About De Haar Castle
Rich in stories
To visit De Haar Castle, whether to admire its park, its rich history, the exhibitions, gardens, deer or for a wedding, is to be immersed in a different world. Behind every door, every detail, every flower in its colourful gardens is a story. A story about earlier times, different cultures and interesting characters. De Haar is the largest castle in the Netherlands, once the private residence of the Van Zuylen family, whose descendants still stay here yearly. In the last century, the castle also frequently hosted members of the international jet set with their lavish lifestyle; from Coco Chanel to Roger Moore, they too left their mark on the sumptuous rooms of the most opulent spot in Utrecht.
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.