I was in the Hague this week working for the World Justice Forum IV, a wonderful conference organized by the World Justice Project., so I thought it would be the perfect time to write a small post about this city.
The Hague (Den Haag in Dutch) is only the third largest city by population in the Netherlands, after Amsterdam (the capital) and Rotterdam, but it is the seat of the Dutch government and parliament. The Hague is known for being a truly international city, with more than 50% of the city’s residents coming from another country. It is also the home to many international institutions and organizations, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
In my time off from working at the conference (which wasn’t much) I got a chance to explore the city. Here are some of my Hague highlights:
The Binnenhof– This complex of buildings has housed the Dutch parliament since 1446, and is one of the most recognizable sights in The Hague. Visitors are free to walk inside to the inner courtyard. If you’re lucky, you might see a minister or two being chauffeured through the gates in their fancy cars.
The Peace Palace– The Peace Palace is often called the seat of international law, because it houses the International Court of Justice (the judicial body of the United Nations), as well as the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Andrew Carnegie provided over $1.5 million for its construction in the early 20th century. The Peace Palace is coming up on a milestone: August 28, 2013 will be the Centenary of its establishment.
M.C. Escher Museum in Het Paleis– The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam get all the press, but The Hague has some lovely museums of its own. The Escher Museum was a favorite of mine. Located in the former Royal Palace at Lange Voorhout, the museum features three floors of Escher’s most famous works. The top floor is dedicated to interactive exhibits, where you can try out some of Escher’s most famous optical illusions.
Gemeente Museum– I am not a fan of modern art, but if you are, then the Gemeente Museum is a must. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of works by Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan.
Het Plein– The center of The Hague’s social scene. Since The Hague does not have a university, most of the nightlife in the city revolves around the sidewalk cafes filled with diplomats and professionals enjoying after-work drinks that line this square.
Statenkwartier– The Hague also has some of the nicest neighborhoods (in my opinion) in the Netherlands. The Statenkwartier is an old suburb of the city packed with architectural gems: beautiful mansions, stately row houses, and gorgeous facades that have housed some of the city’s wealthiest residents throughout history.
Scheveningen– I have discussed this beach resort before, when I wrote about the Dutch herring festival held there each year, but it is worth mentioning again. Scheveningen is a point of pride in The Hague. Easily accessible by tram from the city center, the beach is packed on any sunny day, no matter the time of year. It attracts over 10 million visitors per year, making it the most popular beach town in the Netherlands.
This only represents a short list of some of the things I found most noteworthy about the Hague during my stay there. I can’t wait to return and explore this international city further!