intoHistory, geschiedenis beleven in authentieke logies
Middachten is a stunning fortified manor house set in grounds of 1000 hectares (about 2471 acres). Over 800 years, this former medieval estate was passed down successively through the generations until the 17th century, when it was rebuilt by the king’s architect. Its baroque gardens are among the most beautiful in the Netherlands. Middachten has remained a private property and is still a working estate run by a major-domo, gardeners, farmers, game wardens, carpenters and other craftspeople, and dozens more besides, who with the help of 100 voluntary workers, maintain this remarkable heritage property. Above the old coach house, three lovely bedrooms await you …
A romantic 18th-century view of the château when it still had its corner tower, its barbican and drawbridge. The guest rooms are located in the front building, on the first floor – Jan de Beijer (1743)
Summarizing the long history of the Middachten estate in just a few lines is an impossible task. But one can start with the reminder that, for centuries, the management of the huge Veluwe forests was the responsibility of the castle’s owners – a function of ministerial importance in a country where building stone was rare and where structural timber was a precious commodity, particularly for boat building.
To this day, large game hunting, still attracts many guns to Middachten. © Landgoed Middachten
The coat of arms above the entrance to the castle is that of Godard van Reede. They show his motto MALO MORI QUAM FOEDARI (Better to die than be disgraced) and a curious white elephant, which refers to the highest Danish order that was bestowed upon the earl by the King of Denmark.
Many of the Middachten nobles were important military leaders, particularly at the time of stadtholder William III (Dutch Head of State and future King of England) who was waging war against the Catholics both on the continent and in the British Isles. Thus, at the end of the 17th century, Godard van Reede, who was married to the heiress to the estate (Ursula Philippota van Raesfeld), was appointed commander-in-chief of the Dutch army after many victorious battles in Ireland, England, and in France – echoes of which are ever-present throughout the castle.
The cupola above the staircase richly decorated in stucco in strong relief, brings to mind a huge, hollowed-out cake embellished with fresh, whipped cream!
Middachten castle was reduced to rubble in 1673 by the armies of Louis XIV in reprisal for Godard van Reede’s strike against France and her allies. Jacob Roman, the court architect, who was responsible for the Het Loo Palace, was commissioned to reconstruct the building. The old keep was transformed into a sumptuous Baroque residence whose magnificent double flight of stairs, drawing rooms with large windows, lavishly moulded ceilings, and carved wood panelling, never fail to impress its visitors.
The dark wood panelling lining the walls of the entrance hall, the dining room or the smoking room, originally, would have been painted in light shades. However, in the 19th century, taste ran to bare, waxed woodwork. © Landgoed Middachten
Loyal to the family motto, all Godard van Reede’s successors were faithful servants of the state. They each left their mark on the castle and its sumptuous ornamental gardens. Through marriage, Middachten passed into the Aldenburg Bentinck family, who, as a result of the French revolution and the Napoleonic conquests, were forced into exile in England until 1813.
Beautiful view of the castle in the 18th century. – Jan de Bejier
During the 1980s, Isabelle Countess of Aldenburg Bentinck, mother of the present owner Count Franz zu Ortenburg, undertook extensive restoration work at Middachten. Thanks to her, every piece of furniture, every painting and every ornament – right down to the kitchens and the basement service rooms – was returned to its rightful place according to its period. Today, the former fortified manor house has an intensely authentic atmosphere of life in a stately residence imbued in the 19th century.
After the royal collection, Middachten castle has the largest portrait collection in the Netherlands. Four hundred paintings evoke the close ties between the greatest royal courts of Europe. © Violier at Home
Moving interview of Isabelle, Countess of Aldenburg Bentinck, in her restored castle (2011), by Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds. © Stijn van der Loo
Today, the old coach house houses the guest rooms, which although are not as luxuriously baroque as the castle, have their share of history, as their foundations date back to the Middle Ages. The materials used are of the highest quality with meticulous finishing touches. The paving stones, the tack and harness, the ancient staircase and the beautiful wooden framework are all steeped in another era. You will be captivated by the view onto the interior courtyard and the gardens.
The old coach house today © Landgoed Middachten
Your horse is also welcome at Middachten. It will be stabled in a historic box and you will be able to enjoy wonderful rides through the estate and its forests packed with game. © Landgoed Middachten
The estate’s guests have the privilege of being free to roam at any time through Middachten’s splendid private gardens. The parklands of about 20 acres have been recreated many times over the centuries, but today, are based on the neo-Baroque designs of Hugo Poortman, and were laid out around 1900. You can discover the wonderful ‘green rooms’ that are made up of hedges cut in arabesques, borders, flowerbeds, carpets of grass and stone paths ornamented with urns of flowers and orange trees. The park is planted with beautiful trees among which are a Lebanese cedar and gingko bilobas that date back to the 19th- century English gardens. The old maze has been replaced by a rose garden. An open-air theatre stretches along the edges of the old moat, now an ornamental pond, and many espaliered fruit trees embellish the surrounding walls.
The park of the castle in the 18th century.
During the summer months, the orangery is turned into a cafe for its visitors. © Landgoed Middachten
Lovers of protected natural spaces and wild animals will delight in the walks to be found in the Upper Veluwe national park.
For architecture and royalty enthusiasts, a visit to the Het Loo Palace is a must. The original building was a contemporary of Middachten, and houses a fabulous collection of antique furniture, famous paintings, sculptures, books, and photographs. Set aside several hours to visit its gardens, not to mention the nearly 25,000 acres of the royal estate’s forests.
Het Loo and its gorgeous park © Bertknot
Another interesting castle is Cannenburch, which has also been restored to its former epoch. Its parklands offer lovely walks and cycle rides.
Cannenburch Castle © Ton van der Wal
You can get to know the artist, Van Gogh, through 90 of his paintings and 180 drawings that are hanging in the Kröller-Müller museum – a must on any art-lover’s itinerary – to say nothing of the museum’s garden with 160 sculptures by renowned artists.
A last, but not least, recommendation for this region, so rich in cultural treasures, is the open-air museum at Arnhem.
The Arnhem open air museum is a fantastic place to discover typical Dutch traditional crafts © Bertknot
I've been so impressed by the mouth-watering estate of Middachten! You know, Dutch people are very well organized managers. Everything in the park, in the castle and of course in the exquisite guest rooms is so clean, nicely maintained and right where it should be... Most enjoyable.
The motivation of all the care-takers I have met, stewards, craftsmen, volunteers... is striking. Middachten does mean a lot to them, without any doubt. The pages of its history I could discover, just walking around its evocative settings, remain vivid in my mind as well.
The castle is not open to the visit every month in the year. But the guests of Middachten B&B are not common visitors: some of you may get a chance to enjoy a private tour with a volunteer some days of the week... Do not forget you can walk around the gorgeous parklands around the chateau whenever you are in the mood for poetry – a privilege only the Count and Countess zu Ortenburg (and their steward) share with you.
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Landgoed Middachten 3
6994 JC DE STEEG
+31 26 495 21 86
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