Building began in 1684 for Stadtholder William III and his consort, Mary II of England. For over three hundred years, Het Loo was the summer residence of the House of Orange-Nassau, which became the Dutch royal family.
The Dutch Baroque architecture of Het Loo takes pains to minimize the grand stretch of its construction, so emphatic at Versailles, and presents itself as just a fine gentleman's residence. Het Loo is not a palace but, as the title of its engraved portrait states, a "Lust-hof" (a retreat, or "pleasure house"). Nevertheless, it is situated entre cour et jardin ("between court and garden") as Versailles and its imitators, and even as in fine Parisian private houses.
The dry paved and gravelled court, lightly screened from the road by a wrought-iron grill, is domesticated by a traditional plat of box-bordered green with the homely touch of a cross in a circle you'd find in a bougeois garden. The volumes of the palace are rhythmically broken in their massings. They work down symmetrically, expressing the subordinate roles of their use and occupants, and the final outbuildings in Marot's plan extend along the public thoroughfare, like a well-made and delightfully regular street.
The "Great Garden" lies privately behind the house. This Dutch Baroque Garden, when miscalled the "Versailles of Holland" serves to show more differences than similarities. Still within the Baroque general formula established by André Le Nôtre: perfect symmetry, axial layout with radiating gravel walks, parterres with fountains, basins and statues. The garden, as it appears in an engraving, was designed by Le Nôtre's nephew, Claude Desgotz. Daniel Marot and Desgotz's Het Loo garden does not dominate the landscape as Louis' German imitators do, though in his idealized plan Desgotz extends the axis. The main garden, with conservative rectangular beds instead of more elaborately shaped ones, is an enclosed space surrounded by raised walks, as a Renaissance garden might be, tucked into the woods for private enjoyment, the garden not of a king but of a stadhouder. At its far end a shaded crosswalk of trees disguises the central vista. The orange trees set out in wooden boxes and wintered in an Orangery, were a feature of all gardens, did double duty for the House of Orange-Nassau.
Restoration of the garden at Het Loo. In 1960 Queen Wilhelmina declared that after her death Het Loo palace would go to the State, she died there in 1962. After a thorough restoration it now houses a national museum and library devoted to the House of Orange-Nassau in Dutch history. Het Loo also houses the Museum van de Kanselarij der Nederlandse Orden (Museum of the Chancery of the Netherlands Orders of Knighthood), with books and other material concerning decorations and medals which form a separate section in the library. Starting in 1970 the lost gardens of Het Loo were fully restored, in time to celebrate its tricentennial in 1984. Its new brickwork, trelliswork and ornaments were as raw then as they must have been in 1684 but will mellow with time. Thanks to Wikipedia for the above information
pictures taken in 1993 by John Metcalf