Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Fortresses, Castles & Palaces in the Nertherlands

Many Dutch castles were built between the 12th and 17th centuries, for defence, residence, and administrative centres. The Netherlands is known for its innovative management of water. Some Dutch castles were built on artificial mounds or low lying land and are surrounded by water, creating a defensive advantage and adding to their picturesque charm. Following centuries of conflict, neglect, and in some cases several changes of ownership, many Dutch castles have been sensitively restored. Today, these castles are home to museums, or are tourist attractions in their own right, offering visitors an engaging insight into Dutch history and culture.

Bouvigne Castle

Bouvigne Castle existed in some form from at least the 16th century, when it is recorded in historical documentation. In 1614, William of Orange bought the property and transformed it in accordance with the Renaissance styles that were popular at the time, thus resulting in its present appearance. Although the castle, as well as its accompanying chapel and coach house, is unfortunately not open to the public, today’s visitors can still explore the three early 20th-century gardens, one each in the English, French, and German styles.

Doorwerth Castle

A stone fortification has stood at Doorwerth Castle since at least the 13th century, having replaced an earlier timber structure on this site. Rebuilding projects enlarged the castle in the Later Middle Ages. Although heavily damaged during the Second World War, a restoration project resulted in Doorwerth taking its present form around the 1980s. Today, visitors can explore several of the castle rooms, several of which now host the Dutch Hunting Museum, the National Forestry Collection, and the Museum Veluwezoom. Like many castles, it is reputedly haunted.

Duivenvoorde Castle

Located in Voorschoten, Duivenvoorde Castle has origins stretching back to the 13th century. Substantial 17th-century alteration resulted in the castle obtaining its present appearance, a luxury home surrounded by attractive gardens. A French Baroque garden was added in the 18th century, largely replaced in the 19th with an English country garden. Over eight centuries, the castle was never sold, meaning that it passed down through familial succession from its first recorded owner, Philips van Wassenaer, something that is quite unusual.

Heeswijk Castle

Marking the spot where a motte-and-bailey fortification stood in the 11th-century, Heeswijk Castle displays a thousand years of architectural development. Over the course of the Middle Ages a defensive stone castle emerged, one that was besieged and conquered in 1629. In the 1830s, the wealthy baron André van den Bogaerde van Terbrugge assumed ownership of the castle and oversaw its further transformation with the addition of Neo-Gothic elements that help give it its fairy-tale appearance. Open since the 1950s, it showcases the lives of the elite individuals who resided here.

Huis Bergh Castle

One of the biggest castles in the Netherlands, the stone fortification at Huis Bergh has 13th-century origins. Owned by the Bergh family for much of its history, the castle was heavily damaged by a 1735 fire, resulting in an 18th-century rebuilding project. The industrialist Jan Herman van Heek bought the castle in the early 20th century and used it to showcase his impressive collection of early modern paintings, sculptures, medieval manuscripts, and coins. Today’s visitors can enjoy this collection in the castle’s impressive moated surroundings.

Kasteel de Haar

This is largest and perhaps most impressive castle in the Netherlands, one that cultivates a strong fairy tale aesthetic. De Haar Castle in its current form was built in 1892, the work of Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers, who designed it in a striking Neo-Gothic style. The castle had several predecessors, however, the oldest of which was a structure dating back to the 13th century. Outside the castle itself are a series of gardens and an area of parkland. The castle remains in the hands of the Van Zuylen family although is open to visitors.

Loo Palace

The Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn was established late in the 17th century by Willem of Orange and Princess Mary, who then extended it upon becoming joint monarchs of England. Given its grandiosity, it unsurprisingly continued as a residence of the Dutch royal family into the 18th century. In 1795, the French invaded and plundered the palace while in 1806 it became home of the newly appointed Dutch king, Louis Napoleon, who had a new romantic landscape garden set out. Vacated by the royal family in 1977, it became a heritage attraction.

Muiderslot - Muiden Castle

Known in Dutch as Muiderslot, Muiden Castle has a history stretching back to the 13th century, although was largely rebuilt in the 14th. In the 17th century, the castle was a comfortable elite residence, with gardens set out in the latest fashions. It was at this point that the poet and writer P.C. Hooft lived here. In the 19th century, King William I ordered the renovation of the castle, preserving it from total collapse, with the architect Pierre Cuypers giving it its distinctive Neo-Gothic appearance. In 1878 it opened its doors to visitors.

Radboud Castle

Radboud Castle, which is also known as Kasteel Medemblik, started life in the 1280s. Its construction had been ordered by Floris V, Count of Holland, who intended it as one of a series of castles built to help quell rebellion among the West Frisians. Over the course of the Middle Ages, the castle would be attacked or besieged on several occasions but remained standing. In the 16th century the castle fell into ruin, and parts of it were later demolished, but a 19th-century restoration project saw it saved for future generations.

Rechteren Castle

Located near Dalfsen, Kasteel Rechteren arose in the early 14th century, the creation of Herman van Voorst, a knight who built it on the site of an earlier fortified farmhouse. Substantial expansion followed in the 15th century, after which Spanish troops occupied the property in the late 16th century. The 18th and 19th centuries saw various additions, many in the Neo-Gothic architectural style. Although the castle is still a private residence and not open to the public, the grounds welcome visitors on specific National Heritage Days.

Renswoude Castle

Renswoude Castle marked the location of a fortified house during the Late Middle Ages, but this was demolished in 1654. In its place, Johan van Reede ordered the construction of a new luxury home, built in the Dutch Classical Style. The house was damaged during the Second World War but underwent renovation in the 1960s and 1970s; further restorations followed a devastating 1985 fire. Visits to the house are only available as part of pre-arranged tours, usually held once a month. The landscaped parkland surrounding the house is free to visit.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Located on Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam, this national monument is but one of the palaces in the possession of the Dutch Royal House. Constructed during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, when it was intended as a city hall, the building was transformed into a palace by Louis Bonaparte, the King of Holland and brother of French Emperor Napoleon. The Palace of Amsterdam has since become an iconic national symbol and is still used for many state affairs, although visitors are also welcome to explore many of the most important rooms inside this heritage attraction.

Schaloen Castle

First recorded in 14th-century documents, Schaloen Castle remained in the same family for several generations before Louis of Nassau occupied it in 1574. Not long after, in 1575, Spanish troops demolished the castle, which was then rebuilt in the 17th century, with only a few Gothic elements surviving. In 1894, the Dutch architect P.H.J. Cuypers oversaw substantial renovations of the structure, resulting in its present Neo-Gothic appearance. Schaloen is now a private residence and hotel, offering visitors the rare opportunity to spend the night in a castle.