Dungeons, Falcons and Jousting - all 15 minutes from Amsterdam.

Muiden Travel Blog

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After a nice visit at Kinderdijk we were back in the car and off to Muiden to see the fortress at the mouth of the River Vecht, Muiderslot was built in 1280 by Floris V. 

 

We started the day at the destination farther from home, so it took about one and half hours to drive back to Muiderslot.  When Rob was setting the TomTom we were both surprised that the castle is on the Herengracht just like our own the canal that we live on in Amsterdam.

  Rob had told me to spell the name for him with asking what the name was.  When I did he gave me a strange look and we had a nice laugh.  At one point traffic was a little backed-up so we stopped for Rob to get food.  I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a protein bar so I was fine.  After a quick stop we were on our way.  The traffic was on and off being backed-up.  But we did make good time.

 

When we turned off the highway to go to the castle we expected it to be set away from the town.  We were shocked to be driving down a tiny, old residential street in town.  I was getting worried that Tom had steered us wrong when Rob said there it is.  I looked up and saw the towers of the castle ahead.

  We made our way along the narrow and windy street along the river.  When we got to the parking area, there was only street parking along the dijk and a parking lot.  At first Rob put the car in the lot.  Then he studied a sign for a minute and decided he should move it because it said something about permit parking.  He moved the car to a safe zone and bought the parking ticket.

 

On to the castle.  We decided to buy the museum card again to get in.  It is a great deal in The Netherlands.  It is just 40 Euros a year and you get into all over 100 museums all over the country.

  The admission was 11 euros so we already made a dent in paying for the card.

 

When we turned to enter, we were faced with a fairytale castle.  It has four towers, a moat and drawbridge and the crenellations around the top.  It was like someone opened the storybook and pulled it out life sized.  There are actually two moats; we had crossed one as we entered.  Across from the front of the castle are the gardens.  They are a mixture of beauty and functionality. Well landscaped and having walkways bordered with hedges, the bed are a mixture so flowers and vegetables.  It is all very practical.   They could grow food for the castle and enjoy a nice garden and by having it outside the walls save valuable space inside.

 

Once we crossed the drawbridge, we entered a central courtyard.

  In the center was a lovely wrought-iron structure covering a well.  In one corner tables and chairs were set-up outside a café.  There were quite a few children running around.  There was a tour of one of the wings, but it was in Dutch se we chose to explore on our own.  Rob’s doing better with Dutch, but still isn’t comfortable and I would have been lost.

 

We started our tour in the dungeon, which was pretty small. It was in a small round room with stocks and chains. Some kids were playing there when we went down.

 

Next we went on the Ridderroute (Knight’s Route) up the West Tower, which is the highest of the towers.  In the rooms on the way they have done a good job of providing interesting interactive activities for kids.  Children can get a passport type book and in the different room they press a seal in wax to show where they have been.

  When we reached the top of the tower Rob was fascinated by the roof structure.  He is reading “Pillars of the Earth” and has just finished a section describing a roof structure.

 

There was a nice display around one side of the room telling about the different towns in the area and their relationship to the castle.  The views out of the windows across the fields or water were nice, but not spectacular.

 

We went downstairs to a large room. They had costumes set-up on forms so you could put your face and arms in and take pictures.  There were also customs for kids to dress up as knights and ladies.  Rob had to try out a couple of the costumes.  He was too cute as a jester.  Next we went to the armory.  They had a couple of cool displays.  One was many different types of armor helmets you could look through.

  Another was a jousting game where two people sit on forms with saddles and bounce up and down to make the game horses run.  Rob and I had to try that one. We didn’t do a great job of jousting but, it was pretty cool.

 

From the armory it was down and back to the courtyard.  There was a woman doing a falconry exhibition. The only other time I’ve seen falconry was at Buda Castle. It was interesting and the kids were fascinated.  We really couldn’t understand anything so we headed to the Torenroute (Tower Route).  This took us up through the first three towers. On the first floor of the tower was an exhibition of photographs showing the castle at different periods in time.  It was used as a school at one point and there were shot of it when it first became a museum.  One interesting thing about the stairs is they used wooden steps fitted into the stones.

  This was so they could replace the steps when they started to wear too much.  It made for easier maintenance.

 

Further up in the towers was the chapel which has been converted to use as a theater.  They show educational films about the castle. Next to that is the library for the family.  In between the two was the toilet.  In castle they were put in the outside wall to allow the waste to drop into the moat. This meant the moat was a breeding ground for bacteria and disease. 

 

Upward once again we were in a defensive room. Here they had weapons to shoot at enemies outside.  They also had the welcome holes where they could pour hot oil or other liquids on people trying to gain entrance to the castle, talk about a warm welcome.  From here we had access to the battlements.

  This gave us a great view of the courtyard from above.  There was a group of little boys all dressed as knight with shields and swords below.    On the other side we could see the gardens from above.  We walked around and I got a few detail shots and some black birds were hanging out in a tree posing.

 

Going into the last tower we could assess, we headed back down to the courtyard.  On the way we passed a privy, which is an outdoor toilet in the wall of the castle.  There are five of them accessible in the courtyard.  Like the other it drops the waste into the moat.  In the winter when the moat froze over they would cover the waste with hay.

 

Back in the courtyard we decided it was time to head home.  We crossed back over the drawbridge and got some exterior pictures.

It is a small but fairytale like place, a must for the kids and anyone with a love of castles.

 

We returned to the car and made our way back to Amsterdam. Even though it was a bit simple in comparison to many of the other castles that I’ve seen, there is uniqueness to it as it is in The Netherlands. It’s not something you normally see in this landscape.

 

I have and continue to travel anywhere and everywhere I can point to on the globe (that fits into my monthly budget). I am also making a commitment to enjoy more of what my home of now 2 1/2 years. It's a beautiful country and deserved dicovery, by me!

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photo by: jorisnow