Huis ten Bosch ('House in the Woods') is a royal palace and one of three official residences of the Dutch Royal Family. Construction of Huis ten Bosch began in 1645, under the direction of Bartholomeus Drijffhout, and to a design by Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen. It was commissioned by Amalia von Solms, the wife of stadtholder Frederick Henry, on a parcel of land granted to her by the States General. The first stone was laid by Elizabeth of Bohemia.
After her husband's death in 1647, Amalia dedicated the palace to him. Led by the Catholic architect-painters Jacob van Campen and Pieter Post, other major Catholic artists of the day such as Gerard van Honthorst, Jacob Jordaens, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert, Theodoor van Thulden, Caesar van Everdingen, Salomon de Bray, Pieter Soutman, Gonzales Coques, Pieter de Grebber, Adriaen Hanneman and Jan Lievens filled the Oranjezaal ('Orange Hall' ) with paintings glorifying the late prince. The dining room was designed by Daniel Marot.
Over the next century and a half, the palace would change possession from the Nassau family, the king of Prussia, and many stadtholders until the French invaded in 1795. They gave the palace to the Batavian (Dutch) people who still own it to this day.
The National Art Gallery, precessor of the Rijksmuseum, was housed in the building from 1800 to 1805. Napoleon Bonaparte's brother, Louis, king of Holland, briefly lived in the palace between 1805 and 1807.
When William I was proclaimed King of the Netherlands, he made Huis ten Bosch one of his official residences. It became a favourite location for many members of the Royal Family, and during World War I it became the primary residence of Queen Wilhelmina.
The Queen and her family were forced to evacuate the palace for Britain (from which the Queen's family, but not the Queen herself, would move on to Canada) when the German army invaded the Netherlands during World War II. The Nazi administration planned to demolish the palace, but the controller convinced them otherwise. However, the palace was damaged beyond habitation.
Between 1950 and 1956, the palace was restored and once again became a Royal residence. It became the prime residence once more in 1981.
The palace has undergone major reconstructions since it was built. Currently, it consists of a central part with two long wings, spanning approximately 110 m from end to end.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.