Saturday, June 2, 2012

Muiderslot Castle - The Netherlands

Number nine on my top ten list of things to see and do in The Netherlands is Muiderslot Castle, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Located about 15 kilometers southeast of Amsterdam, the castle is one of the most popular middle-age castles in the country, and several movies and television shows have been filmed on its grounds.

With an honest-to-goodness moat surrounding it, several rooms in the castle have been restored and outfitted to look just as they would have been during the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age. If you ever wanted to step back into history to catch a glimpse -- this is the place to do it.

The castle's foundations date back to 1285 -- staggeringly old to an American such as myself -- and has had quite an amazing past. First built by Count Floris V (nicknamed "God of the Peasants") he was considered one of the most important figures of the native Dutch dynasty which lasted from 833-1299. He allied himself closely with King Edward I of England and even encouraged his son to court an English princess. However, when he later transferred his allegiance to Phillip IV of France, noblemen under the influence of Edward took him prisoner and when the common people of Muiden would not allow Floris to be taken away to England, he was executed in his own castle in June of 1296. Many songs, stories and plays were written about his death.

Later in 1609 the castle's most famous occupant came into residence -- P.C. Hooft. Living in the fortress for 38 years, the famous author known as "the Dutch Shakespeare" wrote poems, novels, sonnets, and letters during his time in the castle that remain an important past of Dutch heritage even to this day. As an aspiring author, I can appreciate the source of inspiration the views from the castle windows must have provided towards some of his better works.
Frequently the castle is the site of plays, concerts, and a popular place for weddings. On June 16th, there will be a performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night but due to overwhelming demand, all tickets have been sold out.
If you ever find yourself in Holland and would like to see a real slice of life from centuries in the past, make a trip out to Muiderslot -- you'll be glad you did!

More information about Muiderslot Castle including opening times can be found at:

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