DURBAN, March 26 (RIA Novosti) – The Grand Embassy left Moscow for Holland in early 1697, taking with it 35 volunteers, including Cossack Sergeant Pyotr Mikhailov of the Preobrazhensky regiment, which was in fact the assumed name under which Tsar Peter the Great traveled.
On August 7, 1697, Tsar Peter and 18 volunteers arrived in Amsterdam. The very next day, he left for Zaandam, signed up as a shipwright at a local shipyard and began mastering the skills of the trade.
On August 16, 1697, the Grand Embassy, including Tsar Peter, who had returned from Zaandam and was still traveling incognito, made its formal entrance into Amsterdam.
On September 9, the keel of a frigate was laid in Amsterdam under the supervision of a Dutch foreman named Paul. In addition to working at the shipyard, Tsar Peter conducted diplomatic correspondence and visited local museums, the theater, textile manufactories and an anatomical laboratory.
On September 17, the Grand Embassy was received in The Hague. On September 25, its members were officially received by Stadholder and King of England, Scotland and Ireland, William III. Even in the presence of the monarch, Tsar Peter did not reveal his true identity.
In the autumn of 1716, Tsar Peter once again visited Holland incognito. Like during his first visit, he inspected ships, textile manufactories and workshops. The Russian tsar also met with sailors and carpenters.
Almost a century later, from July 2-5, 1814, Tsar Alexander I paid an official visit to The Hague. He was welcomed as a liberator, as Napoleon’s army had just been defeated. France no longer ruled Holland, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands was reinstated. The tsar was greeted by an official delegation. In turn, Alexander I organized a luxurious ball at the Huis ten Bosch palace and had the park specially illuminated for the event.
On July 3, 1814, the Russian tsar visited Zaandam and the House of Peter the Great. He laid a marble plaque with the inscription “Petro Mayno. Alexander” above the fireplace.
On September 26, 1815, Tsar Alexander I paid an unofficial visit to Brussels. Belgium was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from May 1815 until 1830. While in Brussels, Alexander I met with King William I of the Netherlands and Crown Prince William of Orange. He also conducted negotiations over the arrangements for the wedding between the Crown Prince and Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna, the daughter of Russian Tsar Paul I and the granddaughter of Catherine the Great.
In January 1816, Crown Prince William of Orange arrived in St. Petersburg. On February 9, 1816, he married Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna.
The wedding celebrations lasted for several months. Judging by contemporary accounts, one of the most dazzling events was held on June 6, 1816 in Pavlovsk.
After she arrived in the Netherlands, Anna Pavlovna started learning Dutch and the history of the country, and researching the ties between Russia and the Netherlands. The vast collection of documents she put together was bequeathed to the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences after her death in 1865.
Queen Anna Pavlovna remains highly popular with the people of the Netherlands. Virtually every local city has a street named after her. There is even a city in northern Holland named in her honor.
In the spring of 1839, Grand Duke Alexander Nikolayevich, the heir apparent to the Russian throne and the future Tsar Alexander II, visited The Hague. He and Alexander, the second son of Anna Pavlovna, visited the House of Peter the Great in Zaandam.
The painting “Russian Tsar Alexander II Visits the House of Peter the Great on April 17, 1839,” which depicts this event, is kept inside the house.
In the autumn of 1839, King William I of the Netherlands visited Russia. The Dutch Reformed Church was opened in his presence on St. Petersburg’s Nevsky Prospekt, an event of great significance for the local Dutch community.
In May 1874, Tsar Alexander II arrived in Amsterdam for the silver jubilee (25 years) celebrations of the reign of King William III.
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