Kasteel de Haar - the monumental castle of Utrecht (Netherlands)
Location show on map
Date of build
Since the 14th century
Castle de Haar is an imposing neo-Gothic castle-palace in the Dutch city of Utrecht, which impresses with its design, history and beautiful surroundings.
The earliest references to the building on the site of the current fortress date back to 1391. Until 1440, the castle was owned by the De Haar family. When the last childless descendant died, the fortress was handed over to the Van Zuylen family.
In 1482 the castle was burnt down and the walls destroyed, except for the parts that had no military function. In 1554, the fortress was rebuilt and modernised. From 1641, when Johan van der Haar Zuylen died childless, the castle gradually fell into disrepair.
In 1887, Baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nievelt became the owner of the fortress and financed the reconstruction of the castle. The design of the new castle was made by the Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers (it probably took him 20 years). As part of the construction work, the moat was renewed, the old walls were demolished and new walls were erected. The interior was kept in a neo-Gothic style.
Castle de Haar is an example of the Neo-Gothic architectural style. During the 19th-century reconstruction work, the architect Pierre Cuypers gave it a distinctive Gothic-inspired look.
The castle was equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the time - electric lighting with its own generator and central heating.
The fortress has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms. To emphasise the castle's qualities, the surrounding land was bought up and transformed into a large garden. Chateau de Haar is surrounded by extensive gardens and parks, which are as impressive as the castle itself. The gardens are meticulously maintained and contain formal elements, but also natural corners. The castle is surrounded by a moat and the bridges leading to the entrance gate add to the charm of the place.
In 1934, the castle was inherited by his son Etienne van Zuylen van Nievelt, who, as a diplomat, rarely used the fortress. During the Second World War, the owner went to England and the castle became a temporary place for one of the German commanders. The castle was not destroyed or looted.
On his return home, the castle was opened to the public. After the baron's death, the fortress passed to his son Thierry, who owned it until 2000.
In 2000, the Van Zuylen van Nyevelt family donated the castle and gardens of 45 hectares to the Kasteel de Haar foundation. However, the family retained the right to spend one month per year at the castle. In the same year, the Dutch association Natuurmonumenten bought the surrounding estate of 400 hectares.
Tourists can now only visit the part of the fortress now serving as a museum and tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the interiors of the castle, which have been decorated in the style of the old days, displaying the luxury and elegance of the wealthy social class. The interiors contain a collection of valuable artworks, furniture and other historical artefacts.
The castle has a rich collection of books in its interiors. The book collection comprises more than 20,000 volumes, many of which are valuable manuscripts and old prints.
Castle de Haar was the inspiration for the creators of the popular video game series 'Assassin's Creed'. The castle's architecture served as a model for the virtual action location in the game.