Last time we traveled to The Netherlands, we visited Slot Zuylen castle which is located just outside the city of Utrecht. It is built along the river Vecht at the southern end of the Vechtstreek.
There are many castles in The Netherlands but you can't see them from the road as everything here is so flat. It's very different to the castles that we visit in other European countries as they are mainly on top of hills or mountains. Here they are hidden behind the trees🙂
The construction of Slot Zuylen dates back to 1250 and it was built by lord van Suilen en Anholt as a simple square residential tower with thick walls. It was destroyed at the beginning of the 15th century and left to decay. Willem van Rennenberg had the castle rebuilt at the beginning of the 16th century and from that time it changed its owners many times. The Slot Zuylen foundation was founded in 1952. It's aim is to preserve the castle for future generations.
The castle got its current 'U-shape' appearance in the 18th century. The shape can be seen here. The main entrance door was moved to the middle of the castle, the left wing was added and people didn't have to go from one room to another as the gallery was built in front of the castle. It must have been a large project to complete!
When we planned our visit we didn't know that there would be a market with many stands and various products. This was a nice surprise! There was live music, food, dancing performances and great atmosphere overall.
We purchased our tickets (13 EUR per person) and went to the castle gardens before our guided tour.
Slot Zuylen has always been a water castle. Even the square residential tower in the 13th century stood on a moat site and there are still many canals surrounding the area. The structure of the canals remained the determining factor for successive garden designs for centuries.
Early October is not the best time to visit the gardens but there are still some plants and colors and you can see the castle from different angles.
The oldest garden plan is from 1624. It shows the vegetable garden and some orchards. It wasn't as big as it is today.
The most important construction in the garden is the 120 meters long snake wall. It is one of the longest and best preserved snake walls in The Netherlands. I do not have a photo of it as it was hidden behind thick bushes. In my opinion, it definitely requires some maintenance.
In the past, the canal was running around entire castle. In the 18th century, a part of it was filled with sand which created a spacious forecourt. This is where the entrance is now.
This was my favorite part of the gardens. The current appearance largely corresponds to the garden that was here in the 19th century.
There is also a guided tour of the gardens but we wanted to enjoy them alone and at our own pace.
Let's go inside of the castle now!
Almost all pieces of furniture, paintings and utensils in the castle are original. When you enter the castle you feel like you entered someone's home.
The front part of the building was added in the 18th century. This is the gallery that allowed people to go comfortably from one room to another without actually entering the rooms.
There are many painting in the hall and the cupboards are full with Chinese porcelain and glassware.
From here we enter the library on the right side and the kitchen on the left side. As I have already mentioned, the castle had various owners. Each owner enjoyed different genre of literature and spoke different languages. They brought their own collections to the castle, so today we can find here an interesting mixture of books from various periods.
In the past, this room used to serve (together with the library) as an apartment of Mrs. Zuylen. It was used especially in winter because of its size as small rooms are easier to keep warm. The last owner rebuilt this room into his office.
There are nine impressive life sized portraits decorating the walls of the dining room.These are members of the Van Tuyll van Serooskerken family.
The interior of this room hasn't changed much from the 19th century. Our guide told us that it looks more less the same. The table is beautifully set with porcelain service and it looks ready for dinner. Or doesn't it? If you look carefully you will notice that there is no cutlery on the table. When the last family left the castle they took it as a memory of their life here.
The most important room in the castle is the gobelin room. The tapestry on the walls was designed by Maximiliaan van der Gught in the 17th century. The carpet has 75 sqm and it took one person one year to create 1 sqm of this artwork. It must have cost them a fortune at that time! Not only because of the work and time but also because of the colors that were used. They were very expensive at that time.
The chandeliers and mirrors come from the 19th century and everything is designed in the way that makes the space appear larger.
Nowadays, this room is used for wedding ceremonies.
There are a few more rooms in the castle but the last one that I would like to show you is the guest bedroom.
This room was specially designed for quests who were staying for long time (even months) because of their difficult or long journey. This bed could be split into two in case that the room was shared by two people who were not a couple.
There is a crib and a diapers dryer in the room too, so it was suitable for kids as well.
I hope you have enjoyed our tour of Slot Zuylen!
Thank you for reading!