Home to His Royal Highness King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, and the official seat of government in the Netherlands, The Hague boasts majestic and illustrious architecture which reflects the city’s wealthy cultural and political heritage. A modern skyline dismisses a striking scene against a backdrop of centuries-old historical buildings which hug a popular North Sea surf spot.
For a town that has existed since the 13th century, The Hague has an array of museums that are overburdened. But while the typical tourist attractions are highly recommended — and showcased here this travel guide also attempts to encourage visitors to find the off-the-beaten-path spots. No matter what, the diverse architecture, modern art exhibitions and inspiring stores will amazement any design enthusiast.
Binnenhof: A complex of buildings which make up the Dutch center of Parliament
Location: Binnenhof 8a, 2513 AA
Noteworthy: This-13th century courtyard boasts spectacular medieval brickwork and architraves.
The political leaders of the Netherlands make each of the most important decisions within the confines of the Binnenhof. The gothic Ridderzaal (Knight’s Hall) is employed for the state opening of Parliament each third Tuesday in September on Prinsjesdag (Prince’s Day) — it’s on September 17 at 2013 — if the king has been escorted to Parliament in his golden carriage to deliver a speech from the throne.
Famous tours of the Binnenhof, Ridderzaal and the chambers of Parliament offer insightful insight to the Hague’s political history. Those seeking to get a fast retreat from the bustling roads should look for refuge in this silent square.
The Binnenhof is both the geographical and historical heart of the town, along with being home to the Dutch Parliament. This view from the Hofvijver pond at the city center looks toward the Parliament home and is a great example of The Hague’s old-meets-new aesthetic.
The stately light tan arrangement on the left is your Mauritshuis museum, in which the renowned painting”Girl with the Pearl Earring” by painter Johannes Vermeer is placed if it’s not on traveling exhibitions. Because of renovation work that the Mauritshuis is currently closed until mid-2014. Most of the Mauritshuis collection could be viewed at the Gemeentemuseum. The tower directly with the Mauritshuis has become the Dutch prime minister’s office as 1982.
More info: Mauritshuis
The Peace Prize: Home of the International Court of Justice, Permanent Court of Arbitration, Peace Palace Library and The Hague Academy of International Law
Price: 8,50 euros (about U.S.$11) to get a guided excursion
Location: Carnegieplein 2, 2517 KJ
Noteworthy: This year the Peace Palace celebrates its centennial.
Het Vredespaleis (The Peace Prize ) is The Hague’s most photographed landmark, and with just cause. The arrangement itself is as expansive as the thought that brought about its existence from the early 1900s, as it was built to foster world peace. Today the building is used for the identical function. A guided tour gives visitors a behind-the-scenes view at the goings-on of among the city’s most iconic and precious buildings.
More info: Vredespaleis
Noordeinde Palace: The functioning palace of the king
Location: Noordeinde 68, 762514 GL
Stroll across the elegant shopping street Noordeinde, and you can’t miss the neoclassical palace supporting expansive and gilded gates. Constructed in 1553 and inhabited by Dutch royals since the early 1600s, the palace is now the official working palace for King Willem-Alexander and his team. On Prinsjesdag (Prince’s Day), visitors and residents can observe the royal procession of the gouden koets (gold knob ) since it carries the king from Noordeinde Palace to the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) from the Binnenhof, where he reads the”Speech from the Throne,” outlining the government’s fiscal plans for the next year. The procession then returns to the Noordeinde Palace, in which the royal family appears on the palace balcony to tackle an adoring public.
More info: Paleis Noordeinde
Lange Vijverberg: Tree-lined pathway overlooking Parliament
Noteworthy: A romantic spot for strolling hand in hand with somebody special
With more than 988 acres (400 hectares) of woodland, The Hague prides itself on being Europe’s town. Wear comfortable walking shoes and indulge in the numerous tree-lined walkways while admiring the city’s historical structure. The Lange Vijverberg flanks that the Binnenhof and the stately Mauritshuis and can be a beautiful spot where you can respect 13th-century structures and feed the ducks at the Hofvijver pond.
Noteworthy: Stroll beside the ocean prior to grabbing a cocktail.
This recently refurbished boulevard that stretches across The Hague’s seaside town of Scheveningen is just another lovely spot for a quiet stroll.
One of the city’s most notable contemporary sculpture museums, Beelden aan Zee, commissioned a gorgeous collection of 23 sea-inspired sculptures by American sculptor Tom Otterness, who has designed similar public installations in New York.
Pictured here is your largest sculpture, at 12 meters tall. Called”The Herring Eater,” it draws on the Dutch heritage of celebrating the abundant herring season.
