5 tips for The Hague

The Hague Skyline
© Sergiyn | Dreamstime.com

The Hague is a very well-known and popular tourist destination, along with Rotterdam and Amsterdam. With just under 527,000 inhabitants, it is the third largest city in the Netherlands. It is the seat of parliament and government. At the same time, The Hague has been the residence of the royal family since 1831. It is the only major Dutch city that lies directly on the sea. Only fifteen minutes separate the historic old town from wide sandy beaches.

The old town is characterized by the typical red brick houses and the atmosphere is very cozy. In addition, The Hague offers a super mix of culture and nature. Thus, there are many museums, but also enormous sand dunes and the most famous seaside resort on the Dutch North Sea coast: Scheveningen.

Tip 1: Mauritshuis

The Mauritshuis, built between 1633 and 1644, is a noble palace located in The Hague in the Netherlands. It has served as a museum since 1822 and at the same time houses the Royal Picture Gallery. In the very interesting and valuable Flemish and Dutch collection there are masterpieces from the 17th century, which are unique in the world. One of the most famous works is the exhibited painting of the Girl with the Pearl Earrings by the painter Jan Vermeer.

Mauritshuis in The Hague
© Markovskiy | Dreamstime.com

The building, which today serves as a museum and is open to everyone, is located right next to the Binnenhof.

The construction of the Mauritshuis was begun in 1633 and was completed upon the return of Moritz of Nassau, who was the governor of the Dutch colony in Brazil from 1636 to 1644. After his return, this building served as the residence of the namesake Moritz of Nassau (Dutch Maurits). 

The collection contains masterpieces from the years 1748 to 1806 that belonged to Prince William V, after which his son, King William I, donated the collection to the Dutch state. This beautiful gesture allowed the collection to grow considerably over the past 200 years. Thus, 200 paintings became almost 800 paintings, some of which can be seen in this museum today. Besides the paintings from the royal families, there are also donations from private individuals.

Tip 2: Binnenhof

The well-known Binnenhof, which means Inner Court, is located in the center of The Hague and is a complex of buildings where the Dutch Parliament, in Dutch Staten – Generaal, has gathered since 1446. As the city developed more and more from the 13th century, the city of The Hague continued to develop around the Binnenhof. For this reason, the Binnenhof had several important functions throughout The Hague’s history.

Binnenhof at The Hague
© Dudlajzov | Dreamstime.com

In the 17th century, which was considered the golden age, the Binnenhof was the center of European diplomats and diplomacy, thus it was also declared a Rijksmonument.

It is reported that the Binnenhof used to be called “Rolgebouw”, which means courthouse. Also, very old wall remains were found from the time when the Binnenhof was newly founded. However, until today it is not possible to say anything exactly about the history of the Binnenhof, but it is said that the oldest building was built in the late 12th or early 13th century.

Another assumption is that the count Floris IV. acquired the whole area around the courthouse already in 1229.

What is certain, however, is that the son of the count, William II of Holland started building a castle almost 30 years later. Thus, the old hunting seat of the family was replaced. However, Count William II could not see the completion of the castle. But his son Floris V completed the construction and thus moved the residence to ‘s-Gravehage in 1291. Due to this transfer of Floris V, the surrounding area also developed over the years and became the political center of the Netherlands in 1593.

Today, the building houses the meeting rooms of the First and Second Chambers of the Dutch States General.

Tip 3: Noordeinde Palace

Located in the center of The Hague, the Royal Palace Noordeinde today serves as the official residence of the Dutch monarchy. The Noordeinde Palace is located near the Binnenhof, where the seat of the Parliament of the Netherlands is also located.

Noordeinde Palace in The Hague

The building, which is also known as Oude Hof, was built in 1533 and rebuilt in 1640 by Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen. However, in 1814, King William I of the Netherlands made further changes to the building, which unfortunately were destroyed in a fire in 1948. Therefore, the building served as an international school for a long time.

In the 1970s, the building underwent extensive restoration and has since served as the official and working residence of the King. In addition, state visits are received in this palace today. Furthermore, the former Queen Beatrix decorated the palace with parts of her important collections of modern art.

On the strict classicist facade there is the coat of arms of the Orange family, which is only loosened by the gable. In front of the palace there are also monuments to William the Silent and Queen Wilhelmina, which can be visited today.

Tip 4: Peace Palace

The Vredespaleis (Peace Palace) is located in the north of the Dutch city of The Hague and was built in 1913 in the neo-Renaissance style on Carnegieplein.

Furthermore, this building is today the seat of the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law and the International Law Library. 

In addition to these many rooms, the Vredespaleis Visitor Center houses a permanent exhibition on the history of the peace movement and on the institutions housed in the Peace Palace.

Peace Palace in The Hague
© Markovskiy | Dreamstime.com

Thanks to the peace movements towards the end of the 19th century in Europe and America, the idea of building a Peace Palace was born. Thus, in the Hague Peace Conferences in 1899 and 1907, it was decided to build this palace. Here, of course, the Court of Arbitration of The Hague played an important role, because thanks to its approval, this could be done.

Today, for this reason, the Court of Arbitration is also located in this building.

The red brick building was erected between 1907 and 1913 in a neo-Renaissance style. Moreover, the US entrepreneur patron Andrew Carnegie, who lived in the years 1835 to 1919, financed most of this building. For this reason, the building was opened with an official ceremony in the presence of Andrew Carnegie’s financier and the Dutch royal family on August 28, 1913.

Inside the building one can see clear classicist and gothic influences, similar to the many museum buildings and universities donated by Carnegie in the USA.

Tip 5: Kunstmuseum The Hague

Many of you will still know the art museum under the name Gemeentemuseum. But because the word art museum better expresses what you can see in the beautiful building on the border with Scheveningen, a new name was chosen.

Even Barack Obama came to the art museum to see Mondrian’s painting Victory Boogie Woogie. Victory Boogie Woogie is not only the artist’s last work, but also his most famous. Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was the foremost exponent of Dutch Constructivism, and the hallmarks of his final creative period were geometric shapes and the use of the primary colors red, blue and yellow, complemented by gray, white and black. Because the squares seem to dance, the oil painting was named Victory Boogie Woogie. Experts claim this is the most important work of 20th century Dutch painting. The art museum owns about 300 Mondrian works, including Mill in Sunlight, Lighthouse at Westkapelle, The Gray and Composition with Red, Yellow, Blue and Black.

Mondrian's painting Victory Boogie Woogie
© Rob Van Hees | Dreamstime.com

With 160,000 works, the art museum is one of Europe’s most important museums. The collection ranges from historical period pieces to fashion, Delft blue and contemporary art. Works by Monet, Picasso and Kandinsky as well as Sol Lewitt, Francis Bacon and Louise Bourgeois are also on display. Also of world class are the special exhibitions.

The art museum building is also beautiful. Architect H.P. Berlage created this Art Deco building of yellow bricks in the 1930s. It is also an experience from the inside, not least because of the successful incidence of light and the colorful tiles. In the large atrium with its glass roof, you can enjoy coffee and cake.