Het Loo Palace, Netherlands

It is worth the 60 mile drive from Amsterdam to experience Het Loo Palace. The luxurious summer residence was built in the late 17th century for King William III and his wife, Queen Mary II. Equally impressive is a stroll through the magnificent royal garden.

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1 Overview of Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, Netherlands

Paleis Het Loo is the top tourist attraction in Apeldoorn, a city in central Netherlands. The palace is also one of the most visited historic sites in the country. The grand estate was built in 1686 for King William III of England. The Dutch Baroque style reflects the architecture of the Dutch Golden Age (1581 – 1672). The size of the summer palace was meant to impress yet the features were austere compared to residences of other European monarchs. Descendants of the House of Orange-Nassau periodically lived in this rijksmonument (national heritage site) until 1975. The entrance is fronted by a cour d’honneur designed to receive royal visitors. Today, the courtyard stages lines of tourists.

Koninklijk Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn, Netherlands

2 William and Mary Built Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, Netherlands

Learning the historical context of the first occupants of Paleis Het Loo enhances your visit. The summer palace was commissioned by William III, commonly called William of Orange. He became the Prince of Orange in 1650 a week before his birth when his father, William II, died of smallpox. In 1677, while William was stadtholder (steward) of Holland, he married the 15 year old daughter of future King James II of England. In 1688, the pair overthrew her father in the Glorious Revolution. The victor then became William III, the king of England, Scotland and Ireland while she simultaneously became Queen Mary II. The couple’s shared reign over Britain is commonly called the William and Mary Period. Their joint taste for furnishings by Dutch artisans with French accents led to the William and Mary style of furniture from 1689 until the death of William III in 1702. You will see many examples of this furniture while touring about 40 rooms of their former royal palace.

Koninklijk Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn, Netherlands

3 Royal Garden at Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, Netherlands

The Great Garden at Het Loo Palace is magnificent! The cultivated oasis was designed by the talented imagination of French landscape architect Claude Desgots. He was born into a family of royal gardeners and tutored by André Le Nôtre, the principal gardener at the Palace of Versailles. Among Desgots’ other credits are gardens at Windsor Castle. Over time, the garden at Het Loo Palace evolved away from the original design. But after a significant renovation, it has been transformed back to the 17th century symmetrical splendor savored by William and Mary. Enjoy the gorgeous flowerbeds traversed by manicured walkways, sculpted hedges and elaborate statues.

Koninklijk Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn, Netherlands

4 Mermen on Venus Fountain at Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, Netherlands

Water is a prominent feature in the Het Loo Palace gardens. There are reflecting pools, spouting architectural elements and several fountains. In the center of the Lower Garden is the Venus Fountain. How appropriate! She is the goddess of gardens and love and an obvious tribute to Queen Mary II. Below the statue’s feet are gilded mermen. The half-man, half-fish tritons are depicted blowing conch shells to calm the seas.

Koninklijk Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn, Netherlands

5 Orange Trail at Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, Netherlands

At the end of the Upper Garden at Het Loo Palace are elegant, twin colonnades. They accent Koningssprong (King’s Leap) fountain with water sprays exceeding 42 feet high. This marks the start of the Orange Trail. Allow an hour to walk through the groomed, parklike setting created for the Orange monarchs. Palace Park covers about 1,600 acres. Along the way you will cross three footbridges (Lion Bridge, Canal Bridge and Copper Bridge). Around a pond you will encounter the Bathing Pavilion of King William III, the Boat House favored by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (reign 1890 – 1948), the Tea Pavilion and the Boat House. The Orange Trail is included with your admission price to Het Loo Palace. So, leave extra time to explore this former royal haven.

Koninklijk Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn, Netherlands