Day 4. Muiderslot Castle & Singer Laren Museum, Amsterdam

We’d slept like logs in our comfortable bed at the Vesting Hotel, Naarden and what a treat there was in store for us down in the restaurant.  Rather than a buffet, guests are served their own breakfast platters complete with freshly baked bread and pastries.  The boiled eggs were deliciously soft, the cappuccinos brewed to perfection and it was the best possible way to start our day.

Vesting Hotel Breakfast, Naarden
Our delicious breakfast spread

Singer Laren Museum, Laren

Our plan for the morning was to visit the Singer Laren Museum (standard admission €17) in the nearby small town of Laren and we arranged a taxi for the short 15 minute journey.  For those visitors planning to visit Laren on a day trip from Amsterdam it’s possible by taking a train from Central Station to Hilversum followed by a short bus ride to the centre of Laren.  ARTT tickets offer good value for regional travel at €19.50 for 24 hours with longer periods also available.

Singer Laren Museum, Laren
The Singer Laren Museum

Laren is part of the Het Gooi region of the Netherlands noted for its spectacular landscapes and starting out as a farming village it became a base for artists from around the world during the 19th and 20th centuries.  The biggest reminder of this is the Singer Laren museum which was originally a villa built at the beginning of the last century by the American couple Anna and William Singer.  The villa was called De Wilde Zwanen (wild swans) and whilst living there, the couple amassed an impressive art collection and received visits from many artists.

Singer Laren Museum
Viewing the galleries

After William’s death, Anna founded the Singer Memorial Foundation and added a museum and theatre to the villa which opened in 1956.  The Singer Laren museum has recently expanded following the donation of a private collection and includes works from the period 1880-1950 by French painters, focussing on modernism and of artists who have painted landscapes in Laren and the surrounding area.  In addition to paintings and sketches the museum boasts seven works by the French sculptor Augusta Rodin.

Exhibition at the SInger Laren Museum in Laren
Viewing the artwork

It’s new sculpture garden was designed by Piet Oudolf, the internationally renowned architect who designed New York City’s High Line.  The garden is decorated with sculptures connecting art to nature and has an attractive cafe terrace and a conservatory featuring artwork.

The Singer Laren Sculpture Garden
The Singer Laren Sculpture Garden

The museum also has a beautiful cafe/restaurant where we enjoyed our morning cups of coffee, a large gift shop and temporary exhibition galleries.

The Cafe/ Restaurant at the Singer Museum Laren
The museum’s cafe/restaurant

Leaving the museum we explored the centre of Laren.  The small town has much to offer with its charming tree lined streets lined with galleries, boutiques, cafes and restaurants.  Wandering around, it was easy to see why it inspired so many artists through the ages.  An artistic trail is currently being developed with information boards to be positioned where some of the landscapes were painted.

Laren town centre, The Netherlands
Exploring the centre of Laren

Along leafy lanes there were many beautiful homes partially secluded by the trees some of them with thatched roofs and all of them idyllic places to live.

Laren town centre
Laren’s attractive town centre

Unfortunately, some dark clouds formed overhead and we encountered our only rain shower of the trip as we followed a path through scenic heathland at the edge of the town.

Attractive homes in Laren, The Netherlands
Attractive homes in Laren

However, despite the gloom we’d enjoyed our visit to both the museum and the little town and I would definitely recommend a visit.

Heathland surrounding Laren
Heathland surrounding Laren

Leaving Laren, we picked up another taxi for the 15 minute drive to Muiden as we wished to explore the town and its impressive castle.  If visiting Muiden as a day trip from Amsterdam then you can take the sprinter train to Weesp (16 minutes) followed by an hourly bus to Muiden (12 minutes).

Muiderslot Castle

Located just 16 km south east of Amsterdam, Muiderslot Castle was, along with Naarden, a key link in the Amsterdam Defence Line, a 135 km long fortification that once protected the capital from invaders.  This fairy-tale like castle with its characteristic round corner towers and moat is reputed to be the most famous medieval castle in the Netherlands.

Muiderslot Castle
Muiderslot Castle

The fortress stands at the mouth of the River Vecht and was founded by Floris V in 1280.  Shortly afterwards in 1296 the castle was destroyed and in 1380 a new castle was built on the ruins of the old one.  The castle was restored between 1895-1910 and over a century later remains in perfect condition.  Over the years it has seen life as a fortress, a private home and a prison before becoming a castle museum.  Standard entrance  to the museum is €16.50 and included in the IAmsterdam Card.

Muiderslot Castle, and drawbridge, Muiden
Muiderslot Castle and drawbridge

We approached the impressive castle over its drawbridge and on arrival collected audio guides included in the admission price.  It was explained that the castle tour was in two parts, the tower and the castle itself and after viewing one area we should return to get our audio guides re-configured for the other section.

