We were not sure what to expect when visiting Den Haag or The Hague. Driving in was quite easy and we were now learning that following the signs “P Route” brought you to the car parks. As usual there was road works around but we found our way to the “centrum”. After finding the information centre and getting a map of the centre we started our exploration. You could tell by walking through the shopping street that this was a well healed town with some very up market shops. The skyline is a mixture of old and new with some towering skyscrapers and church spires.
The main focus of the centre is The Binnenhof, which occupies the site of the medieval castle where Den Haag. Since the 16th century Den Haag has been the Netherlands political capitol. The Binnenhof in 1830 became the seat of government and the home of the legislature until 1992 when the parliament moved into an extension next door. In the centre of the Binnenhof and dominating the square was the Ridderzaal or Knight’s Hall. This building was built as a banqueting hall for Floris V in the 13th century. The rest of the Binnenhof are a series of art museum. The courtyard of the Binnenhof is a quiet area to sit in the sunshine and as we sat we watch some ballerinas’ having photographs taken on the steps of the Ridderzaal.
From the Binnenhof we wandered to the Paleis Noordeinde the Royal Palace which was built in the 16th and 17th century. Although splendid it was small compared to “Buck House”
The most impressive building in Den Haag is the Vredespaleis or Peace Palace which is home to the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Although we could not visit the palace there was a very informative visitor centre which told the history of the Peace Palace and its work. The first Hague Peace Conference was called by Tsar Nicholas II in 1899. Subsequently a building was suggested to house the court and a donation of $1.5 million was given by Andrew Carnegie and donations from across the world of tapestries, urns, marble etc. The ironic is that the Peace Palace was completed one year before WW1 broke out. The two official languages of the court are French and English.
It had been and interesting and informative visit to Den Haag.