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:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.