Muiden Castle, locally known as Muiderslot, lies in the town of Muiden, in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands.
Muiden Castle is probably the castle that receives the most visitors in all of the Netherlands. This is not only because it's a popular destination for a lot of school trips, due to its importance in Dutch history, but also because of its proximity to Amsterdam which attracts most foreign tourists.
The first castle on this site was built around 1280 by Count Floris V of Holland, to control the estuary of the river Vecht into the former Zuidersea. And undoubtedly it would also have been used to raise toll from passing ships on the river Vecht, as this river flowed through the territory of the bishops of Utrecht; opponents of Floris.
In 1296 Floris was abducted by rebelling noblemen and was held prisoner in Muiden Castle. They fled under the threat of a siege in the direction of Utrecht, taking Floris with them. During their flight they murdered Floris with their swords. Taking advantage of Floris death, there being no immediate successor and Floris' son being in England, Willem van Mechelen, bishop of Utrecht besieged Muiden Castle. After seizing the castle he destroyed it.
It was not until 1370 that the present Muiden Castle was built, on the foundations of the first castle, by Duke Albrecht, Count of Holland. Muiden Castle was built as a square castle with four round corner towers and no keep. It shows similarity to other square castles like the partially remaining Radboud Castle (also build by Floris), Ammersoyen Castle and Helmond Castle. It has a groundplan of 32x35 meters and walls of ca. 1.70 meters thick. There is also a wall walk on large arches on 2 sides and a large moat. The castle was never used as the house of a nobleman. It was only inhabited by bailiffs and used as a courthouse and state prison.
One of the most well-known inhabitants was PC. Hooft, a Dutch writer, poet and historian, who lived in the castle between 1609 and 1647. During his occupation of the castle he entertained a lot of famous friends there; all writers, scholars and artists, like Hugo de Groot (who was later held prisoner in Loevestein Castle), Constantijn Huygens and Joost van den Vondel. He and his company would later be named after the castle; the Muider Circle. The interior of the castle today has been furnished as it would have been during those times.
In the last part of the 17th century the castle was incorporated into a new and enlarged earthwork fortress which made the castle an important stronghold in the Old Holland Waterline and later also in the New Holland Waterline (both lines of defensive works using water throughout the western part of Holland).
In the beginning of the 19th century the castle had fallen into decay and plans were made to demolish the castle and sell the stones. King Willem I however refused to give permission after some protest. This saved the castle and in 1895 the castle was restored.
From 1948 till 1972 the castle again underwent restorations, removing some fantasized additions from the earlier restoration. Muiden Castle is now a state museum and is used for cultural events.
A nice castle, although the modern changes to the castle to make it suitable for recieving so many visitors, have somewhat robbed it of its genuine feel, in my opinion.