This is Hofwijck, the bijou residence of the foremost scientist of his age, Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). He was a man of ideas, testing them himself with instruments he designed and built. Not only a scientist but also a poet, composer and art lover, he was truly gifted.

The garden of the Hofwijck estate is shaped like a human body, a design he lent from the Roman architect Vitruvius. The house – it must be the tiniest estate in the Netherlands – is conceived as the head, the bridge over the moat the neck. The long avenues are arms, the orchard is the belly. The Westeinde street bisecting the estate is the middle. The body below the belt is no longer part of the estate – it has been built over to create Voorburg Station.

I did wonder how Huygen’s family would have fitted into the house. If I remember correctly he had five children, four boys and a girl. He must have kept them in a garret, or housed them away from the estate, for it is clearly a summer retreat built for one man, a man of genius that wanted to make clear he was a genious.

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