Amsterdam Muiderslot Castle


Under the shadow of the beautiful city of Amsterdam, at the Vecht river mouth, sits Muiderslot Castle, one of the oldest and best preserved medieval castles in the Netherlands and best kept secret. A real castle, with a moat, a drawbridge, towers, battlements and arrow slits. The castle is over 700 years old and surrounded by water and beautiful historical gardens. 

In the thirteenth century there was probably a toll house at the location where the castle was built by Floris V, Count of Holland and Zeeland. Floris turned the toll house into a square castle with a tower on every corner and controlled the Vecht river estuary.  By means of a chain over the river Vecht, Floris was able to levy toll on passing ships. After Floris was murdered, the castle was demolished down to its foundations. Seventy years later, in 1370, the castle was rebuilt on the same foundations and expanded with the residential wing on the Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) side. The castle was reinforced in 1576 with earthen ramparts and bastions. 

In 1609 the writer and poet Pieter Cornelisz Hooft (‘the Dutch Shakespeare’) moved in. He was named Drost van Muiden and Bailiff of the Gooiland and in that position he lived at Muiderslot for 38 years. As the son of the mayor of Amsterdam, he was used to the hustle and bustle of the city and it was too quiet for him at the castle. But his friends visited him and that often ended in literary and musical evenings. The greatest names from the 17th-century cultural elite, including Roemer Visscher, Maria Tesselschade, Joost van den Vondel, Constantijn Huygens and Gerbrand Bredero, joined at Muiderslot to make music, write poems and discuss politics, philosophy and art. They became known as the ‘Muiderkring’. 

Since 1795 the castle fell into deterioration and in the 19th century it was nominated for demolition. For decades it was used by the Ministry of War and instead of demolishing the castle just like numerous other valuable monuments, a major restoration of the castle started. Since 1878 Muiderslot Castle is a national museum. 

The castle’s beautiful, historical gardens still look the same as in the 17th century. A covered berceau walk separates the vegetable garden, with forgotten vegetables from earlier times, from the herb garden, with herbs for the kitchen, for medicinal purposes, for making dyes and for decoration. Behind the castle is the plum orchard, which was a source of inspiration and joy for Hooft. 

Next to the plum orchard, behind the castle, is the Water Shield pavilion. The largely submerged pavilion is a combination of an exhibition and reception area and the roof looks like a shield that has been partially lifted, a reference to Floris V.

The pavilion illustrates the important part the castle played for seven centuries in protecting the country against water and as part of a line of defences against foreign invaders, the Dutch Waterline. In fact, the castle was a cornerstone of four water defence lines: the Old and New Waterline, the Defence Line of Amsterdam (Stelling van Amsterdam, UNESCO), and the Utrecht Waterline.

Every season Muiderslot sits in a different setting. Visit the castle when the plum orchard is in bloom, in the summer when the gardens are in bloom, or in the winter when the castle is beautifully lit up. Muiderslot Castle can be visited all year around. Join Tulip Day Tours for an authentic castle experience! We offer both private tours with pick-up from any address in the region and small public group tours departing from Amsterdam to the castle.