Villa Welgelegen was built by Henry Hope of the famous family banking company Hope & Co. of Amsterdam, from 1785 to 1789 as a summer home to replace the already quite impressive structure that he purchased there in 1769. It is an example of neoclassical architecture, unusual for its style in the Netherlands.
Henry Hope was so influential that he persuaded the Haarlem local government to redesign the public park Frederickspark and he persuaded the Heemstede local government to redesign the Haarlemmerhout, both of which adjoined his property. Henry Hope collected many paintings and sculptures and had renowned artisans design the interior. He had many famous visitors to this palace, including William V of Orange, who visited with his wife, Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia, and Thomas Jefferson in 1788. Holland was the first country to recognize the United States as a country in 1782, and attracted many US visitors looking to trade with the wealthy merchants of Amsterdam, that was at that time the financial center of Europe.
Before Henry Hope could complete his vision of expanding the Welgelegen gardens to the Spaarne river, Henry Hope left Welgelegen only 5 years after the main house was completed. In 1794 Henry Hope fled to England before the French revolutionary forces, taking most of his art collection with him. He transferred the property to his nephew John Williams Hope who remained behind in Amsterdam to see to the family banking business. John Hope carried on the Hope & co. family business in Amsterdam together with Alexander Baring and Adriaan van der Hoop, young partners in the firm. In 1800 Henry Hope became influential together with his London friend Francis Baring in financing the Louisiana Purchase. On behalf of the French government, Baring and Hope sold US government bonds worth $11.25 million in 1804, more than a year after the treaty was signed. It is known as the largest land transaction in history.
John Williams Hope sold the villa in 1808 to Napoleon's brother Louis Bonaparte who had just been named King of Holland. Louis, or Ludwig as he called himself, loved Holland and enjoyed a good reputation among the people. He gave the villa its current name 'Paviljoen Welgelegen'. Louis Napoleon enjoyed his stay there, but left in a hurry in 1810 when he was forced to abdicate the throne by his brother Napoleon, who felt he was being too 'nice' to his subjects. His brother Napoleon then annexed Holland, making the King function redundant. Three years later after the War of 1812 Welgelegen became the property of the government of the Netherlands.
From 1814 to her death in 1828 Princes Wilhelmina of Prussia, who remembered the villa from her marriage, kept the villa as a summer palace and opened it to the public as a museum of modern art. After Wilhelmina died, Welgelegen housed many museums that later moved to Amsterdam or Leiden. In 1885 the 'Museum van Levende Nederlandsche Meesters' was closed (especially since most of the 'levende meesters' or living masters had since deceased), but the 'Koloniaal Museum' (1871-1923) and the 'Museum voor Kunstnijverheid' (1877-1926) remained open. When the Frans Hals Museum moved to its present location on the Klein Heiligland, the 'Fotografisch Museum' (1913-ca.1918) was opened here (now called Spaarnestad Photo).
Unlike Teylers Museum, that was built at the same time, Welgelegen lost its museum function and has been in use since 1930 by the Provinciale Staten as the seat of government for the Province of North Holland. Since the last restoration in 2009, the private park grounds and some of the rooms are open to the public during office hours, while the larger meeting rooms are open to the public for walking tours only one day of the year on Monumenten Dag.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.