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Amerongen Castle

A Mansion in Dutch Classicist Style

The history of Amerongen Castle dates back to the year 1286. Like any proper castle, it was destroyed & rebuilt several times during the centuries that followed; the current castle was built between 1674 and 1684, after its precursor was burned down by French troops in 1673. King Louis XIV had invaded the Dutch Republic the year before, and to finance the war effort, his intendant in Utrecht demanded loadsamoney from the occupied territories’ propertied residents, under threat of burning down their estates. Amerongen Castle’s lord & master Godard Adriaan van Reede, who was the Dutch ambassador to Brandenburg-Prussia at the time, didn’t give in, and it was left mainly to his wife Margaretha Turnor, who did not join her husband abroad, to oversee the construction of a new mansion in Dutch classicist style after Louis withdrew his troops from the Republic.

Amerongen Castle
Amerongen Castle

The entrance to the castle is reached by a double-decked bridge across the moat — the upper level, which leads to the main hall, was meant for the family & their guests, while the lower level, leading to the basement, was for the servants, and today, is for visitors. The drawing room on the main floor, which commands a fine prospect of the wetlands along the Nederrijn river, features two marble mantelpieces from Dresden with equestrian portraits of Friedrich Wilhelm & his consort Dorothea, a gift from the Great Elector of Brandenburg himself, who also donated a hundred oak trees for the reconstruction of the castle. Other rooms that are of special interest are the dining room & the gobelin room on the bel étage, both refurbished around 1900 by architect Pierre Cuypers, who also built the Rijksmuseum & De Haar Castle. The imposing picture gallery on the upper floor, reminiscent of the one at the Mauritshuis, gives access to the private rooms, including those where the German Emperor Wilhelm II initially stayed after he fled the world stage in 1918.

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The oldest depiction of Amerongen Castle can be found on a survey map dating from 1597. It shows a residential tower with lower buildings attached, surrounded by a moat, located in the Nederrijn’s floodplain, with the village of Amerongen nearby. A map of the estate dating from 1683 reveals that the castle’s gardens were expanded considerably since the area was first surveyed.


When Wilhelm II arrived at Amerongen Castle in 1918, Count Godard van Aldenburg Bentinck offered him hospitality, initially just for three days, but ultimately until 1920, when the Emperor moved to a house of his own in Doorn. In 1921, a distant relative, Lady Norah Bentinck, wrote a book about it: The Ex-Kaiser in Exile. The book was translated into German the very same year, under the title Der Kaiser im Exil. (After the Emperor had moved to Doorn, his aide-de-camp Sigurd von Ilsemann married Count Godard’s daughter Elisabeth, and when their son Wilhelm was born the year after, the Emperor became his godfather.)


Amerongen Castle is where Emperor Wilhelm II abdicated from the German throne on 28 November 1918. The desk at which he sat when signing the abdication papers is still to be seen in the gobelin room.