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“Windows on the past strengthen our understanding of the present and
   act as a guide for our decision making well into the future.”

– KidazzleInk, 2013.

Windows on the Past

Windows on the Past

In an earlier blog entitled “Bad Gastein – R n R in the Hohe Tauern National Park”, I  talked bout how you can sometimes be lucky enough to turn up a real “GEM”, even when you’re just muddling through with your own passionate, yet haphazard, “Seek and Discover” system for identifying preferred sightseeing hot spots.

Well yes….BINGO! We’d now found TWO SUCH GEMS and both during the same journey through Europe. First there’d been beautiful little Bad Gastein and now, here we were at this interesting 16th Century Manor Home called Willet-Holthuysen Museum.

Ceiling probably painter by Jacob de Wit

Ceiling probably painter by Jacob de Wit

And we’d literally just stumbled upon it …. what a surprising little “find” it turned out to be! Like many people, we usually spend way too much precious time trying to sort through the chaff from the wheat, so that we can make the most of our precious sightseeing and locate the finest of what’s on offer. For Amsterdam, we’d already been through this somewhat extensive exercise and yet still carefully selected many of the usual Amsterdam activities (because they are just so good). Unfortunately, we’d been unable (well perhaps that should read…. unwilling to ….negotiate the extremely long queues required) to see either the Anne Frank House or the newly opened Rijk’s Museum.

So initially, knowing nothing at all about the treasures that lay within this manor home museum, we casually paid the minimal fee (no long queues here, no precious hours spent waiting), grabbed our “oh so convenient”, English Audio Tour Guides and ambled very sleepily off to begin exploring.

Let me just say we got way more than we were expecting! The historical treasures and memories cocooned within these walls were a truly remarkable surprise! My dearly beloved and I still continue to talk about this delightful experience and the historical charm of the home.

Beautiful Clock

Beautiful Clock

Willet-Holthuysen Museum boasts a quality fine art collection and an historical art library, an eclectic range of historical furnishings, beautiful silverware and antique German porcelain as well as Venetian glassware collections. But the absolute best part of all this, is presentation…it is all so well presented and maintained, with a lot of it’s historical tales still intact. We initially thought that he home was completely original. However, on further review, we find it was largely refurbished with a rather eclectic range of original pieces from the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries.

Art works everywhere!

Art works everywhere!

Yet the home is made even more interesting by the fact that it also provides an historical window into the private lives of the rich and affluent in Amsterdam in the 19th Century. We enjoyed the traditional neo-classical ambiance and learnt so much about this grand era. We were able to wonder through the old tiled kitchen, the ballroom, the “Blue Room” (Men’s Room), an enormous pantry, bedroom, sitting room, formal dining room, drawing room, garden room, hallways, stairwells and so much more. It was an amazing four floors of Manor Home, three of which were open to the public.

The Garden Room

The Garden Room

We’d felt like we’d been transported back in time!

And you know….. I didn’t even see that Dr Who Chariot outside anywhere…. Errrr, I think I mean “Tardis” (well you know the time-transport thingy anyway). I know it just has to have been out there waiting somewhere near this wonderful home; just waiting to beam us way back into the past as we crossed the threshold… way back an amazing couple of hundred years or so ago! Yes i must have been there….or how else could we have had a time warp experience such as this??

Red Room

Red Room

But on a more serious note, for those of us who do like to explore the history and stimulate  our “grey matter” (aka cerebral connections and synapses), here are a few of this home’s details:

The Willet-Holthuysen Home is thought to have been built around the 1680s for a Mr Jacob Hop, the then Mayor of Amsterdam. Later of course, it was bought by the young Louisa Holthuysen’s Father. Shortly after he passed away, Louisa finally married her beau Abraham Willet. It is said that  Louisa’s father never actually wanted to give his blessings to this marriage. However, despite this, Louisa and Abraham (who had been quite serious sweethearts for a long time prior to old Mr Holthuysen’s passing) went on to spend many years together as husband and wife. They carefully restored the old family home and amassed the most wonderful collection of art work and  European treasure.

Meet the Willet-Holthuysens

Meet the Willet-Holthuysens

I’ve recently read that they may also have owned another equally luxurious residence in France… However, I’m not quite sure about this. All I can say is that their Amsterdam home was most remarkable. We just loved it. What a wonderful sightseeing GEM and a lovely little window into the past!

The Blue Room

The Blue Room

The Formal Dining Room

The Formal Dining Room

The Grand Bedroom

The Grand Bedroom

Going up the Stairwell

Seen from the Stairwell

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