Muiden is a small town of approx. 4,000 inhabitants in the province of North Holland, the Netherlands. It is located only 12 km to the east of Amsterdam on the boards of the IJmeer lake. It is a pleasant harbour town that is best known for it historic Muiderslot castle. Muiden is a popular destination for day trippers who come here mainly for water sports, but it is less well-known with foreign visitors.
Muiden derives its name from its location at the mouth of the river Vecht, that branches off the river Rhine in Utrecht. The town was already mentioned in 777, and received its city charter in 1122. In the 13th century, Muiden was contested between the bishops of Utrecht and the counts of Holland. In 1281, Muiden was ceded to the County of Holland, and the Muiderslot castle was built, but the struggle for power continued, culminating in the murder of Count Floris V of Holland in 1296 in nearby Muiderberg. This murder is the subject of one of the most famous plays in Dutch, Gysbreght van Aemstel, written in 1637 by Joost van den Vondel.
During the Dutch Rebellion, Dutch naval forces attacked Muiden in 1576, but were driven back by the Spanish with heavy losses. After the final Dutch conquest of the town, Muiden was fortified with city walls and bulwarks; the fortifications however were never tested. A French attack in 1672 was diverted by inundating the surrounding polders, and the French invasion of 1795 did not meet with any resistance.
The Muiderslot became famous as the residence of historian, poet and playwright P.C. Hooft, who lived there from 1610-1647. He regularly invited eminent scientists and writers for literary and musical meetings.
Following the 1672 French attack, a sea lock (Groote Zeesluis) was built in Muiden as part of the defensive inundation system of the Hollandse Waterlinie, that was designed to prevent new invaders from entering Holland from the east. The sea lock could be used to divert or block the water coming from the Zuiderzee when necessary.
In the late 19th century, Muiden was included in the Stelling van Amsterdam, the defence line around Amsterdam. A fortress was built in the Zuiderzee on the small island of Pampus. Because of its military importance, Muiden was also the site of a large powder factory from the 18th century onwards. After numerous explosions, this factory was finally closed in 2004.
The A1 motorway passes south of Muiden. Coming from Amsterdam, take the A10 ringroad and from there the A1 in the direction of Amersfoort (approx. 15 min). It is best to park your car in the free car park at the exit of the A1 (Maxisweg), and walk to town from there. Parking in town is €2.40 per hour.
By public transport
Muiden does not have a railway station, the closest one is found in Weesp, which is easily reached from Amsterdam. From there, you can take bus 110 to take you to Muiden (5 min). Alternatively, you can take buses 320, 322 or 327(Connexxion) from Amsterdam Amstel Station (approx. 30 min), which will stop at the Maxisweg car park.
From Amsterdam Central Station, it is 16kms to reach Muiden by bike (approx. 1 hr).
Of course, Muiden can be reached easily by boat as well. Muiden has its own marina with ample space for passers-by.
In the Summer season, a regular ferry runs from Amsterdam to the Muiderslot and Pampus.
Muiden is very small, so getting around on foot or bicycle is the best option.
The quayside around the sea lock is the most lively area of town, with plenty of places to sit, have a drink and watch the bustle of the boats coming in and out of the harbour. Muiden is most of all a pleasant place for a little stroll, and within 10 minutes walking you will reach the IJmeer lakeside beaches, where you can enjoy the view over the water and watch the sunset during the long Summer evenings.
The 17th-century fortifications are partly preserved, and have been in use until the early 20th century. It is a nice walk to follow the defensive moat and view the bulwarks and fortresses.
The artificial island of Pampus was built as part of the Stelling van Amsterdam in 1887-1895, in order to protect the entrance to Amsterdam from the Zuiderzee. At the time, it was built to withstand the heaviest artillery bombardments, but developments in modern war fare quickly made it obsolete. The fortress was closed in 1933. In 2007 it was completely renovated, and it is now open to visitors in the Summer season. It can only be reached by boat (it has a small marina that you can use to moor your own boat). Regular ferries run to Pampus from Amsterdam (see the Get In section) and Muiden.
Of course, taking the boat is the thing to do in Muiden. Apart from taking the ferries to Pampus and Amsterdam, you can rent a sailing boat or motor vessel in various places to explore the IJmeer and Gooimeer.
The area to the east and south of Muiden lends itself very well to cycling. The system of Fietsknooppunten (biking nodes) makes creating your own routes extremely simple. Practical information on cycling in the region can be found here. There's also a list of places of interest on Google Maps.
The village of Muiderberg is located some 4km east of Muiden, on the edge of the Gooi region. It is beautifully situated on the Gooimeer, and the walk on the IJsselmeerdijk from Muiden is a pleasant one, with good views of the lake, and passing some relics of WWII fortifications.
Muiderberg has nice sandy beaches where you can relax in Summer. Water temperatures in the Gooimeer are usually more pleasant than at the seaside because of the shallow water.
The village has some historical buildings on its central square, the Brink, and is noteworthy for its Jewish cemetery, where over 45,000 Jewish citizens from Amsterdam were buried from the mid-17th century onwards.