The former royal residence closest to my home is just about a 20 minute walk. The Prinsenhof in Groningen with its garden, the Prinsentuin.

The Prinsenhof

The site used to be the residence of the villicus, the representative of the sovereign, back then the Bishop of Utrecht. Afterwards for years the buildings housed religious groups. 1569 the first bishop of Groningen and Drenthe made it into his residence, as did some stadtholders of the provinces in the following years. After 1594 it became the residence of the Princes of Nassau and the stadtholders of Groningen and Drenthe. Their main residences were however in The Hague and Leeuwarden, so they didn’t spent too much time here. It was occasionally used by the stadtholders until the end of the 18th century.

After the French occupation the court became a military storehouse, a boarding school, a National Court, a military hospital, barracks and even a laboratory. In 1912 the municipality of Groningen took over the building. It was rented out for years and eventually restored just before World War II. After the war the regional radio and tv-channel RONO, now RTV Noord took residence until 2005. The outside of the building was restored to look like a 17th/18th century building. The gate from 1642 is still there and is the entrance to the building.

Finally in 2012 the property was converted into a four-star hotel called the Prinsenhof. Inside the hotel doesn’t really have old features anymore, but it looks great anyway. And it is a wonderful place to have a tea/coffee or lunch, even if you are not staying at the hotel. The Restaurant is called Nassau. Among the hotel guests in 2013 were King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, wo toured the province just after the accession to the throne of the king. Also a few pop stars have stayed the night in this hotel, including Axl Rose and Slash of Guns N’ Roses in 2022.

The Prinsentuin

The Prince’s Garden was created in 1626 for the Nassau stadtholders with a rose garden, herb garden and beautiful berceaus. Walls are all around this lovely Renaissance garden. In one of the five beds, box hedges were planted in the shape of the crowned letters W and A, the initials of Count Willem Frederik of Nassau-Diez, the stadtholder of Groningen 1650-1664, and his wife Albertine Agnes, who was born a Princess of Orange-Nassau.

The garden is an oasis of peace in the middle of the busy city centre of Groningen. There are two entrances. Special is the Zonnewijzerpoort (sundial gate), which is the main entrance. Annually a Poets in the Prinsentuin event is being organized. When the weather is good you might also find a small open air tearoom here.

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