Walk around the Muiderslot, June 22, 2019.


Today I continued my 10-castle adventure, visiting the area around the famous Muiderslot castle.  It took about an hour to drive to the small town of Muiderberg for the start of the 6.5 mile loop hike.  After parking the car, I walked through a small park and reached the "Dijkweg" (dike road), which I would be walking on to reach the castle.  Walking on the dike was kind of fun, walking among the cows and avoiding their pies!  It also clearly showed the reason for the dikes, with the lake on the right being much higher than the land on the left of the dike.


Once I got close to the Castle, the route took me all the way around it to the main gate, which to my dismay was closed!  I tried to see if there was a way to get on to the grounds, in order to take some close up pictures of the castle, to no avail.  Aargh!!!!!  


The history of Muiden Castle begins with Count Floris V who built a stone castle at the mouth of the river in 1280, when he gained command over an area that used to be part of the Sea of Utrecht.  The Vecht river was the trade route to Utrecht, one of the most important trade towns of that age. The castle was used to enforce a toll on the traders. It is a relatively small castle, measuring 32 by 35 metres with brick walls well over 1.5 metres thick. A large moat surrounded the castle.


In 1296, Gerard van Velsen conspired together with Herman van Woerden, Gijsbrecht IV of Amstel, and several others to kidnap Floris V. The count was eventually imprisoned in Muiden Castle.  After Floris V attempted to escape, Gerard personally killed the count on the 27th of June 1296 by stabbing him 20 times. The alleged cause of the conflict between the nobles was the rape of Gerard van Velsen's wife by Floris. In 1297, the castle was conquered by Willem van Mechelen, the Archbishop of Utrecht, and by the year 1300 the castle was demolished. 


A hundred years later (ca. 1370-1386) the castle was rebuilt on the same spot based on the same plan, by Albert I, Duke of Bavaria, who at that time was also the Count of Holland and Zeeland. The next owner of the castle shows up in the 16th century, when P.C. Hooft (1581-1647), an author, poet and historian took over sheriff and bailiff duties for the area (Het Gooiland). For 39 years he spent his summers in the castle and invited friends, scholars, poets and painters such as Vondel, Huygens, Bredero and Maria Tesselschade Visscher, over for visits. This group became known as the Muiderkring.  He also extended the garden and the plum orchard, while at the same time an outer earthworks defense system was put into place. 


At the end of the 18th century, the castle was first used as a prison, then abandoned and became derelict. Further neglect caused it to be offered for sale in 1825, with the purpose of it being demolished. Only intervention by King William I prevented this. Another 70 years went by until enough money was gathered to restore the castle to its former glory.  Muiden Castle is currently a national museum (Rijksmuseum). The inside of the castle, its rooms and kitchens, was restored to look like they did in the 17th century and several of the rooms now house a collection of arms and armour.


Once I got over my disappointment, I walked through the town of Muiden, with its locks to control the water, and historic buildings.  On the other side of the town, I followed the uninspiring road back to the car.  Just before I reached the car, I noticed a very large cemetery with an interesting sign.  If anyone knows what it says, let me know!!