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A magical day at Kasteel de Haar

Kasteel de Haar is located in Utrecht and is officially the largest castle in The Netherlands. It is like walking into a fairytale or Alice’s Wonderland when entering the grounds. The castle stands magnificently in the centre of the surrounding grounds. Exploring Kasteel de Haar on a sunny day is something that must be enjoyed by all, especially when you add ‘appeltaart met slagroom’ (apple tart with whipped cream) to your day at the ‘Koetshuis de Haar’ (Coach House). 

Kasteel de Haar

Check out more delicious foods to try in The Netherlands here!

Brief History

Let’s start at the beginning. The oldest historical record of any building being at the location of the current castle dates back to the 14th Century. In 1391 the De Haar family gained ownership of the land and remained so until 1440. The castle and land passed through various families and eventually fell into a gradual ruin in the 17th century. The Kasteel de Haar we see today was brought to life over a period of 20 years (from 1892 – 1912) by contracted famous architect Pierre Cuypers.

Jumping forward to our lifetime, in 2000, the Van Zuylen van Nyevelt family passed ownership of the castle and the gardens to the Foundation Kasteel de Haar. A decade long restoration programme began in 2001 and was completed in 2011. When the last Van Zuylen male heir died, his daughters sold the art collection and interior furnishings of the castle to the Foundation Kasteel de Haar. This is what we see today when visiting the stunning castle and gardens.

The Castle

As previously mentioned De Haar is the largest castle in The Netherlands. Being the largest is not the only accolade this magical castle holds. The medieval fortress vibe it resonates is majestic, with towers, moats, gates and drawbridges all adding to the style. The colours of the Van Zuylen family are red and white which you can see throughout the exterior walls of the castle. To the kids, this is the closest to a real life fairytale castle they may ever see!

The Gardens

The grounds around Kasteel De Haar were also designed and created over a period of 20 years from 1894 – 1914. Van Zuylen ordered 7,000 grown trees to be erected in the surrounding gardens. Fascinatingly, to create the 135 acre park, the village of Haarzuilens was demolished, with the exception of the town church, and moved to a site 1km further up. This is where a new Haarzuillens village arose with the buildings mostly designed by Cuypers and his son. How mad is that? 

Kasteel de Haar

During the Second World War much of the gardens were lost. The wood was used to light fires and the soil to grow vegetables. Nowadays, the gardens are restored to their former glory and illustrate the magic of the castle. We thoroughly enjoyed walking around the gardens, especially in bloom. Upon entry you will get a map highlighting the more significant spots throughout the grounds. Honestly just walk to your hearts content and take in the beauty of the entire garden. The rose garden, roman garden, ponds, canals and romantic vistas are all but a few that adds to the charm of the park. It’s worth mentioning that the majority of the park is wheelchair friendly apart from a few steps in the Roman Garden.

Kasteel de Haar

The Chapel or Old Town Church

The last and only standing reminder of the old village of Haarzuilens is The Chapel. The existence of this building dates back to 1420 and similarly to the castle fell into disrepair over the course of the 17th Century. Thanks to the Van Nuylen family, the Chapel was restored as a Castle Chapel. This is actually the resting place for many of the Van Nuylen family after death. Nowadays it is actually possible to rent the atmospheric Chapel as a wedding venue, accommodating a maximum of 120 guests.

Events throughout the year

Italy event – Enjoy delicious pastas, wines and live music at this prestigious event celebrating Italy’s finest.

Elfia – The kingdom of Elfia, Europe’s largest outdoor costume event, will reveal itself here.

Treasure Hunts (for those young detectives) 

Half Marathon Castle Run (June annually)

Wedding availability – There are plenty of packages for a variety of budgets to actually get married here!

Kasteel de haar

Opening Hours

For up to date opening hours of the Castle and surrounding Park visit the official Kasteel de Haar website. As seasons change so do the opening hours.


The admission prices varies depending on your visit choices (Gardens, Castle and Chatelet). Starting at €7 and increasing to €25.50 for adults you can check out the up to date ticket prices via the official Kasteel de Haar website.

You are advised to book tickets in advance via their online ticket page to ensure a visit at your desired time.

Interesting Facts

The castle has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, of which only a small number on the ground and first floor have been opened to be viewed by the public.

Kasteel de Haar ranks among the top twenty most visited museums throughout The Netherlands. Easily one of the most beautiful we’ve ever visited!

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