Central Area, The Hague
The Binnenhof houses both chambers of Parliament and several different government departments. The multiple buildings date from different time periods.
On the north side of the Binnenhof square stands the Gevangenpoort (Prison Gate), with a collection of medieval instruments of torture. Built in 1296 as the gatehouse of the Binnenhof, it was converted into a prison in the 15th century. Here the brothers Cornelis and Johan de Witt, accused of an attempt on the life of Prince William III, were murdered in 1672. In the square to the north is a monument to Jan de Witt. The old prison and torture chambers have been open to the public as a museum since the beginning of the 20th century, with a collection of pictures, prints and relics illustrating the administration of justice in the 17th century and the imprisonment of Cornelis de Witt.
Address: Buitenhof 33, The Hague, Zuid-Holland 2513 AH, Netherlands
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm; Sat: 12pm-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €7.50, Group discounts €7.00, Child 12 & under €5.50
Guides: Guided tour available as optional extra.
Transit: Tram: 3, 7, 8, 12; Bus: 4, 5, 22.
William V's Picture Gallery
Beside the Gevangenpoort, at Buitenhof 35, is Prince William V's Picture Gallery (Schilderijenzaal), with an interesting collection of pictures which, in the manner of the time, are hung close together from floor to ceiling. Built by Prince William V in 1773 as a reception room, it was open to the public on certain days, and is thus the oldest museum in the Netherlands. It displays Dutch paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries which belonged to the Stadholder.Renovations to the building were undertaken in 2009.
Gravenstraat Shopping Arcade
In The Hague at the west end of the Buitenhof lies Gravenstraat. On the left is a shopping arcade built in 1885 on the model of the famous Galleria Emanuele II in Milan. On the right is an elegant shop, La Bonneterie, with a beautiful glass dome.
Old Town Hall
Gravenstraat joins the Dagelijkse Groenmarkt, in which stands The Hague's Old Town Hall, one of the earliest Renaissance buildings of any size in the northern provinces, built in 1564 on the model of Antwerp Town Hall. The newer part, in Louis XIV style, was built in 1734. The building was further extended in 1883; but thereafter it was decided that a new Town Hall was needed.
The Grote Kerk or St Jacobskerk boasts of a 51 bell carillon. Tourists can climb the bell tower for great views out over the city.
Butter Weigh House
From the Grote Kerk Schoolstraat runs south to the Grote Markt. At the corner of Prinsegracht can be seen the Boterwaag (Butter Weigh House, 1681), long a center of Holland's prosperous butter and cheese trade. After many years of neglect the old building was restored in 1983 and now houses a charming little restaurant and a variety of cultural events (concerts, exhibitions, etc.).
South of the Boterwaag stands the Spinoza House, now a museum, in which the philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-77) lived from 1671 until his death and where he completed his "Ethics"; to see the house, make an appointment by telephone. At the south end of Paviljoensgracht is a statue of Spinoza (1880).
in The Hague, Opposite Spinoza House is an attractive group of almshouses, the Heilige Geesthofje (1616).
To the north of the Grote Kerk, at Molenstraat 38, is a "hidden church" - one of the Roman Catholic churches in The Hague, with inconspicuous exteriors but richly furnished interiors, built during the period when Catholic worship was banned.
Noordeinde Palace Gardens
Prinsestraat leads north to Prinsessewal and the Paleistuin (Palace Garden), the gardens, now open to the public, of the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague.
At the far end of Prinsessewal is Hogewal in The Hague, in which are the Royal Stables (Koninklijke Stallen). Most of the building is now occupied by a garage and workshops.
Anna Paulownastraat runs north into the Laan van Meerdervoort, at No. 7F of which is the Mesdag Museum (Rijksmuseum H. W. Mesdag ), with a fine collection of paintings presented to the nation in 1903 by the painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915), consisting mainly of works of the French Barbizon School (Corot, Théodore Rousseau, Millet, Daubigny, Delacroix) - the most important collection of this school in the Netherlands - and the Hague School (Jacobus Maris, G. H. Breitner, Jozef Israëls). There is also a collection of porcelain from the Oud Rozenburg factory in The Hague.
