If you have read part one of my royal journey in The Netherlands, you’ll know I just missed out on meeting Queen Beatrix at Noordiende Palace in Den Haag ;)…..and, so, my dear friend Brett and I headed to the north of the country to visit Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, once home to sovereigns, now a proud state museum.
The train journey, from Den Haag (The Hague) in the south to Apeldoorn in the north, was very comfortable and took just 1hr and 20mins. It was a scenic trip, past canals, quiet country towns, a few windmills and the town of Gouda, which this cheese lover regrets not stopping at. Upon arrival, in the city of Apeldoorn, we took a taxi to the outskirts of the city, near the entrance to the former royal residence and after a short walk through a stunning tree lined path, we came to ‘Paleis Het Loo‘, translated into English as ‘The Woods Palace’.
Magnified by the sun after walking through the shaded path, Het Loo looked magnificently opulent. At the left were the grand stables, able to hold more than 40 horses at one time and now holding many of the royal family’s coaches, yet straight ahead, a solid dark door, the palaces entry. Unlike other palaces I’ve visited, where tourists enter through a side or servants door, we entered through the stately entrance with me quipping “We’re here!” as if expected.
Upon entering guess what we learned? No pictures were allowed! so I am afraid you’ll just have to visit the palace yourself to see the majestic interior with resplendent furnishings and artwork. We viewed the private living quarters including the bed chamber of Queen Wilhelmina who, reigning from 1890 at age 10 until her abdication in favour for her daughter Juliana in 1948, is the longest Dutch reigning monarch. After her abdication, due to advancing age and the strain of ruling throughout two world wars, Wilhelmina retired to Het Loo Palace until her passing in 1962. The palace, which had been a royal residence since its construction in the 17th century, was passed to the state upon Wilhelminas death, however, should the Dutch abolish the monarchy it will return to the royal family.
Directly behind the palace are the gardens, magnificently Baroque, they were first designed in 1684 when construction of the palace commenced and completely restored to their original designs in 1984 to celebrate their tricentenary. The gardens, similar yet smaller to those at the Palace of Versailles in France, lay in a symmetrical design with several rectangular parterres around a main axis that leads toward a large water fountain and colonnade at the rear, interspersed with marble and stone statues throughout.
The parterres are stunning, each with a different scrolled design hedging, clipped perfectly, in eyecatching patterns.
Many statues, all gods and goddesses from Greek mythology, are positioned throughout to help the gardens flourish. The main statue is of Venus, the goddess of love.
I adored this fountain and gate which, to me, looked like an entrance to a secret garden (or maybe another world?)
Brett and I stood and marveled at the edges of the garden. How on earth do they mow these inclines and keep them so neat and even?
There was another side garden, perhaps this was where the secret garden lay? It was closed at this time but I managed to peek through and take a few shots of the covered trellises, it seemed to relaxing yet still quite regal.
At the very rear of the gardens, lie the colonnade which looks back towards the palace. The colonnade, seemingly grand and Romanesque, sat in perfect symmetrical layout with the fountain and palace in the background.
The fountain, sprouting fresh groundwater 13 metres high, was at one time the highest water fountain in Europe.
Alas, it came time to leave another royal residence without meeting royalty, to head back to the south of Holland, to Den Haag (The Hague). Brett and I caught a train home via Amsterdam sitting in the quiet carriage contemplating our day at gorgeous Het Loo Palace and Garden. When we arrived in The Hague, Brett, looking at me with concern, said “Its your hair, you’ll never meet a queen with a mop like that!” and whisked me off to his salon, Salon Bliss, where I was trimmed, scalp massaged, coloured and styled, fit for a queen!
Paleis Het Loo
Koninklijk Park 1,
Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
Open Tues – Sun from 10am to 5pm
(Closed Mondays except Public Holidays)
Admission €14.50 p.p
Holland By Train
The Hague, The Netherlands
+31 70 365 5066
For more information on the beautiful city of Apeldoorn visit www.netherlands-tourism.com/apeldoorn/