Haarlem, conveniently located between Amsterdam and the beach
Haarlem, my hometown in the Netherlands, is a sleepy, but charming town, positioned between the west coast and Amsterdam.
Between my house and the coast you find mainly nature. Parks, forests, vast dune areas and finally the beach.
Many of my friends and fellow citizens bike to the beach (about 30 minutes for them, 50 minutes for me, if I am to make it at all;-)).
I prefer to go there by car (about 15 minutes).
Lovely, tranquil Elswout in Overveen
But it’s not the beach that I want to talk about today. It’s something even closer to my house (7 minutes by car only): Elswout Estate in Overveen.
It is one of the earliest country houses (with a huge park around it: 85 hectares) in the Netherlands, dating back to 1633.
In those days, rich merchants from Amsterdam, were looking for tranquil, beautiful sites, surrounded by a lot of space, nature, fresh air and in the vicinity of the sea. Along the coast, several of these majestic villas arose. They were used as summer houses.
Different owners throughout the centuries changed the look and style a lot
Elswout has a long history in which it changed owners often. (People didn’t live as long as we do nowadays.) All of these owners changed the huge villa AND the landscape and grounds around it. Hence, there is nothing left from the original villa built in 1633.
Each owner changed the architectural and landscaping style, one built an extra floor on the villa, etc. Reflecting their taste and reflecting what was en vogue at that time.
The last owners were not able to finish their planned renovations. As a consequence, the villa sadly remained unfinished and vacant for decades.
The current building is a 19th century villa, inspired by 16th century Italian villas.
Elswout Villa turns into office space
Finally, the government decided to keep on the park as a public site, but to sell off the residence. They sold it for a symbolic amount with the obligation to renovate it properly and totally.
When I visited the estate in july, they were still working on the villa. I understood it’s now owned by a company to be rented out as office space.
The Elswout House has never been open to the public, so it can only be admired from the outside.
But….here is a video that shows a bit of the inside of this monument as it is now:
Elswout Park remains open to the public and is free!
As said: the park is open to the public and access is free! How wonderful is that?!
It is beautiful in all seasons and known to have a lot of pretty mushrooms growing there in the wild.
People hold picnics in the park, organize children’s parties, there are two easy, well-indicated walking paths, benches overlooking streams and ponds, and some cute follies.
Elswout’s orangerie: private events and public sundays
The beautiful orangerie -the biggest in the Netherlands- is focussed on private events and only open to the public on sundays from 10.30 to 17.30. They then serve high tea, and other drinks and bites.
If you are in the area, be sure to pay a visit to this beautiful park. It is ever so quiet and you feel miles away from the cities hustle and bustle.
From Haarlem via Elswout to the beach
If you live in Haarlem, you can combine a trip to the beach in Bloemendaal with a visit first to Elswout.
After that, continue your trip to the coast via the dune nature area. It’s a gorgeous route!
Have you visited Elswout? Do you have any places like this where you live?