Thursday, 1 May 2014

Kasteel De Haar in Utrecht

This week is meivakantie in our part of the Netherlands - May school break. We decided to do a series of day trips out in our own country with the three boys instead of actually going away, which was what we first considered doing.

One of the places we chose to visit was Kasteel De Haar in Utrecht. Muiderslot had been on my bucket list for years, and last March I finally got to see that little gem of a castle. Then I came across another castle, and as my newly turned four year old had been blabbing on about castles this week we put it on the list. My expectations weren't high - we were going to a castle with what looked like nice gardens. That was all I knew.

First impressions count
From the moment we saw the castle from the road I knew it was going to be a fabulous afternoon. The castle stands proudly, magnificently and beautifully renovated surrounded by an English styled landscape and waterways. It is stunning. The renovations are ongoing and the flowers are yet to show their petals (summer blooms are planted after May 15th and I am guessing it looks spectacular) yet despite this it's already a true magical wonderland. 

You can get married there. I've already hinted to my husband that we should do our wedding over just so we can get married in this setting. The wedding photos would be stunning. I also want to live here when I retire. In fact, I'm okay moving in now. 

As it is school holiday time the castle is putting on special tours for children on a daily basis. You can only visit the castle with a guide and my eldest (7) loved the tour, and followed the guide round very enthusiastically. My 4 year old got bored half way through, wanting to go back outside to run around the gardens. My 2 year old wriggled a lot in the arms of his papa - who was reluctant to let him loose amongst the antique vases and expensive furniture. However, the tour was interesting and enjoyable in any case and at the end the children got a quiz (on paper to do later) and a diploma with their name on - very nice touches when you are little.

Beautiful details in every corner
It's amazing to think about the celebrities and gentry that have walked through those castle doors. Annually in September Kasteel De Haar still plays host to an array of the rich and famous. I'm thinking of ways to get on that guest list without actually being rich or famous.......ideas on a postcard......
Stunning - simply stunning

After the tour we headed back outside for a spot of lunch in the Tuynhuis, and then walked to the maze, which kept three little boys happily amused. When they emerged from the maze puffed out and red faced from running around they sat on a  bench and did the quizzes they got from the guided tour.

The gardens are huge and you could certainly wile away an afternoon walking around without going inside the castle at all. In fact, I had images of myself dressed in a white, flowing summer dress (à la Downton Abbey) and sun hat perched with my back against one of the many spectacular trees in the gardens, armed with nothing but a few notepads and pens. And a picnic. The place cries out for a summer picnic to be had there and there are plenty of beautiful spots to lay down a rug and enjoy an outdoor family feast.

The castle through a child's eyes
In short? In the words of my two eldest sons,

"This is the best castle ever!"

If you have never been - go!


  1. Hello I'm Indonesians. I always love visiting Holland not only because it is my favorite country, but also because I have been so many times that I feel no real pressure to do all of the tourist activities. Different things catch my eye on each trip, and I particularly enjoy wandering around the neighborhoods in Amsterdam, Leiden, Harlem, etc and taking self guided walking tours. But it's a pity that I haven't been to Utrecht.

  2. It really is a lovely castle. The Netherlands aren't so bad!