De Haar – fairytale castle in Holland

Do you want to visit a fairytale castle with me? Today I would like to take you to the castle De Haar in the Netherlands. It’s the largest and most luxurious castle in the Netherlands so be ready for a long walk and amazing views!

De Haar

The restoration of the castle in the 19th century was commissioned by Baron Etienne and Baroness Hélène Van Zuylen. The main architect was Pierre Cuypers who transformed the existing castle ruins into a representative fairy – tale castle.

The castle served as a private residence for many years. Daughters of the last baron decided to turn the residence into a museum which was opened in 2006. The castle De Haar is a private foundation and it entirely relies on the revenue from ticket sales, activities and events.

For many years it has been tradition for the Van Zuylen van Nijevelt van de Haar family to reside in the castle for one month a year. This is what they also agreed after the ownership of the castle was taken over by the foundation.

Are you ready for a tour?

Let’s enter the complex through the main gate..

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The combined entrance fee to the castle and the park is EUR 16. If you want to join the guided tour and visit servant rooms, you will have to pay additional EUR 3 per person.

After we purchased our tickets we started to walk towards the castle.

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In front of the castle there is The Rose Garden that was redesigned as a memorial for Helin van Zuylen who died in a car accident. There are more than 75 rose varieties planted in the garden. Couple of them are still blooming. I can only imagine how beautiful the garden is in the summer.

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There are many gardens around the castle that represents different styles and ideas. This one is called The Boxwood Garden and it reflects the baroque garden style.

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The castle dates back to the 14th century when it was owned by the family De Haar. The ownership was transferred in 1440 to the Van Zuylen family. At the end of the 15th century the castle was burned down. It was partly restored but in the 17th century it turned into the ruins after Johan Van Zuylen died.

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After Etienne van Zuylen and Hélène de Rothschild inherited the castle they decided to restore it. The restoration was entirely covered by Hélène’s family. It took them 20 years to restore the castle – from 1892 to 1912.

We watched a short documentary about the castle and it’s hard to believe that they were able to turn the castle ruins into its current appearance!

It took great effort to protect the castle during the World War II. If Nazis would have known that the castle was built from Jewish money, they would have bombed it immediately.

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The castle has 200 rooms and 30 bathroom but only a few of them are opened to be viewed by the public. This small castle can’t be accessed.

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It’s a long walk to get to the main building..

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We’re finally here! The colors of the family Van Zuylen are red and white so the flowers are planted in the same colors.

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Now we will walk up the stairs to get to the castle.

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Let’s go inside!

Lions and mythical beasts are guarding the bridge across the moat at the entrance to the main building.

The bridge behind the ‘guards’ is a fully functioning drawbridge.

There is a mechanism to move the bridge up and down in one of the towers but it’s not used at the moment as there are no cameras installed outside and you can’t see the bridge from the tower, so it could happen that there would be a few casualties (tourists) if somebody would try to move it.

And this is also why cameras would do a better job than lions and other mythical beasts 😊

The Interior

The castle was very modern for the beginning of the 20th century. It was the first castle with electrical lighting with its own generator and even the Dutch Queen didn’t have electricity in her residence at that time!

The castle De Haar was built to show the wealth of the family and to receive famous and important guests. The main hall was formerly the courtyard of the castle. It was roofed in during the restoration. The wooden ceiling is decorated with gold leaf. It is a very impressive room! The room is dark to protect the beautiful decorations.

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The Main Hall is a unique room which looks like a combination of a Gothic cathedral and a hotel lobby. It was created for the guests to relax, get a glass of champagne and wait for each other.

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Let’s go to The Dining Room! This replica of the castle is made of sugar! It was built by head chef Pierre Amory. It was created in 1978. It took him two months to build this masterpiece and he used 80 kilos of sugar! This artwork was placed in the middle of the table, but it was far too beautiful to eat.

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The dining room could accommodate 34 guests. For over a hundred years, guests have been dining in this dining hall at the same table and in the same manners.

The table is set for 10 people but it can be extended. Shall I book a place for you? 😊

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In The Great Hall the baron and baroness were entertaining their prominent guests. Famous guests were Coco Chanel, Maria Callas, Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, Yves Saint Laurent, Joan Collins and Brigitte Bardot just to name a few.

There are a few mannequins representing some of the guests.

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This is Telly Savalas who was an American singer and character actor. In each room there was a volunteer who was there to help visitors. In this room it was challenging to find the person as she was sitting quietly next to the mannequins 😊

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The baron wished to have his bedroom decorated in Louise XIV style but Pierre Cuypers had different ideas that he wished to implement in this room. They went through heated discussions and at the end Cuypers’ son Joseph produced the new design that was acceptable by the baron.

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The room is dominated by the impressive fireplace behind this desk. The Louise XIV style is strongly present in this room.

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Are you excited to see The Bedroom Of The Baroness?

The baron and baroness asked the French interior designer Henri Nelson to design this room. Like her husband she didn’t like the Gothic style that was preferred by Pierre Cuypers. He was furious about this design and he created an oak door to hide this ‘ugly’ room.

I must agree with the baroness. It’s a beautiful room perfectly decorated for a royal lady.

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The baron was very well known for his respect shown towards the servants. His personal servants didn’t live in the castle but in a nearby village. All his guests came with their own servants. He created 30 comfortable rooms for these servants.

Usually servants had to face harsh conditions so the baron gained popularity by giving them so much comfort.

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This is the view from one of the rooms. I wouldn’t mind..

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The Park

Let’s explore the park now!

The park and gardens surrounding the castle cover over 135 acres of land and there are around 7000 trees!

You can spend there all day walking around. There are many spots where you can sit down and relax.

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The Roman Garden was created by Hendrik Copijn who took inspiration from classical Roman gardens. In summer the garden is planted with beautiful flowers.

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The church is the only landmark that remained from the village Haarzuilens. After the village was destroyed, the inhabitants were moved to a place that is a few kilometers away and a new Haarzuilens was established.

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The park looks like a small forest. What would you do with such a big ‘garden’?

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There are also a few lakes in the park.

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It was a long day and now it’s time to grab something to eat. I guess you are hungry too! 😊 We enjoyed the castle and we will come back again!

I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as we did

Thank you for reading,

Cheers,
Martina

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