Along with winter come all the markets. Winter may not have arrived yet, but we all need to prepare and it seems like the best way to prepare is to go shopping. Together with my mum I stroll past a bunch of different stalls. You can find thick, fluffy blankets, ornaments for your Christmas tree, decoration for in the garden, plants, jumpers and candles, but also some hot pies and hot chocolate to keep the tummy happy. The Spirit of Winter fair is on the grounds of Palace het Loo, a former palace of the Dutch royals. Included in the ticket to the market is a visit to the palace, which is now a museum.
The palace is still used by our royals from time to time, mostly for occasions like weddings or baptisms. A big part of the building is now open to the pubic. In 1684 it was bought by Willem III. He was never king of The Netherlands, since there wasn’t a monarchy back then, but he was married to Mary, who became queen of England. After Willem and Mary, the palace belonged to the rulers, kings and queens that followed. When Napoleon crowed his brother king of Holland, Napoleon’s brother lived in het Loo. After that, the Dutch kings and queens lived in the palace, for example Wilhelmina, who became queen when she was only ten. According to the audio tour of het Loo, she played with her dolls a lot. If they were naughty, she would warn them “if you don’t stop that now, I’ll make you queen and then you’ll never be allowed to play again.”
I’ve seen many palaces and even though this one was beautiful, it wasn’t as opulent as some other ones I’ve seen. When Willem III bought the place, he wanted to create a fancy, elegant and rich hunting lodge that could compete with the lodges of other wealthy families around Europe. While the palace has a lot of valuable furniture, contains a fair amount of gold and other valuable materials, and also has hunting trophies like an elephant’s trunk, a bear and many antlers, it seems modest compared to other great European palaces. In a self guided tour you can visit all the rooms, with the beautifully painted walls and look at the old furniture. I really like the way the tour takes you through time, from Willem III until more recent royals.
The audio tour brought the place to life. The fragments were informative and funny, using perspectives of different people that worked around the palace. You learn about the royal family, but also the way they used to live in the good old days. You learn how things changed and how the royals are just like any other Dutch family in some ways. I thought the fragments of audio were just the right size and really added something to the experience. After exploring the palace for about 2 hours, we took a walk through the gardens and made our way to the stables, where the carriages and royal cars were displayed. I thoroughly enjoyed the palace. With the atmosphere at the market it was the perfect fall day out.
Palace het Loo is on the edge of Apeldoorn, which is just over an hour’s drive from Amsterdam.