De Haar Castle is the biggest and most luxurious castle in The Netherlands. It is one of the top European historic houses. A visit to De Haar Castle will take you back to the glory days of the castle and will show you the breathtaking splendour that surrounded the international rich and famous in the early 20th century. You will be amazed at the very un-Dutch luxury in which the Van Zuylen family and their guests lived amidst a wealth of history and art.
Few castles in The Netherlands can equal De Haar for its ideal image of a medieval fortress with towers and ramparts, moats, gates and drawbridges. Like a real fairy-tale castle it rises majestically from parkland with impressive trees, old gardens and ponds. The castle is situated in the centre of The Netherlands, near Utrecht, and is easy to reach by car. There is ample parking space.
De Haar Castle ranks among the top twenty most visited Dutch museums. It is a historic monument alive with year-round activities such as guided tours (for adults and for children), exhibitions, theatre and events. De Haar Castle is a private foundation and does not receive any regular subsidies from local or central government. The foundation is a non-profit organisation and depends entirely on its revenues from ticket sales, activities and events.
For over a century it has been tradition for the Van Zuylen van Nijevelt van de Haar family to reside in the castle for one month a year, in September. The tradition centres around entertaining prominent international guests at lavish house parties hosted by the baron and baroness. Famous guests included Coco Chanel, Maria Callas, Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, Yves Saint Laurent, Joan Collins and Brigitte Bardot.
The medieval House De Haar dates from the 13th century. It fell into disrepair in the 18th and 19th centuries. Architect Pierre Cuypers (famous for his designs of the Rijksmuseum and the Central Station in Amsterdam) restored and rebuilt De Haar for baron Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt van de Haar. The rebuilding took from 1892 till 1912 and was a project unique of its kind in all of Europe.
Cuypers’ grand design included not just the architecture of the castle but also the interiors, the gardens, the chapel and even the village of Haarzuilens. Without exaggeration the whole can be described as a Gesamtkunstwerk. Cuypers has created a unique, special world: an enchanting oasis of harmony and peace.
The park and gardens surrounding De Haar Castle - covering over 135 acres of land - are worth a visit in their own right. The Rose Garden, the Roman Garden, the ponds and canals, as well as the many bridges, romantic vistas and impressive avenues invite visitors to go on long walks or have a picnic. Each season in the park has its own charm.