Close to the hustle and bustle of Utrecht, yet a world apart: the pristine green countryside around the city quickly gives away why the region was once so beloved by kings and queens, dukes and duchesses, and other people of nobility. “It was very common for prominent people in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries to own a residence in the countryside, alongside their houses in the city,” begins Anetta de Jong, chairwoman of the Foundation Collaborating Castles Utrecht (SSKU) and director of De Haar Castle. “Especially during summer, people of nobility would leave the city’s dirt behind for more comfortable places.”