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Amster-done? Visit a castle
In my last Amster-done? post I talked about taking a day trip to the beautiful city of Delft. Today I'm featuring two medieval castles far from the noise and pungent smells of Amsterdam, but still less than an hour away by public transport.
Muider Castle, known to the locals as Muiderslot, is a twenty minute bus ride from Amsterdam's Amstel station. Get off at the stop for Muiden and take a short walk through a park, then the village of Muiden, and along a harbor where you'll see the castle in the distance.
It's a pretty sight. This castle was founded around the year 1285 to protect Muiden harbor. It was expanded over the years and now appears much as it did when major building was completed in 1450. There's a peaceful garden off to one side, and an open area where falconry demonstrations are held. If you've never seen a falcon doing its stuff, this alone is enough to make you glad you came. These regal birds are amazingly quick and well-trained, and can pluck a bit of meat out of their trainer's hand while swooping past at blinding speed.
The interior of the castle is made up like it was in the olden days, with chambers for the lord and lady, an armoury for the soldiers, a creepy dungeon for people who use their cell phones in restaurants, and even some primitive privies. The privies are noticeably lacking in the dungeon. Serves them right.
The Castle de Haar (Kasteel de Haar in Dutch) is another fine relic of the bad old days. If you don't have a car, the easiest way to get there is to take a train or bus to Utrecht Centraal Station and then take bus 127 in the direction of Breukelen/Kockengen to the "Brink" stop at Haarzuilens. It's only a 15 minute walk at that point.
This is one of the most attractive castles I've seen in Europe. It was built sometime before 1391 and expanded in the following century before falling into disrepair. A massive restoration project of the castle and nearby town brought it back to its former glory. Around the castle is a large baroque garden filled with flowers and dotted with ponds, perfect for snuggling with that special travel companion.
Both of these castles make for a fun, easy day trip from Amsterdam, and their close enough that you can be back in time for the nightlife.
Do you have a favorite day trip from Amsterdam? Post a comment!