Just north of the Mesdag Museum, in Carnegieplein, is the Peace Palace (Vredespaleis), an imposing brick building (1907-13), for the construction of which Andrew Carnegie, then the richest man in the world, donated $1-.5million. The style of the building is a mingling of Gothic and neo-classical. Flanking the long arcaded facade with its steeply pitched roof is an 80m/260ft high tower. Housed in the building are the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Academy of International Law and a library of international law which until 1955 was the best in the world. Countries from all over the world contributed to the rich decoration of the interior. The marble for the lobbies and the grand staircase came from Italy, the wood for the paneling from Brazil and the United States, the ornamental iron railings surrounding the grounds from Germany. The windows on the ground floor are of Delft lead glass and the walls are clad with Delft tiles. The accumulation of all these various elements, fine though they are in themselves, sometimes produces a rather eclectic effect, as in the monumental entrance, almost Byzantine in style, with its large gold chandeliers, marble floor in rosette patterns and white marble staircase.
Along the Laan van Meerdervoort to the east of the Peace Palace, on the right, is Zeestraat. At No. 82 of this street can be found the Postal Museum of The Hague, which provides a comprehensive survey of the development of postal services and telecommunications in the Netherlands from the earliest letters to modern satellite communications. Among the exhibits are an old post office of 1928 with its sorting and bundling machines, a hand-operated telephone exchange of 1912, early telephones and modern subscriber-dialing and fax equipment. There are also a complete collection of the stamps of the Netherlands and the former Dutch colonies and a large and representative collection of stamps from other countries.
Address: Zeestraat 80- 82, The Hague, Zuid-Holland 2518 AD, Netherlands
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm; Sat: 12pm-5pm; Closed: Mon
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €7.50, Senior over 65 €6.00, Child 12 & under €4.00, Child 3 & under FREE
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Transit: Tram: 7, 8; Bus: 4, 5 , 13, 22.
Near the Postal Musuem is Plein 1813, in the center of which stands a monument (by W. C. van Waaijen-Pietersen and Koelman, 1869) commemorating the recovery of Dutch independence in November 1813.
Mesdag Panorama is a huge painting created by H. W. Mesdag and his wife. It portrays Scheveningen in 1880. The circular form was an early version of a three-dimensional effect.
Royal Coin Cabinet
At Zeestraat 71 in The Hague is the Royal Coin Cabinet, with a large collection of coins, medals and cameos.
The line of Zeestraat is continued beyond the Hoge Wal by Noordeinde, which runs past the royal palace of Noordeinde (the Oude Hof). Originally built in 1533, the palace was rebuilt by Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen in 1640 and further altered by King William I in 1814. In 1948 much of the building was devastated by fire, and thereafter it was occupied for some years by an international institute. After thorough restoration in the 1970s it is now the Queen's official residence, used for state receptions.
Council of State Building
Opposite the palace is the rear front of the Council of State (Raad van State) building.
Beyond Noordeinde Palace, Heulstraat (on left) leads into Kneuterdijk. In this street is the former royal palace of Kneuterdijk, which dates in its present form from the 18th century. Here Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Grand Pensionary, spent the last years of his life.
In The Hague, Kneuterdijk runs south into the Lange Vijverberg, at No. 14 of which is the Costume Museum, displayed in rooms furnished in period style.
At the east end of the lake is the Historical Museum of The Hague (Haags Historisch Museum), in the premises (completely restored) of the old marksmen's guild of St Sebastian, St Sebastiaansdoelen. The museum illustrates the history of the city from early times to the present day with a large collection of material, including old views, archaeological finds, group portraits of marksmen's guilds, coins and video shows. There are periodic special exhibitions on current topics concerning the city. The documentation and information center is run by the municipal archives department.
Address: Vijverberg 7, The Hague, Zuid-Holland 2513 AB, Netherlands
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm; Sat: 12pm-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service
Transit: Tram: 1, 7, 8, 9, 12; Bus: 4, 5, 22.
The classical mansion known as Mauritshuis was built in the 1630s for Johan Maurits. It has severed a few purposes over the centuries but is today a prominent art gallery with a world class collection.
