That I haven’t added much to this blog in the past year, isn’t because I didn’t visit noble and royal castles and palaces. Somehow the year was filled with all kind of events, travels and personal celebrations. I didn’t manage to find much time for my blogs. The year started slowly, and it wasn’t until the late Spring that I really started visiting places. A lot were noble estates, but also a few royal castles and palaces were on the list. I visited them in three countries.
The year unexpectedly started on 18 January 2023 with an evening visit to Nienoord, a noble estate in Leek, in the northeast of the Netherlands. Inside the restaurant, the director of Adel in Nederland and I attended a very interesting lecture about Occa Ripperda by Redmer Alma, which was preceded by a tasting session. We also had a look at the exhibition about Occa Ripperda on the second floor of the manor. Top chef Carolina Verhoeven had prepared several recipes from the cookbook of Occa Ripperda, a noblewoman from The Netherlands. She led a very interesting life. John and I enjoyed onion soup with rye bread and fennel, beef pie, parsnip, as well as almond cake with semolina. It all tasted surprisingly good, so honestly we are looking forward to the publication of the book, so that we maybe can try to create some 17th century recipes at home ourselves.
During their German state visit, King Charles III and Queen Camilla of the United Kingdom spent March 30, 2023, in Hamburg, Germany. I found myself a hotel in Hamburg-Harburg. While walking around Harburg in the evening before the visit, I discovered signs saying “Schloss” (Castle). Of course, they made me curious … and I found Harburg Castle. I could only walk around, but it will be interesting to see what it will look like after the ongoing renovation.
Easter Sunday, 9 April 2023, was a nice day to pay a visit to the Fraeylemaborg in Slochteren, in the northeast of the Netherlands. I met the Easter bunny, saw an art exhibition, and for the first time I was able to visit the attic of the castle. Also the park is always a nice place for a walk.
Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, opened the doors of their new underground expansion on 22 April 2023. A week earlier, on Friday, 14 April 2023, the media was invited to have a look (see report). I was able to have a look at the presentation “De Oranjes”, the temporary exhibitions “Masterpiece” and “Orange Blossom” and a display about the building works. I still haven’t managed to pay my first proper visit since the renovation of the palace.
On Whit Sunday, also known as “Dag van het Kasteel” (Day of the Castle), I visited yet another noble manor in the northeast of the Netherlands: the Menkemaborg in Uithuizen. They ended up in third place in the election of Most Romantic Castle of the Netherlands. “Plaisir Courtois”, a court dance group from Groningen danced and in historical costumes pretended to be people living and working in the manor.
Two friends from the USA and United Kingdom, both like me very interested in royalty, came to the Netherlands. Our initial plan was to visit Palace Noordeinde in The Hague, but unfortunately our plans didn’t work out. Instead, we followed in the footsteps of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, and on 29 July 2023 discovered the castle of Amerongen and Huis Doorn, where he lived in the last 23 years of his life.
After a rainy day at the fortress of Bourtange, in the northeast of the Netherlands, friends and I had a quick look at the outside of Burcht Wedde at the end of the afternoon on 13 August 2023.
I celebrated my 50th birthday with six days Lisbon, Portugal. It was a challenge to include as many royal places as possible, but I managed. After a first day in Lisbon itself, I spent 5 October 2023 – national day – in Sintra. Don’t expect to be able to visit more than two of the many palaces and castles there in one day. On my list were the most important ones: the National Palace of Sintra and the National Palace of Pena. I passed the Moorish Castle and saw it from both palaces, but didn’t visit.
The next day I had a look at the outside of Belém Palace, currently the residence of the president, in Lisbon. Furthermore the National Palace of Ajuda was on the program. On 7 October 2023 I was in Mafra for a royal wedding, so I hardly saw anything of the National Palace of Mafra.
The last palace on my list was the National Palace of Queluz.
Illness and lots of other things prevented me from visit anything else. However the year ended only on 30 December 2023, when I visited Palace Soestdijk and Zeist Castle. At Christmas time it is always special to visit palaces and castles, because of the Christmas decoration.
I wish you all a Happy New Year 2024 and hope for many more manor, castle and palace visits.