Muiderslot, the finest medieval castle in the Netherlands
In Muiden, about fifteen kilometers southeast of Amsterdam, stands the impressive Muiden Castle (Muiderslot in Dutch). It is one of the best-known medieval castles in the Netherlands and also one of the best preserved. It was built on a strategic location at the mouth of the Vecht river, to enforce a toll on passing merchants. Today, the castle functions as a national museum, which means is it owned and operated by the state.
Count Floris V built the castle around 1285, but it was demolished shortly afterwards, after Floris V was murdered (he allegedly raped his murderer’s wife). In 1370, the castle was rebuilt in its original state.
|Picture: Entrance Muiderslot||Picture: Muiderslot castle|
P.C. Hooft, a famous Dutch author and poet, became the owner of the Muiderslot in the sixteenth century when he served as sheriff for the region. He invited some of his famous author friends to stay with him at the castle during the summer, and the group became known as the Muiderkring (Muiden Circle).
In later years, the castle was used as a prison and in 1825 it was supposed to be demolished after years of neglect. King William I prevented this however, and the castle was restored.
The castle has a large moat all around it, with fortification structures surrounding the moat. There are four towers, one on each corner. The western tower is the oldest, tallest and most skewed tower of the castle. It is so skewed due to sagging, and at one point it was feared that the tower might break off entirely. A corset made of cement was placed around the castle to prevent any more sagging, but the tower still leans considerably.
|Picture: Muiderslot garden||Picture: Muiderslot castle inside|
All the rooms in the current museum are decorated like they were in seventeenth century, to give visitors an idea of what it was like to stay in the castle during those days. At the top of the gate tower are tree openings, which are called “murder holes”. They were used when the castle had to be defended during an enemy invasion, by pouring hot or heavy substances and objects through the holes, onto the unsuspecting invaders standing at the gate. The Muiderslot is the only castle in the Netherlands with such murder holes.
The museum is divided in three separate collections: a collection of medieval objects from the early days of the castle, a collection of art and objects from the time P.C. Hooft lived at the castle, and a collection of art that features the Muiderslot.
|Picture: Muiderpoort castle bed||Picture: Medieval harnasses|
The Muiderslot is open to visitors every weekend from 12.00 – 17.00 year round, and during the summer season (april – october) the castle is also open on weekdays from 10.00 – 17.00. A regular ticket costs € 13.50. Some of the Amsterdam city passes include free admission to the castle.
You can take the train from Amsterdam or Utrecht central station to Weesp, and from there, take the 110 bus to Brandweerkazerne Muiden. It’s a ten minute walk from the bus stop to the Muiderslot.
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