If you are mad about castles like I am and are ready to drive up to two hours leaving Amsterdam direction southeast Holland, I then highly recommend you visting castle Hoensbroek. It is in excellent condition after works of renovation (still in process), the entrance fees are reasonable and during special dates you can enjoy shows and an open air theater with your kids. Already by the main gate we were greeted with medieval songs played by these enthousiastic troubadours that would tell stories of princesses and dragons !
There is a free parking nearby, but you can also park near the lake around the castle like we did
(we had bags with chocolates from Lindt - see my previous post - and were desperate for some shadowy place). The entrance fee is 7,50 euros per adult and 4,50 euros for chidlren from 4 -12 years old. We also bought a brochure for 2,50 euros with the history of the castle.
By the main gate there is this pretty restaurant ("Tot Slot") with and amazing garden and lake views. There is also a self service restaurant near the inner patio of the castle where you can go for some beers, ice tea, sandwiches and snacks.
Going further than the big inner patio there were lots of tents in medieval style with actors and musicians from different nationalitites (French, Dutch and German) selling their products or making demonstrations of instruments, potions and perfumes, gadgets and clothes for kids and grown ups. I had never seen or heard this instrument before played by the woman above. It was magical and soothing, very exquisite !
There were many medieval tents (see above) selling stuff for kids. Because my son is mad about knights and has already his collection of swords we bought a hard paper helmet for him with a feather on top. He is ready to fight dragons and rescue princesses now !!
Kids could also learn from the actors how to properly hold a shield and weapons or use a bow and arrow.
Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, nobles & paysants, old & young, dogs & cats, horses & pigs: the show (oops I mean tournaments) must start ! And this is Theobaldus and his horse Marie announcing what we are about to witness: the bravest knights have came from Limburg, Brabant, Luxembourg, Champagne and different corners of the world to compete and practice their skills during these springs days.
Theobaldus had hilarious remarks and was never tired. Our medieval host explained in Dutch what we were going to see and also made fun of English/American tourists: "Are there people who came from faraway Anglia here today ? Any boring English people ? Where are you ?"
Grown-ups and children were disputing avidly the best places near the fence. Most kids were sitting on the ground righ behind the fence and most adults were filming and photographing frantcly. We were there on the 23rd May and it was packed (5000 visitors, a record). It was difficult sometimes to make decent photos. I absolutely adored the shows and and camping around it.
Below you can have some ideas of what to expect. It was a very hot day and the actors were using heavy, complete costumes. They took very serious the whole play ! Theobaldus and another presentator, on the contrary, were all the time making funny and cynical remarks in Dutch, French and German.
And below you can see what happend to a knight who offend a lady and was punished with death:
Well, but life is not only made of competitions and fights. There is time also to be gentle and celebrate...
There are also exhibitions and shows with owls and hawks or workshops about how to kill a dragon (and transform his green blood into magical potions, of course). The visit to the castle interiors had a slow begin, but it was worth all the queueing. We haven't made many pictures of the interiors because our mini-princess was sleeping on my shoulders, my allergy was back again and it was so packed with tourists. I do recommend visiting the kitchen and attic. Castle Hoensbroek has a long history starting in 1375 and was builded in several phases along the centuries. If you wish to know more about its history and important facts and also other sorts of shows along the year do not forget to visit their site: http://www.kasteelhoensbroek.nl/ . I had a great time in Castle Hoensbroek and when hosting members of my family or friends visiting Holland I shall certainly come here again !