Out of over 2.000 castles that The Netherlands once had, we have only about 300 left. The most famous one being Het Muiderslot. Muiden is the town it stands at, and slot is in Dutch, another word for Kasteel, which corresponds to the English word castle. Slot literally means “lock.” Muiden lies, like Volendam on her Ijsselmeer, not far from Amsterdam but in the other direction. It’s a proper medieval castle; it has four towers, a moat and a draw bridge. Who actually build the place remain a bit of a mystery. The popular story is that Count Floris the fifth, count of Holland, had it constructed, but there are reasons to assume this to be untrue. He may have bought it.
This medieval castle is a national museum; it was build before the year 1285.
It is surrounded by herbal and vegetable gardens. As we just said, Floris may not have built it, but why do we want to hold to that position?
consider the following reasons:
* he already had five other castles in far better areas
* he never lived there and only used it as a tollhouse
* building a castle was an expensive enterprise, and there was little material at hand
* he had an important associate of him living there
* the castle was strategically vulnerable; it was approachable from both over land and sea
* the more probable owner was the bishop of Utrecht, who, when short for cash, rented it out or sold it to Floris
Floris the fifth was not particularly popular; he was an ambitious man who made a name for himself and gained as much land as possible. For this, he needed money, and the toll was one way of getting it. That’s what the castle was for; it lies at the mouth of the river Vecht. Any ships wanting to pass by were stopped by a large, heavy chain, and if they wanted to continue on their journey, they had to fork out some cash.
The castle did not really bring Floris a lot of good fortune. On the 27th of June 1296, Floris was taken captive and held there. He tried to escape but was killed by his own armour bearer Gerard of Velzen.
Destroyed and rebuild or not?
Another remarkable speculation is that it was destroyed and then rebuild. And that’s another story that’s hard to make true.
The rampart was built around 1577. its purpose was to close down the dike along the (then) sea and the canal to Naarden.
The castle’s interior also has not stood the test of time; there was always something going on with the place until it got its most famous occupant, Mr P.C. Hooft. The furniture, the utensils and the paintings present at the building all date back to his day.
Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft lived from 1581 until 1647 and was a historian, poet, and playwright.
The castle continues to amaze; it was once a prison, an armoury, and was twice demolished. The royal family prevented that.
Rijksmuseum Muiderslot foundation
1398 AA Muiden
Phone: 0294-256262 (9.00 – 13.00 hours)
The castle is easy to get to; go down the A1 motorway in the direction of Amersfoort. Take the Muiden exit.
You can also take the train, also in the direction of Amersfoort. It’s about a fifteen-minute ride.
The place can be used as a wedding venue as well.