Paleis Het Loo

Trip Start Jul 25, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Friday, April 6, 2007

We ventured to the Eastern district - the province of Gelderland - to see the former residence of the Dutch royal family. This area of the Netherlands is similar to the other areas we have seen - lots of open fields with grazing farm animals bisected by numerous canals with the occasional city here and there!  We noted a lot more single family homes here than we had seen in either North or South Holland... Dutch suburbia perhaps? 
Paleis Het Loo is located in the town of Apeldoorn and was originally built in 1684 by Dutch stadtholder William III (House of Orange) for his British wife & cousin, Mary II of Stuart.  Together they were one of the most powerful couples in European history - King & Queen of Holland, England, Scotland, Ireland, and (supposedly) some parts of France!  This palace had been used by the Dutch royal family for nearly 300 years before it was turned over to the state in the 1970's who in turn have preserved it for our viewing & learning pleasure
Upon arrival we thought the front façade of the palace appeared more collegiate than palatial - it did not have the same 'Wow factor' as other elaborate palaces built in that era (ie. Versaille and Schonbrunn) and reminded us more of a prestigious college than a fairy tale castle... It was not until going inside the palace that the full extent of their wealth and prosperity was appreciated - innumerable bedrooms, ballrooms, dining rooms, libraries, sitting rooms, etc. all decorated with the finest treasures.  The gardens out back were also very 'royal-like' - massive and elaborate with intricate designs throughout the hedges, numerous fountains and tons of flowers (turns out William & Mary were both fond of gardening!).  We were awed thinking of the number of gardeners it must take to not only build but maintain these grounds.   
The visit to the palace was highly enjoyable... we spent hours going through the inside rooms (unfortunately we couldn't take any pictures!), exploring the various exhibits set up in the former stables, and walking around the gardens - even the touristy café had excellent food (much better than expected!).  We spent more time there than we had originally planned and therefore had did not get a chance to go to De Hoge Veluwe National Park - the other attraction in this province... next time!
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