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Couple in front of Muiderslot
Image from Muiderslot

Castles straight out of a fairy tale around Amsterdam

Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Amsterdam, you’ll find a land of historical fortresses, chivalric castles and country estates. Take a look at some of these impressive locations at which to unleash your inner knight, damsel or fairy-tale villain.

The mystical outpost: Naarden

Image from toerisme gooi en vecht

From the air, this ‘star fort’ town near Amsterdam resembles a gigantic snowflake. As a result of its distinctive shape, Naarden was used as a rallying point for Allied bombers during World War II, but we’re sure it could also work as a navigational tool for low-flying dragons.

Fairy tale points: 4/5. Magical and marvellous.

The happy ever after: Muiderslot

The Muiderslot is a medieval castle in the North Holland town of Muiden, built around 1285, restored to its former glory from 1370 and a national museum since 1878.
Image from Koen Dijkstra

Drawbridge, check. Towers, moat and battlements, check. So fairy tale it hurts, the pristine medieval castle of Muiderslot to the east of Amsterdam looks more like a Disney film set than a defence post. Rest assured it is the real deal; and the visitor centre at the castle has 700 years of historical evidence to prove it.

Fairy tale points: 5/5. Saddle up the white horse, we’re going in.

The secret lair: Fort Pampus

Pampus is a fortress island in the part of the IJmeer that belongs to the municipality of Gooise Meren. The artificial island was constructed in 1887 as part of the Defense Line of Amsterdam to defend the shipping channel Pampus against attacks from the Zuiderzee
Image from Samuel van Leeuwen

Seen across the water, the small island of Pampus looks like any other island. But take a closer look and you’ll see this is no natural land mass at all, but a submerged sea fort built in the 1890s to protect Amsterdam from enemies. After a restoration in 2007, you can now visit Fort Pampus by boat and explore its secret tunnels - and it’s also a popular location for events.

Fairy tale points:  4/5. *evil villain laugh*

The new romantic: De Haar Castle

Image from Ryan Beck CC flickr

A serious contender with Muiderslot for the most fairy tale location in the Netherlands, the magnificently romantic De Haar Castle near Utrecht has been in existence since the 14th century but got its current turrets-and-towers look in the 19th century, at the hands of famous Rijksmuseum architect Pierre Cuypers.  

Fairy tale points: 5/5. Prince Charming luxe.

The fairy tale town: Weesp

Canal in Weesp
Image from Koen Smilde

Like stepping back in time to days of yore, the quaint river town of Weesp oozes olde world charm with church steeples, a historic fort, a row of old windmills and a good choice of waterside cafes. Because even Cinderella needs to relax with a beer in the sun from time to time.

Fairy tale points: 3/5. Lacking only in singing townspeople.