Bernstorff Palace was built in the middle of the 18th century forForeign Minister Johann Hartwig Ernst, Count von Bernstorff. It remained in the possession of the Bernstorff family until 1812. In 1842 it was bought by Christian VIII. For many years it was used as a summer residence by Christian IX until his death in 1906.
The palace was designed by the French architect Nicolas-Henri Jardin who had been brought to Denmark to complete Frederick's Church in Copenhagen after the death of Nicolai Eigtved in 1754. It is one of the earliest examples of Neoclassical architecture in Denmark. The elaborately decorated two-storeyed building was completed in May 1765 at considerable cost. At the time it had four small decorative garrets, attics with decorative vases and a wide balcony on the roof ridge itself. On the garden side, there is a dome-covered projection rising the full height of the building.
The palace's many rooms were modest in size and intended primarily for domestic use rather than for display. Most are panelled with parquet floors, large mirrors and decorated ceilings. The four rooms on the south side have overdoors decorated by Johan Edvard Mandelberg.
Bernstorff left Denmark in 1770, after being dismissed by the regent, Johann Friedrich Struensee. The estate remained in his family’s hands until 1812 but was then sold on several occasions. It was about to be demolished in 1842 when Christian VIII bought it and charged Jørgen Hansen Koch with its comprehensive renovation. A mezzanine was added and the layout of the first-floor rooms was changed.
The palace's extensive gardens were laid out are in the Romantic landscape style which had just been introduced to Denmark in the 1760s. In addition to the lawns and woods, they include a rose garden, an orchard and a tea house. It is believed that Jardin who designed the palace was also responsible for their design, especially as his plans refer to the emergence of landscape gardens as a new trend in Denmark.
Today Bernstorff Palace is a hotel and conference centre.References:
The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.