More info: Beelden aan Zee
Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel: Scheveningen’smost iconic architecture
Location: Gevers Deynootplein 30, 2586 CK
Noteworthy: Declared a national monument in 1975
Overlooking the North Sea is your expansive Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel, located in the former fisherman’s village of Scheveningen; it dates back almost 200 decades. It was initially a wooden bathing home, and the seawater-filled baths were said to have a curative impact. Just eight years after its 1818 launching, it had been replaced by a stone structure offering more amenities. Centuries and many renovations later, the expansive building still welcomes patrons from all around the world.
Blend a stroll along the boulevard with a cocktail at one of the many beach huts throughout summer.
More info: Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel
Kurzaal Restaurant: Main restaurant at the hotel
Price: 25 to 37,50 euros (about U.S.$32 to $49) to get a supper
Location: Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel, Gevers Deynootplein 30, 2586 CK
Noteworthy: Classic meets modern cuisine
Do not simply admire the opulence of the iconic resort building from the exterior. Venture inside and gaze up at the frescoed ceiling, which was painted from the Brussels artist Van Hoeck at 1904. This historical backdrop is fulfilled with modern furnishings.
More info: Kurzaal Restaurant
Strijkijzer: Skyscraper nicknamed”Iron,” with the sexy new restaurant and bar The Penthouse
Noteworthy: Its nickname stems out of the sleek, triangular shape
The newest restaurant, bar and nightclub at The Hague is located in a skyscraper that’s 433 feet (132 meters) high, called the”Strijkijzer” (“Iron”); it had been designed by architect Paul Bontenbal. The next tallest building in the city uttered the Hague New City Prize and international Emporis Skyscraper Award because of its elegant reinterpretation of classic high-rise architecture. The building draws its inspiration from New York’s Flatiron Building.
The Penthouse Restaurant and SkyBar has a sleek and luxurious interior that provides sweeping views of the city by the 42nd floor of the building.
From the mood to soak up the views in style? Every Sunday, The Penthouse hosts a Sunday Lazy Jazz Lunch, including live performances by local jazz musicians. The music starts at 2:30 p.m.
More info: The Penthouse
The view from The Penthouse Restaurant and SkyBar.
De Boterwaag: Bar, restaurant, cafe
Location: Grote Markt
Noteworthy: Try the trademark bestselling Boterwaag Salade having an ice-cold Dutch beer.
This converted grand café dates back to 1681. Archways stretching around a vaulted ceiling and unique brickwork are reminiscent of neighborhood 17th-century architecture. In reality, you can admire an original old weigh scale out of 1682 that’s displayed in the restaurant. Its being located on the buzzing Grote Markt square signifies there’s always something happening.
More info: De Boterwaag
Lola Bikes and Coffee
Location: Noordeinde 91, 2514 GD
Noteworthy: Best new café from the nation
From the Netherlands, java and bikes are just two of the most prominent cultural activities, and this fresh café and bike shop gets both appropriate. Lola Bikes and Coffee additionally hosts bike tours each Sunday at 8:30 a.m., taking adventurous customers on a Fatbike Experience through forests, beaches and deserts.
More info: Lola Bikes and Coffee
Gemeentemuseum: Municipal museum
Price: 14,50 euros (about U.S.$19); 18 and under, free
Location: Stadhouderslaan 41, 2517 HV
Noteworthy: Houses the works of a few of the most prominent Dutch artists
If you are searching to soak up a few of the best modern art the nation has to offer, this is a fantastic place to get started. Produced by Dutch architect H.P. Berlage, referred to as the Dutch Frank Lloyd Wright, the low-set, sprawling 1930s brick architecture is built in art deco style.
More info: Gemeentemuseum
The museum holds an impressive collection of modern art by some of the world’s most renowned artists, including Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele, Wassily Kandinsky, Louise Bourgeois, Francis Bacon and much more.
Most importantly, the museum displays the world’s largest collection of paintings by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian in its permanent collection, including the artist’s famous”Victory Boogie Woogie” (displayed here). This piece was the abstract painter’s last, unfinished, work.
More info: Mondrian at Gemeentemuseum
Escher Museum: A palace-turned-museum for the works of graphic artist M.C. Escher
Price: 9 euros (about U.S.$12)
Location: Lange Voorhout 74, 2514 EH
Noteworthy: The palace chambers feature stunning chandeliers by artist Hans van Bentem
The former winter palace of Queen Mother Emma of the Netherlands houses the works of celebrated Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher within the confines of a beautifully maintained royal palace. Escher is most known for his geometric lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings.
More info: Escher Museum
The Hague Sculptures: Sculpture exhibition
Location: Lange Voorhout
Noteworthy: The sculptures are swapped out yearly.
