I went on a daytrip to Holland today. It was for work. And then later in the evening I visited Schloss Benrath. I really can’t complain.
Schloss Benrath was built in the late 1700’s and sits on the bank of the Rhein a couple of miles south of Düsseldorf. It takes roughly about a year and half to get there on an apocalypse tram. Or, to be more precise, about 25 minutes. But that is a lot of time when you’re in a race against the setting sun.
I got to Benrath at about 9m, so only had about an hour and a half to play with before darkness set in. I didn’t get a chance to see much of Benrtah, the town itself, or the enormous palace gardens, but both seemed really nice. Tonight, I was here just to see the palace.
Pink, Baroque, lovely. The palace sits, raised slightly, in front of a circular, tree lined pond. Geese and goslings, ducks and ducklings swam about the pond, which reflected the pinkness of the palace and the pale orange of the retiring sun. There are two wings on either side of the palace, which curve about the perimeter of the pond.
To the back of the palace is another pond; a long one that seems to stretch on forever. Here nature has been tamed and controlled, in a very French, ordered way. A mini Versailles. The lawns were full of people, sitting watching the world go by or walking their dogs. (One person, would you believe it, was walking a bear. A barking bear! I jumped, ever so slightly, when I saw that beast.)
There is an Englischer Garten too, full of roses and tulips and other flowers I couldn’t put a name to. An Englischer Garten with tulips. You see, Mum, there really is no excuse.
Then there was an orangerie, an enormous orangerie. I’m partial to an orange myself, but these lots must have taken it to a whole different level. The orangerie was larger than the actual palace itself.
Schloss Benrath seems to get overlooked. It isn’t on most people’s radars. Whilst my spinach ravioli was cooking (two days down, six to go), I was studying the new Düsseldorf street plan map that I’d just bought. I was trying to figure out the best way to the palace, when a housemate walked in and offered to help me. ‘I’ve been once,’ they said, ‘but that was over ten years ago, and I was there only by accident’. That was coming from someone who had lived in Düsseldorf all their life. So we worked out the best way to get there, and off we went.
It is worth remembering, though, that this is the Rhein land. Palaces here are a plenty. So if Benrath should fail to get the attention it deserves, it’s because it’s a small fish in a big pond. If you head south there are palaces and castles scattered across the entire landscape. I remember travelling from Koblenz to Strasbourg, and for much of that journey the train followed the Rhein. On both the French and the German side, there were palaces and castles and fortresses almost every 200 meters are so. This patch of land has, over the years, been fiercely thought over. Although watching the geese paddle around the Schloßweiher, you would never have thought so.Read more