Muiderslot 

Count Floris V had a stone fortification built around 1280 to control the river Vecht estuary. This stone fortification is known today as Muiderslot. Muiderslot is one of the best preserved castles in the Netherlands. When you visit the castle you get a glimpse into 700 years of history of the castle and its inhabitants.  

Count Floris V  

Count Floris V had not only a lot of admirers but also a lot of enemies including the bishop of Utrecht. This William of Mechelen thought the count’s castle was a thorn in his side: not only did the Muiderslot protect the Vecht, the count also asked for toll payments if people entered “his” river. Floris V was overpowered by his own nobles during a hunting party in 1296 and imprisoned in his own castle. Was this by order of the bishop or did these nobles have other motives? However, Floris V was very popular with the common people and when it came out that his own nobles were holding him prisoner, a revolt broke out. 

Muiderslot - The Little Walk of Horrors
Muiderslot – The Little Walk of Horrors

After 5 days, because of this, the nobles fled together with the captured count to Utrecht. Floris V tried to escape, but failed because his horse slipped in the water. One of the nobles, a man named Gerard van Velsen, cowardly stabbed him to death with his sword at Muiderberg. After the death of Floris V, the bishop of Utrecht immediately stormed Muiderslot with the aim of razing it to the ground. Fortunately, this did not happen, although the castle was severely damaged. There was no successor to Floris at the time because his still very young son Jan was being raised in England.    

Muiderslot - The Little Walk of Horrors
One of the three mezekouwen – The Little Walk of Horrors

A real defensive castle   

After eighty years the castle was rebuilt. It retained its previous function: that of a defensive castle. For example, there are 48 embrasures in the walls and three mezekouwen, or throwing holes, above the gate. Soldiers of the castle could surprise unsuspecting attackers from above with hot oil, pitch and stones. Horsemen and soldiers who wanted to storm the castle didn’t stand a chance: they could be seen approaching from afar. The castle could only be attacked via the drawbridge. Muiderslot was further surrounded by water.    

Muiderslot - The Little Walk of Horrors
The court room – The Little Walk of Horrors

Justice and punishment   

Besides a defensive castle, Muiderslot was also the official residence of the castle guardian who was also bailiff of Naarden and Gooiland and Drost of Muiden. This means that justice was administered in the castle. Let’s go back to the nobles who had imprisoned and murdered Floris V: they were punished mercilessly harshly at Muiderslot. After considerable torture, they were beheaded in the castle square. Their heads were placed on stakes at the entrance to the castle to make a point.

Muiderslot - The Little Walk of Horrors
One of the castle’s dungeons – The Little Walk of Horrors

The dungeons of Muiderslot   

Sometimes it took some form of conviction to get someone to confess. Confessions were therefore often obtained through torture. Only children under 14 and pregnant women were not subjected to this form of interrogation. Various instruments of torture were present in Muiderslot, such as thumbscrews, fire pokers, and of course the rack. A suspect was locked in one of the dark dungeons. No one was held here for long: imprisonment was not common before 1870 in The Netherlands. However, in the South Tower there was a so-called Vergeetkerker, better known as an oubliette. This dungeon was only accessible through a hatch in the ground, had no windows and was therefore pitch black. The prisoner then had to stay there for quite some time. For every prisoner who spent time there, the fear of being forgotten must have been very real.  

Muiderslot - The Little Walk of Horrors
Muiderslot – The Little Walk of Horrors

Guilty? Then punishment followed!   

Was someone found guilty? Then an appropriate punishment was sought. Below is a list of criminal activities with the corresponding punishments:  

  • Was someone convicted of espionage? Then their eyes were gouged out.  
  • Had someone stolen? Then his or her hand was cut off. Had someone counterfeited money? Then a thumb was removed.  
  • Had someone spoken evil? Then that person’s tongue was pierced.
  • Had a murder been committed? Then a head had to roll.  
  • And was someone accused of heresy or witchcraft? These people were burned at the stake.  
  • Banishment was also a form of punishment. Those banished would be branded so they could be easily recognized. Life in the Middle Ages was no picnic.

By the way, many punishments could be bought off with money. Bribery was apparently condoned…   

Muiderslot - The Little Walk of Horrors
PC Hooft’s Room – The Little Walk of Horrors

Famous resident    

There were 55 guardians of the castle between 1280 and 1795. After 1795 the justice function in the castle expired, and Muiderslot also lost its residential function. The castle guardians after that time were mainly museum directors. Before that period, people also lived in the castle who did not hold the position of bailiff. One of those residents was Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft: the famous writer and poet. He lived at Muiderslot for 38 years until his death in 1647. Among other things, PC Hooft wrote his tragedy “Geeraerdt van Velsen” in 1613 at the castle. He was very impressed by the murder of Floris V and decided to write a play in five acts about it. One of his sources was a historical song, so his information was not very reliable. Nevertheless, the work is still available.   

Muiderslot - The Little Walk of Horrors
The Dining Room – The Little Walk of Horrors

The ghosts of Muiderslot

PC Hooft claimed to have seen the spirit of Floris V on several occasions during his years at the castle. The spirit was nervously walking room to room as if he is looking for something. The ghost appeared really sad. He is not the only ghost that haunts Muiderslot. A woman named Machteld van Velsen is said to haunt one of the castle rooms because she was assaulted there by Floris V. Wait a minute… Van Velsen? Could she have been related to Gerard van Velsen? That would immediately explain the motive for his murder!

Muiderslot - The Little Walk of Horrors
Tower Walk – The Little Walk of Horrors

In addition, a laughing Englishman haunts the dark corridors of the castle. He doesn’t mean any harm, but he has scared the hell out of many. A ghost with a blue hand haunts the castle for as long as people can remember. So what’s the story behind that blue hand? That is unclear, but it is believed that this person is doomed to wander the castle halls for eternity because of utter betrayal. Who this person was is unknown, but his betrayal must have been awful. And then there are the dungeons! How many tortured and slain souls still haunt these horrible places? Shadow figures have been seen, people have been touched and there are claims of whispers while no one else is around. 

The Muiderslot today   

Rijksmuseum Muiderslot is open to the public, so you can visit this amazing castle. A ticket gives you access to the gardens and the castle itself. With an audio tour, you can explore the Muiderslot on your own. There is castle route and a tower route. Among other things, you visit one of the dungeons. The castle is near Amsterdam so if you visit the Dutch capital, you might as well make a trip to Muiden! You won’t be sorry.

Muiderslot - The Little Walk of Horrors
Muiderslot – The Little Walk of Horrors

Let’s go on a Horrorwalk!   

Do you want to learn more about the bloody history of The Netherlands after reading this story? The Little Walk of Horrors has offline Horrorwalks! There are two dark city tours in Amsterdam, one in The Hague, one in Delft and one in Leiden. Haarlem is coming soon! We have an amazing hotel service, so if you’re planning a visit to The Netherlands, we can also send your tour to your hotel. This way you won’t have to pay the high shipping costs. Please contact info@thelittlewalkofhorrors.com if you have any questions or if you would like more information. Or visit our website

Cover photo: All photos were taken by The Little Walk of Horrors. They may not be used without the owner’s permission. 
Sources: The Muiderslot – Experience seven centuries of history for real by Annick Huijberts & Yvonne Molenaar. The audio tour of the Muiderslot I visited on March 9, 2024. 50enzo.nl and the article by Thera Coppens (www.theracoppens.nl) also contributed.    
Address: Herengracht 1, 1398 AA Muiden (near Amsterdam), The Netherlands

This story was created in collaboration with The Little Walk of Horrors.

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