Soestdijk is a former palace of the Dutch Royal Family. It consists of a central block and two wings. It was the home for over six decades of Queen Juliana and her husband, Prince Bernhard until their deaths in 2004.
In the middle of the seventeenth century the Country house on the Zoestdijk was built for Cornelis de Graeff. After the rampjaar his son Jacob de Graeff sold it to Stadhouder William III. Then the palace originally started as a hunting lodge that was built between 1674 and 1678 by Maurits Post, who was also involved in building two other royal palaces, Huis ten Bosch Palace and Noordeinde Palace. William left the Netherlands in 1688 to reside in London as William III of England.
During the French invasion in 1795, the palace was seized as a spoil of war and turned into an inn for French troops. When Louis Bonaparte became King of Holland, he took possession of it and had it extended and refurnished.
It was presented to William II of the Netherlands in 1815 in recognition of his services at the Battle of Waterloo. From 1816 to 1821, the palace was significantly expanded by adding two wings, the northern or Baarn wing, and the southern or Soest wing. In 1842 its contents were enriched by the addition of the neoclassical furnishings of his former palace in Brussels, today the Palais des Académies.
Soestdijk became the property of the State of the Netherlands in 1971, though it was used by Princess Juliana (Queen of the Netherlands from 1948–1980) and Prince Bernhard as their official residence until both of their deaths in 2004. Soestdijk Palace then remained empty and unused for over a year before its opening to the public. Since spring 2006, it has been possible to visit.
A forest, the Baarnse Bos, is adjacent to the palace. It was developed as a French landscape garden between 1733 and 1758.References:
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.