team Jan and Ignatius van Logteren.
City escapes near Amsterdam and The Hague
The area around Amsterdam and The Hague is a treasure trove of stately castles and gardens, thanks to the rich merchants of the Dutch Golden Age who would build their summer escapes in the countryside outside of the city. Castle Keukenhof is of course famous for its neighboring flower gardens, but visitors shouldn’t overlook the centuries-old house itself, with its large collection of painted portraits, furniture, Chinese porcelain and decor that spans the styles of each century. At the stately Castle Duivenvoorde near The Hague, take a guided tour through lavishly decorated rooms – including the library, the ‘Turkish Room’ and the opulent Marot Room – and view a unique collection of family portraits, silver objects, Delft Blue pottery, and Chinese and European porcelain. While Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot, just a short hop from Amsterdam, once famously housed the author and poet, P.C. Hooft – a man whose name is associated with the P.C. Hooftstraat, the exclusive shopping street in Amsterdam.
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Art and history in beautiful surroundings
Many castles in Holland double up as national museums dedicated to art and history. In the Utrecht region, see rare Chinese wall coverings and the collected works of Dutch artist Armando at the MOA museum, housed in the stately Kasteel Oud-Amelisweerd. Or explore the castle museum of Slot Zuylen, where the past is brought back to life through an impressive collection of porcelain, glassware, paintings, furnishings and tapestries. In Museum Huis Doorn, you can step inside the imperial court-in-exile of the last German Emperor, Wilhelm II, who fled to Holland after World War I. Today the house offers a perfectly preserved slice of life in a royal residence, with around 30,000 objects from Wilhelm’s palaces in Berlin and Prussia on display.
Near The Hague, Museum Voorlinden houses a collection of modern and contemporary art on the stately Voorlinden estate, while the Museum MORE at the restored Castle Ruurlo in Gelderland focuses on the life and work of the master artist Carel Willink and the creations of fashion designer Fong Leng. The beautifully preserved Castle het Nijenhuis now houses the private art collection of former Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen director Dirk Hannema, including a stunning sculpture garden in the museum’s grounds.
Find a hotel in the region to explore even more of Holland’s castles and gardens.
Experience even more of the castle lifestyle with an overnight stay at one of Holland’s many castle hotels, or dinner at a castle restaurant.