Deep in the heart of the Dutch countryside, in a place surrounded by sheep and flat farmland, the Kasteel Duivenvoorde is all brick splendor, carved façades, and landscaped gardens. And with roots dating all the way back to the 13th-century, this typically European castle makes for the perfect historic day trip from The Hague or Leiden.
The haze of dusk was drawing in as we peddled our way through the flatlands. Either side of us, mist tendrils curled into layers, settling above the iconic canals which are so synonymous with The Netherlands. Above us, the dying sun painted the sky in an array of pastels, while behind us, one of the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands rapidly faded from view…
A quick history of Kasteel Duivenvoorde
The original Duivenvoorde Castle was first built at some point in the Middle Ages and was a square-shaped fortified building. Its first documentation was in 1226, thus ensuring its place as one of the oldest fortifications in this part of the Netherlands. However, by the time the 1600s rolled around, defenses were no longer a top priority in comparison with a rapidly growing need for space.
The castle was expanded and vast wings were added either side of the original structure. As such, most of what you see today dates back to the 17th-century. What is most unusual about this castle is that it has never been sold, instead remaining in the same family for generation upon generation.
In order to maintain this link, the castle has been passed down both patrilineal and matrilineal lines. The castle is named for the surname of the first family to inhabit the castle. In more recent times, the last private owner of the castle, a certain Jonkvrouwe Ludolphine Henriette, Baroness Schimmelpenninck van der Oye realised that upon her death, the castle would likely be sold and its contents split up.
So as to ensure the continuation of the castle, a trust and foundation was set up to maintain the castle, as well as ensure its continued restoration. While the South Wing of the castle remains inhabited, the rest of the Kasteel is still cared for by The Duivenvoorde Foundation.
Things to see at Kasteel Duivenvoorde
The Castle: Available to see via guided tour only, the interior of the castle is still inhabited and features of the open-to-the-public part include an impressive selection of Delftware, Chinese porcelain, original furniture, and countless family portraits.
The park: For just €1 it’s possible to wander around the castle grounds, spying the castle’s reflection on the shimmering lake and wander through a magnolia garden. In order to make the most of your time in the English style gardens (and snap plenty of photos), I recommend dedicating around an hour to exploring the castle’s grounds.
Café and restaurant: Due to the castle’s remote nature, I recommend bringing a picnic, or doing as we did and bringing some extra funds along to make the most of the castle’s café. Once inside (or outside on the terrace, weather permitting), there’s table service and a variety of hot meals, cold snacks, cakes, cool drinks, warm beverages, and alcoholic drinks to choose from.
How to visit Kasteel Duivenvoorde
Address | Kasteel Duivenvoorde Laan van Duivenvoorde 4, Voorschoten
The Kasteel can be found on the outskirts of the pleasant town of Voorschoten in the Zuid Holland region of the Netherlands. Rather small in size, this quintessentially Dutch town is home to highlights such as a large central brick church, the St Laurentius Church, and several beautiful houses.
Voorschoten’s train station is pretty well-linked to nearby cities, and it’s easy to reach from either The Hague or Leiden. Otherwise, it’s perfectly possible to visit the castle via bicycle. This is especially true during the late spring, summer, or early autumn when the sun is shining down and daylight hours remain long.
Located around 10 km from The Hague city centre, it’s a pleasant cycle ride through the Dutch countryside, passing through sheep fields, farmland, and the like. Midway between The Hague and the University City of Leiden, you can easily visit the castle as a day trip from the Hague.
If you want to see inside the castle itself, then you should bear in mind that tours cost over €12 and are only available in Dutch unless another language is requested. As such, we opted to simply admire the castle from its imposing exterior. Note that to pay for everything at the castle, it’s card only (yes, even for the €1 fee for the garden!)
With the museum card, touring the castle is free. Before visiting the castle, however, be sure to check it’s actually open! As Kasteel Duivenvoorde is still a private residence, it’s closed on certain days throughout the week and only open seasonally during the year.