HISTORY

GIVEN A RIGHTFUL RESTORATION

The Groninger Monumentenfonds (Groningen Monumental Fund) described Prinsenhof as one of the most beautiful buildings in the city of Groningen, and we couldn’t agree more. ‘There are very few buildings that tell so much about the city’s history as this monument’, said to Dick Janssen, former director of the Groningen Monumental Fund.

The building’s origin lies with the Brethren of Communal Life, who lived here rather modestly around 1436 and rebuilt their home to an impressive church in which the Grand Café is situated. Where used to be the church’s nave, is now a bar; where used to be the chancel, is now an elevated lounge. The ancient bricks along the sides of the Grand Café still show traces of the old Crosses.

In 1569 the complex was rebuilt into an episcopal palace of the first bishop of Groningen and Drenthe. After he deceased, the palace was again rebuilt, this time into the ‘Herenhof’ (Master’s Court), which was home to the governor George Lalaing. This was the beginning of Prinsenhof’s history of being the governors’ residence, among which the princes of Orange-Nassau. In the 17th century, the Prinsentuin, the garden, was edified. The letters W and A, which you can find in the current garden’s box hedges, stem from governor Willem Frederik and his wife Albertine Agnes.

You can enter the Prinsentuin through the sundial gate at the Turfsingel. The special sundial, which is the gate’s eponym, was placed in 1731. It shows you the time in various ways. The Latin text has the following message: ‘Past’s time is nothing, future’s is uncertain, present’s is fragile. Don’t waste yours.’ To kill time, the ladies of the court strolled through the two tree arches. The Prinsentuin is still well-known for those fairy-tale green paths.

After the last governor left in 1795 as a consequence of the French Revolution, the Prinsenhof was used as a military hospital until 1905. During WWI, the military police stayed at the Prinsenhof.

This was followed by a period of vacancy and decay until the radio and tv station RTV Noord occupied the complex. After a thorough renovation, in 2012, Prinsenhof became a 4-star boutique hotel with two high-end restaurants. This is the first time in its entire history that the Prinsenhof became publicly accessible.