It was a family day at Paleis Het Loo [pɑˈlɛi̯s ɦɛt ˈloː] or Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn.
In case you need introduction …
Het Loo Palace is a palace built between 1684 and 1686 for stadtholder-king William III and his wife Mary II of England, from the House of Orange-Nassau. It was a summer residence where the stadtholder could hunt and entertain his noble guests in royal splendor.
Today, it is a state museum open to the public since 1984. Visitors get to see the palace interior with original furnishings owned by the Dutch royal family throughout generations. The palace has a wide collection around 160,000 objects of paintings, sculptures, furniture, arts and crafts, textiles and costumes, prints and photos, decorations and books.
My visit started at the Stables Square. It was built between 1907 and 1909. We were able to check out the empty Royal Stables and entered the coach-houses to take a look at the carriages, cars and sleighs. A section of the stable has become a studio in operation, providing many indoor kids activities.
Across the Stables, there were ice-skating rink, open fire and a couple of stalls serving Gluhwein, hot drinks, poffertjes (Dutch mini pancakes) and other snacks. It was certainly a cozy affair right outside the Grand Café restaurant. A Winter Wonderland festive outdoor event!
After that, a 10-minute walk along the well groomed tree-lined avenue towards the main building. The view of the baroque palace from a distance was less than exciting. Probably because of the gray sky. The Palace visit was divided into three routes; West Wing on the left, Main and East Wing on the right.
The elegant Het Loo restaurant on the West Wing was surprisingly housed in a gorgeous royal Ballroom furnished with crystal chandeliers and hunting tableau leather walls. A must to see!
Inside the palace building, the extravagant décor on full display were exquisite and overwhelming. Every space from the hallways to the Chapel, library, bedrooms, sitting rooms, dining rooms and staircases were regally presented. Some rooms were complete with Christmas decking!
As for the East Wing, the formal palace kitchen has a large collection of dinner services, clocks, statues, candlesticks, portraits and garden urns on display. There was a special museum located on the upper floor called the Museum van de Kanselarij der Nederlandse Orden or Museum of the Chancery of Dutch Orders. This museum possesses one of the world’s largest collections of knight insignia, decorations, books and other materials. Unfortunately, it was closed during our visit.
Exiting the palace through the back, we took a stroll in the Great Garden admiring fountains, basins, Greek mythology sculptures and Canadian maple trees. Such baroque garden with its perfect symmetry layout was originally built as a private garden. It was quite walk circling our way around. This garden is the main attraction of Paleis Het Loo especially in the summer months. It is often mislabeled as the ‘Versailles of Holland’.
Paleis Het Loo is closing its door to the main building on 8 January 2017 for a major (at least three-year) renovation. You only have this weekend to catch a glimpse of how the Oranges have lived and worked here for past 300 years. Ticket prices are quite expensive, but it is free entry for Museumkaart holders.
Visitors are more than welcome to visit the palace gardens, stables and museum restaurants from April to September and the 650 hectares Palace Park which open till October. My kids spent four wonderful hours exploring Paleis Het Loo earlier today. We hope to see the splendid garden again at its peak in the summertime.
Entrance Fees: €5.00 per person age 4 to 12 yrs old & €14.50 per person from 13 years and above. Family price tickets at €35.00 for 2 adults + 4 children 4-12 yrs. Free entry for Museumkaart holders.