Muiderslot Castle Round Tower
One of the Castle Round Towers

We opted to begin with the round tower tour which involved climbing quite a lot of narrow winding staircases but wasn’t difficult.  We used our audio guides at touch-in points to listen to short excerpts which provided us with useful background information of the part of the castle we were passing through.

Muiderslot Castle Drawbridge and Historic Garden
Views of the Castle Drawbridge and Historic Garden

There were good views from the tower look-out points as the dark clouds were giving way to sunlight.  From there we looked down on the drawbridge and moat and across to the pretty harbour of Muiden.

Muiderslot Castle central courtyard
The castle’s central courtyard

Moving on to the main part of the castle we viewed numerous galleries containing a collection of armour, weapons and utensils from the 13th century.  Other rooms were furnished as they would have been in the 17th century when the poet, writer and historian Pieter C. Hooft lived in the castle.  Adorning the walls were a beautiful collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age.

Muiderslot Castle self guided tour
Viewing the rooms in the main part of the castle

After exploring the castle interior we crossed the moat to take a stroll in the plum orchard and historic garden which has been landscaped in 17th century style.

Plum Orchard and historic garden, Muiderslot
The Plum Orchard and entrance to the historic garden

Before leaving, we then walked along a raised footpath through the castle grounds from where we enjoyed more splendid views of the fortress.  As there’s so much to see in the castle I would set aside a minimum of two hours for a visit.

Muiderslot Castle and Moat
Views from the castle grounds

Having glimpsed Muiden harbour from the castle we then walked alongside it admiring the boats moored there.  We passed the ferry that takes visitors out to Fort Pampus, a 19th century sea fort that was part of the waterline collection of forts.  Fort Pampus sits on an artificial island than can only be reached by boat.  The ferry departs hourly taking 20 minutes but the seasonal service had not started operating during our visit.

Muiden, The Netherlands
The pretty town of Muiden

The small town of Muiden is very attractive with its gable fronted houses overlooking the Vecht river.  Along there we sat out on a cafe terrace enjoying glasses of beer watching the bridge open and close allowing boats to pass through.

The riverfront in Muiden
Outdoor terraces line the waterfront in Muiden

After a little look around the town we then returned to our hotel in Naarden to collect our luggage before going on to Schiphol airport for our late evening flight home.

Muiden, Holland
The Vecht River, Muiden

The time had passed by much too quickly and we were sad to be leaving but still it was very pleasurable to enjoy a glass of fizz and a bite to eat in the KLM Crown Lounge before departure.

KLM Crown Lounge, Schiphol Airport
KLM Crown Lounge, Schiphol Airport

Our four days in Amsterdam and the surrounding area had been lovely and we’d enjoyed the contrast of spending part of the time in the city centre and the remainder exploring interesting places in the surrounding area.  I hope this series of posts might inspire you to follow in our footsteps and plan a trip to the Netherlands as it’s beautiful whatever the time of year.

During our visit, we were guests of I Amsterdam and all views and opinions are entirely my own.

 

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Muiderslot Castle & Singer Laren

 

35 thoughts on “Day 4. Muiderslot Castle & Singer Laren Museum, Amsterdam

  1. Sounds like you had a fantastic trip to Amsterdam, Marion. Laren looks like a real hidden gem: a quiet town which offers visitors the chance to explore the amazing history, Dutch tradition and stunning scenery. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I lived in Laren when I was working for ING in Amsterdam and used to get the train in from Naarden. Laren was lovely but stupidly expensive, and there’s a reason it’s known as “the Gold Coast” by the locals. It’s proximity to Hilversum made it home to many a media personality, by all accounts. This has been a lovely reminder of where I was 20 years ago.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Sounds like a packed, but fun long-weekend break in Amsterdam and its surroundings! Muiden looks so picturesque; if weather were better, I could imagine sitting on the terrace by the water and enjoying a drink and meal. Glad you had a good time outside of your home, and I look forward to other travels you have in store!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I remember taking a rail package tour from London to Amsterdam for not very much money in the early 1980s and loving everything about that trip, including an evening at a jazz club. But we would never have imagined this world was just beyond! So glad you took us there.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Oh, that’s rather nice – your own breakfast platter! Laren looks like a pretty little town – lovely buildings. Ah, and how nice to see such a beautiful castle on your outing! Lovely picture of the entrance to the historic garden. Oh, I’m almost sad it came to an end now … thank you Marion for a wonderful tour through Amsterdam and its surroundings – another visit well documented!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Our stay at the Vesting Hotel had been delightful Corna and the breakfast platter delicious. Both Singer Laren and Muiderslot Castle were interesting too visit too and we had a lovely final day in the Netherlands. Hope your weekend is going well and thank you for taking the time to comment

      Liked by 1 person

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