I’ve always felt that if you’re going to go to Europe, not only do you have to immerse yourself in the culture, eat all the wonderful food – but you also have to absorb the history. And the best way to do that is to visit historical places. With this in mind during our trip to Holland, Hubs, Bae and I went to visit Muiderslot – a castle located at the mouth of the river Vecht, about 10 miles outside of Amsterdam.

Muiderslot castle Netherlands Holland livebysurprise
Muiderslot – August 2014

The castle has a colorful history – it was originally built in the year 1280 as the home of Count Floris V who had command of that area. The castle was used to enforce a toll on traders. The castle is on the smaller side, and surrounded by a large moat. The castle was conquered by the Archbishop of Utrecht and razed to the ground by the year 1300.

Muiderslot – August 2014

The castle was rebuilt around 1370 on the same spot and using the same architectural plans by the Duke of Bavaria, Albert the First.

It was later inhabited in the 16th century by the famous Dutch author and poet P.C. Hooft, who was the sheriff for the area. He lived here for 39 years, and the castle became a retreat for scholars, poets and artists. An extensive garden was built outside the castle with a plum orchard.

By the 18th century, the castle was abandoned and became derelict. It was to be demolished in 1825, when King William intervened. Another 70 years passed before enough money was collected to restore the castle into what you can see today.

The castle has been converted in to a Royal museum (Rijksmuseum). The rooms have been restored to what they looked like in the 17th century. Several of the rooms have a wonderful collection of armour and antique furniture.

If your knees can handle it, you can climb up narrow stone staircases to the top of the towers to look across the moat to the river. We made our way across the parapets to look into the courtyard.

Muiderslot – August 2014
At the base of one of the towers, we had a peek into the “keep” or jail – where they had graphic descriptions of the “eye for an eye” punishments for various crimes.

We took a guided tour of the inside rooms – including the kitchen, the great hall and the bed chamber. The tour was unfortunately only available in Dutch, but written English translations were provided.

There were numerous children’s activities, including a dress up room (where you could dress like a knight, a jester or the lady of the house), a jousting station (where you could “ride” a horse and attempt to beat your opponent), a large museum shop with lots of fun and interesting items, and a tavern, with reasonably priced fare, in case you got hungry.

Mudierslot involved a little too much climbing for me – but it’s a great place for learning history – if you have the chance to visit – especially if you have children, I would recommend it.

We’ve been having tons of fun in the Netherlands – our trip is almost complete. Read all about our adventures.

Check back on Wednesday when I sum up our tour and tell you what I enjoyed the most about our trip!

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