The Noordeinde palace originated as a medieval farmhouse, which was converted into a spacious residence by the steward of the States of Holland, Willem van de Goudt in 1533. The original farmhouse's cellars can still be seen in the palace basement.
From 1566 to 1591, the palace had a different owner. After that it was leased, and in 1595, purchased by the States of Holland for Louise de Coligny, the widow of William of Orange, and her son Prince Frederik Hendrik. In recognition of William’s service to the nation, the States presented the building to his family in 1609.
Frederik Hendrik substantially enlarged the house, which was then known as the Oude Hof. He began by buying the surrounding plots of land. The architects Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen, who built Huis ten Bosch Palace in 1645, were among those involved in the alterations. The alterations included lengthening the main building and adding wings on either side, thus creating the characteristic H-form that is seen today.
After Frederik Hendrik died in 1647, his widow, Amalia van Solms, spent much of her time at the Oude Hof. Following her death in 1675, the house was more or less empty for many years. After the death of the Stadholder-King William III in 1702, it passed to King Frederick I of Prussia, a grandson of Frederik Hendrik’s.
In 1740 Voltaire stayed in one of the apartments while he negotiated with Dutch publisher Jan van Duren about the Anti-Machiavel. In 1754, King Frederick the Great of Prussia sold his land-holdings in the Netherlands to Stadholder William V.
The son of Stadholder William V, who would become King Willem I, took up residence at the Oude Hof in 1792. But when the French invaded the Netherlands in 1795, during the French Revolutionary Wars, he and his family were forced to flee to England. The Oude Hof became the property of the Batavian Republic and hence state property, the status it has today. The gardens of the palace are open to the public.
In 1813, after the fall of Napoleon, Prince Willem returned to the Netherlands, where he was proclaimed Sovereign Prince.
The Constitution of the time decreed that the State must provide a summer and a winter home for the sovereign. Initially there were plans to build a new winter residence, but in the end it was decided to make extensive alterations to the Oude Hof.
King Willem I moved into Noordeinde Palace in 1817, living there until his abdication in 1840. His successor, King Willem II, never resided there. Like his grandfather, King Willem III used Noordeinde as his winter home, though he preferred to live at his summer residence, Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn. In 1876, he had the royal stables built in the gardens behind Noordeinde Palace.
Even after King Willem III married Queen Emma, the royal family continued to use Noordeinde as their winter home. Their daughter, Princess Wilhelmina, was born there in 1880, and Queen Emma and her daughter spent their winters at Noordeinde after the King’s death in 1890. In 1895 the Queen Regent had premises for the Royal Archives built in the grounds.
In 1901, Queen Emma moved to Lange Voorhout Palace, today's Escher Museum, while Queen Wilhelmina and her husband Prince Hendrik remained at Noordeinde.
Until the German invasion in 1940, Queen Wilhelmina continued to make frequent use of Noordeinde Palace. After the war, the palace was again used as the Queen’s winter residence.
In 1948, the central section of the palace was destroyed by fire. That same year Juliana acceded to the throne. She preferred Soestdijk Palace as her official residence, though some members of the Royal Household continued to use offices in Noordeinde. Between 1952 and 1976 the Institute of Social Studies was based in the north wing of the palace. Following a thorough restoration in 1984, the Palace became the Dutch Monarch’s workplace and office for all political and stately affairs.References:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.