Here’s a second recommendation for strolling along the tree-lined boulevard of the Lange Voorhout. Summertime visitors are treated with an outside exhibition showing frequently enormous sculptural works by esteemed artists from around the world.
Antiques niches: Books, antiques and curiosities for sale under the trees
Location: Lange Voorhout
Noteworthy: More Than 70 stalls selling high quality antiques as well as affordable knickknacks.
Another way to enjoy this beautiful part of the town is to wander in and out of stalls at the antiques markets. The markets are on from mid-May until mid-September each Thursday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sketch: Exclusive shopping
Location: Denneweg 4, 2514 CG
Noteworthy: Concept store on one of the oldest roads at The Hague
Rich history and exclusive shopping go hand in hand across the Denneweg, in which the street’s oldest building dates back to 1390. High-fashion boutiques, specialty stores, restaurants and pubs with stately flats above them line the road.
The most striking is that the glass-fronted building belonging to the concept store Sketch, which dates back to 1898. Inside is exciting style, art, curios and more.
The Passage: Indoor shopping promenade
Location: Between Spuistraat, Hofweg and Buitenhof
Noteworthy: The last remaining covered shopping street in Holland
The Passage is a beautiful historical building in the city center dating back over 115 years which houses a collection of boutiques and specialty stores. It’s Holland’s sole remaining covered shopping street; these roads found popularity in major American and European cities in the next half of the 19th century.
The Passage exudes a charm and ambiance rarely found in modern shopping malls. Do some upmarket shopping at the glass-covered arcade, but take a moment to gaze up and respect the stately facade and rich detailing in this national monument.
More info: De Passage
Edwin Pelser: Design shop
Location: Piet Heinstraat 123, 2518 CG
Noteworthy: Interiordesign hot spot
Having worked extensively in the field of design at two notable Dutch design schools — the Design Academy in Eindhoven and the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam — Edwin Pelser opened an advanced design boutique on a charming shopping street in downtown. Fascinated by each kind of design, he intends to demonstrate that design is accessible for everybody.
More info: Edwin Pelser
Resort Mozaic: Boutique hotel in the city center
Location: Laan Copes van Cattenburch 38-40, 2585 GB
Mozaic is a little boutique hotel housed in 2 renovated monumental buildings which date back to 1880. The suites and common regions of the hotel are tastefully finished in modern style.
More info: Resort Mozaic
Hilton The Hague
Location: Zeestraat 35, 2518 AA
Noteworthy: Finest resort for service and location
The brand new Hilton is at a restored 1950s architecture that houses a distinctly modern collection of rooms. The striking Grand Café Pearl is a superb option for dining, with its own decor completely motivated by the famous”Girl with a Pearl Earring” painting.
More info: Hilton The Hague, Grand Café Pearl
F.A.S.T: Free Architecture Surf Terrain
Location: Strandweg 1A, 2586 JK, Scheveningen
Noteworthy: Hippest fresh surfers’ village, beach hostel, surf store, surfing lessons, bar and restaurant, art jobs, parties and museum
The Hague gets the best surf in the nation. Avid surfers or people looking to get into the city’s surf culture could head to F.A.S.T., the Free Architecture Surf Terrain, a cool new surf village which emerged as a response to silent building jobs and vacant land in the Scheveningen area due to the economic downturn. The camping site costs 15 euros (about U.S.$20) per person per night, and the hostel will set you back 20 euros (about U.S.$26). The village consists of various shipping containers to create a recycled aesthetic, and there is an open-air theater.
More info: F.A.S.T.
Palace Garden: A green oasis in town
Location: Behind Noordeinde Palace
Noteworthy: Public garden belonging to the functioning palace of the king
This almost-hidden 17th-century Palace Garden supporting the Noordeinde Palace is a charming public garden appreciated by locals. The park has a pond, walking paths, benches and precious old trees and lawns. Following a day of holiday and design searching, throw a blanket down and relax in this beautiful little hideaway.
The Netherlands really is the land of bikes. Bicycling a great way to get around and watch The Hague fast and with ease, thanks to the brilliant infrastructure set up for cyclists. There are only a couple of basic rules in regards to biking: Keep to the right, use hand signals to let fellow cyclists understand your next move also, if necessary, use your bell to prevent collisions. If your biking skills are a little rusty, the public transportation system is excellent; trams, trains and buses are extremely punctual.
For your third-largest town in the nation, The Hague has a slow pace, so you’ll have a really relaxing escape. A majority of the Dutch natives speak English, also thanks to over 150 international organizations in the area, there are some 60,000 expats residing in The Hague and its surrounding towns. If you find yourself enjoying the business of the Dutch drinks, say,”Gezellig,” which loosely translates to”a pleasant time and decent business.”
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More: City guides for design junkies