As you can see I’m ready for my day in the country, one last snapshot before I’m off. It started sunny but became soon cloudy followed by a drizzle and to get finished off with buckets full of water. But let’s not get ahead of that.
I left at 11.00 while it was still sunny, driving east to cross the Schellingwouderbrug and drive over the Zuider IJdijk towards IJburg. As I told you yesterday I planned of driving to Muiden and maybe beyond. The Zuider IJdijk goes over in Diemerzeedijk which is one long wide road which goes on and on for miles in the Diemerpark. This park was once a landfill and [illegal] dumping place for chemicals, nowadays after a huge restoration project it’s an unique park with unique flora, fauna and amphibian. Along the way I had my lunch and some chocolate-milk to wash it away. At the end of the wide road, only to be used by cyclists and pedestrians you have to cross a gate if you want to get further, 5 minutes later I found out why. Sheep walk freely on the cycle path. In the mean time I was soaked because the drizzle that started halfway down the park-road turned into a deluge. Turning back could have been an option but since I was already wet it didn’t matter anymore. By the time I drove into the city of Muiden I was mostly dry again. The picture to the left shows part of the modern harbour in Muiden. The low wall was extra protection against high tide when this city was still open to the sea, the Zuyder Zee nowadays known as Lake IJssel. At the end of this street lays the Muiderslot aka Castle Muiden.
The history of the Muiderslot [Castle Muiden, where muidenmeans rivermouth] begins with Count Floris V who built a stone castle at the mouth of the river back in 1280, when he gained command over an area that used to be part of the See of Utrecht. The River Vecht was the trade route to Utrecht, one of the most important tradetowns 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. The castle was destroyed after the murder of Count Floris V in 1296.
A hundred years later, in 1370, the castle was rebuilt on the same spot based on the same plan, by Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria, who at that time was also the Count of Holland and Zeeland.
The next famous owner of the castle shows up in the 16th century, when P.C. Hooft [1581-1647], a famous 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 in its former glory.
The Muiderslot is currently a national museum [Rijksmuseum]. The insides of the castle, its rooms and kitchens, have been restored to look like they did in the 17th century and several of the rooms now house a good collection of arms and armour.
I didn’t visit the museum at the castle, just had a cup of coffee, stalled my ‘horse’ in the courtyard and later viewed the gardens and surroundings while sitting on it. Afterwards I drove along the river Vecht to Weesp the next city. Weesp is part of the ‘new’ Dutch Water Line. The old version started as a series of water based defences conceived by Maurice of Nassau in the early 17th century, and realised by his half brother Frederick Henry. Combined with natural bodies of water, it could be used to transform the economic heartland of the Dutch Republicalmost into an island. On the way to Weesp I passed several warfs and some of the ships outside brought memories of The Onedin Line, a TV series in the early 70’s. [I know it shows my age!]
Yesterday, the whole of Weesp was preparing for the Sluice and Bridges Fest which will be held over this weekend. And since I still had enough juice in my vehicle I left them behind me and drove to Driemond. This little village is now part of Greater-Amsterdam but is still on the south-eastern outscirts of the city, some 25 km/17 miles from the centre of town. I crossed the Amsterdam-Rhine Waterway to get to the Weesper Trekvaart towards Diemen, the “circle” was almost round, almost as in running out of juice at a certain moment. But since I was again within city-limits I just had to callthe transport service and be picked-up within an hour and brought home.
More pictures of my journey can be found here.