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Muiderslot Castle

The Coolest Castle in the Netherlands

Muiderslot Castle in Muiden, a one-hour journey by bus or bicycle from Amsterdam Central Station, was built around 1285 by Count Floris V of Holland to control access to Utrecht via the Vecht river. After three of his noblemen murdered Floris in 1296, the Bishop of Utrecht, who was annoyed by the toll at Muiden, destroyed the castle. Around 1370, seven Counts of Holland down the line, Duke Albrecht I of Bavaria rebuilt & expanded Muiderslot Castle, based on its original layout (⌘), because it was strategically positioned vis-à-vis the Duchy of Guelders. Today, owing to its drawbridge, bailey, towers & battlements, it’s the quintessential medieval moated castle, featuring everything you could possibly expect from a 14th-century stronghold.

Muiderslot Castle
Muiderslot Castle

The castle’s most prominent resident was the renowned poet, playwright & historian Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft (1581–1647), who moved in after he was appointed sheriff of Muiden & bailiff of Het Gooi in 1609. After he & his second wife married in 1627, they had the interior modernized according to the fashion of the day. Hooft also planted a plum orchard & a garden in Dutch classicist style, which supplied the castle with vegetables, fruit & herbs. In 1825, following the French occupation of the Netherlands, Muiderslot Castle was completely dilapidated and even came close to being demolished, but in 1878 it was converted to a museum instead. Since then, the building & its interior have been thoroughly renovated, making it the coolest castle in the country again.

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Not only was the castle restored to its 14th-century glory & does its interior look again like it did when P.C. Hooft was around, the orchard & garden were replanted as well. A well-known Dutch expression, Tot in de pruimentijd (‘Until plum time’), has its roots in the Muiderslot’s plum orchard: it’s how P.C. Hooft concluded his letters to his friends, inviting them to the castle when the plums would be ripening on the trees.


Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft may be regarded as the most brilliant representative of Dutch Renaissance literature, but he is far better known for having a street named after him: P.C. Hooftstraat in Amsterdam, the capital’s most expensive shopping street. The type of oversized SUVs double-parked here is referred to as P.C. Hooft Tractor throughout Holland. (He also had the P.C. Hooft Prize for Dutch literature named after him; because there are not that many Dutch literary authors, they all win the prize at some point in their lives.)


Jan Beerstraaten’s The Castle of Muiden in Winter at the National Gallery in London shows Muiderslot Castle from the north-east, accurate & atmospheric, although the artist has altered the arrangement of the landscape to suit the picture’s composition. In reality, the sea would appear behind the castle, but Beerstraaten needed the reflected light to pick out the front of the building & take the eye into the distance beyond.


If I may be so bold as to say so, I believe that Loevestein Castle in Poederoijen is equally as cool as the Muiderslot. Located in the immediate vicinity of nothing, Loevestein can easily be reached by ferry from Gorinchem (aka Gorkum) and Woudrichem (aka Woerkum).