Visit The Hague

My online memory tells me that our last visit to Scheveningen was back in 2013 with an uber cute little baby Kabouter. Wow so it was clearly time that we returned.  Between 2001 (when Jan and I both left Scheveningen) and 2010 we still visited Scheveningen a few times a year since our best friends still lived there.  But visits to the city center of The Hague date back from a much much longer time ago so during our weekend off, we also wanted to stroll back in the city where we worked.

So for those who don't know: Scheveningen is a city part of The Hague. Only a few kms from the city center of this administrative capital of the Netherlands is the beach part of The Hague.  You travel easily and quickly back and forth by several tram or bus lines that combine the 2 city parts with each other. 

So what did we visit again?

1. Het binnenhof , het Buitenhof and the hofvijver

The Hague is the political capital of the Netherlands. The heart of politics take place at the historic "Binnenhof" which are the former residences of the counts of Holland. Currently it are the offices of the Minister President of the Netherlands, its government and some ministeries and the courtyards and buildings are connected on one side with the modern parliament buildings behind it.  The public is free to stroll through the gates and over the courtyards and in front of the Hall of Knights in the middle of the complex.

In that Hall of Knights (ridderzaal) each Sept 17th the Dutch king comes on Prinsjesdag in a golden carriage to give his speech to the united parliament houses. We had just missed on Sunday the dry run with the horse-ridden police but had seen the hundreds of horses return to their stables from a distance. 

The Mauritshuis next to the Binnenhof is currently a fine art museum

2. Het Plein

The "Square" (yes that is literally the official name of the square) is next to the Binnenhof and Parliament and a pleasant square zoomed by pubs and terraces.

As a preperation of the coming Prinsjesdag in the Netherlands there were some festivities on the square and I took a testride in a cardboard golden carriage... almost the real thing ;).

3. Paleis Noordeinde

The Hague is not only the political capital of the Netherlands but also its royal capital (even though the city center of Amsterdam has a royal palace on the Dam). Paleis Noordeinde is just a few hundred meters away from the Binnenhof and is the "work" palace for the king.  The square in front of the palace has a sculpture of Willem of Orange on a horse but also a very down to earth sculpture of the famous queen Wilhelmina.

4. The classy area's around the Lange Vijverberg, Lange Voorhout, Noordeinde, ...

While Amsterdam developed as a trading city full of trading houses and warehouses along the canals,  The Hague attracted politicians, ambassadors, royals, ... The city breathes a different atmosphere (less tourists, less tourist commercial crap, more reserved, more class).  The city parts north of the Binnenhof boast beautiful boulevards boarded with linden trees.

You can admire many classified buildings that are currently often embassies, banks, musea, courts, ministeries or hotels. We were lucky that the weekend we were there wasn't only Prinsjesweekend but also open monuments day so we enjoyed strolling in and having a glimpse of the Kloosterkerk and the Waalse Kerk. 

Because of Prinsjesweekend, there was a medieval market along the Hofvijver and a true knights tournament on the Lange Voorhout. The latter was for real: the wooden sticks often splintered and cracked up spectacularly due to the impact. 

5. Shopping streets

The Hague has always been a good shopping city with a big maze of shopping streets both with boutiques or the big chains south of the royal palace and the binnenhof.  They felt very relaxed and not at all overcrowded on a Saturday afternoon. 

6. Modern development ax in the south (as of Central station).

I'm jealous of modern Dutch architecture.  The Dutch dare to innovate and build modern buildings (and have no fear to tear down old ones).  Along the pedestrian road from the Central Station to the Spui has been a continuous renewal and activity in the 18 years I've been here.  Old dull ministry buildings form the 70-80ies are torn down and replaced by 2 recent skyscrapers. Also a student dorm has disappeared. The room freed up is taken by other commercial buildings and currently there is a massive zone under construction for a complex of performing arts.

I've also always been a huge fan of the modern white massive city hall of The Hague that was already modern 18 years ago and still stands well. In Belgium we miss such business area's that have guts.  I think the same each time I pass Utrecht and Amsterdam... I almost get the feeling there is less economic activity in Belgium than in the Netherlands when I pass through their business area's. 

My former 4 story office building where my first job started in The Hague is now a dwarf surrounded by parking and office towers in cool shapes and formes. It's the skyline that greets you when you arrive to The Hague by car via the A12...their welcome sign that always make me smile.  Mostly because I always spot the 2 towers that were nicknamed "the tits" of The Hague... unfortunately they are sinking away now among the higher towers arising around them. 


Popular Posts