In the center of the Plein, the square to the east of the Binnenhof in The Hague's Royal City Center, is a bronze statue of William the Silent. Until a few years ago the Ministry of the Interior, the Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) and the Ministry of Justice were on the west side of the square, the Ministry of Defense on the south side and the Foreign Ministry on the east side, but most of these have now moved to new premises. The buildings on the west side are being converted for use by members of Parliament.
From the northeast corner of the Plein, Lange Voorhoutstraat leads north into Tournooiveld (on the right, at the near end of the Korte Voorhout, the Koninklijke Schouwburg or Theater Royal) and the Lange Voorhout, which, with the Kneuterdijk, the Vijverberg and Willemspark, is the most fashionable part of the city.
Dutch Royal Palace
On the east side of the Lange Voorhout in The Hague is a palace once occupied by Queen Emma the Queen Mother and now used by ex-Queen Juliana as an official residence for such functions as receiving foreign diplomats.
Dutch Supreme Court
West from the Royal Palace in The Hague, at No. 34, is the building now occupied by the Supreme Court (Hoge Raad). Built by Daniël Marot in 1734-36, it was occupied by King William I in 1813-14 while waiting for the completion of the Noordeinde Palace, and then until 1819 by his son. From 1819 it housed the Royal Library, which moved in 1982 to a modern building near the Central Station. The statues which stood on the steps of the old building can now be seen in its inner courtyard.
At No. 32A Lange Voorhout in The Hague is the narrowest house in The Hague, only 1.5m/5ft wide.
The 16th century Pagenhuis (Pages' House) at No. 6, originally the home of an armorer, was used from 1748 for the accommodation of Prince William IV's pages.
At the corner of Parkstraat in The Hague stands the Kloosterkerk. Built about 1400, it is the city's oldest church. It originally belonged to a Dominican house which was demolished in 1583. Thereafter the church was the home for many years of the armorer from No. 6.
Going north between the Royal Palace and the Hotel des Indes into Dennenweg and then turning right into Hooistraat and its continuation, Houtweg, we come to the Prinsessegracht. In Koningskade (Nos. 1-2), which runs parallel to Prinsessegracht on the east, is the modern Provinciehuis, the seat of the provincial government of Zuid-Holland.
In The Hague, to the north of the Provinciehuis, Nassau-Dillenburgstraat 8 houses the Puppet Museum (Museum voor het Poppenspeel), with a collection of some 1,000 dolls and puppets up to 200 years old. Since 1980 the museum has belonged to the Dutch Theatrical Institute in Amsterdam.
Address: Nassau-Dillenburgstraat 8, The Hague, Zuid-Holland 2596 AD, Netherlands
Opening hours: 12pm-2pm; Closed: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Oct to June, puppet shows Sat & Sun 2pm for children, Fri 8:30 p.m. for adults.
Transit: Tram: 1, 9; Bus: 13.
South of the Puppet Museum can be found the Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum, housing a collection bequeathed to the state by Baron W. H. J. van Westreenen van Tiellandt (d. 1848). This is essentially a museum of the book, with 340 illuminated manuscripts and numbers of early printed books (e.g. Blaeu's Atlas), but the collection also includes ancient vases and sculpture and rarities from China and Japan - illustrating the range of interest of an early 19th century collector. There is also a section (established 1960) devoted to modern printing.
Toward the southeast end of Prinsessegracht in the direction of the Central Station are the Portuguese Jewish Synagogue, the Ministry of Finance and the Academy of Art (Academie van Beeldende Kunsten).
National Literary Museum and Archive
Close by Central Station stands the National Literary Museum and Archive (Nederlands Letterkundig Museum), with a display of the works of 188 Dutch authors from 1750 to the present day, including Betje Wolff, Jan Wolkers, Herman Gorter, Willem Kloos, Menno ter Braak and Simon Vestdijk. In the museum archives articles, etc., about these authors can be consulted.
From the Academy of Art in The Hague, the Herengracht and Korte Poten run west to the Plein. Continuing west from the southwest corner of the square are the Lange Poten and Spuistraat, which with Grote Marktstraat to the south constitute the city's main commercial and shopping quarter.
In The Hague, from the end of Lange Poten the Spui leads south to the Nieuwe Kerk (17th C.), in which the De Witt brothers and Spinoza are buried.
Dutch National Dance Theater
Facing the Nieuwe Kerk, at the corner of Spui and Grote Marktstraat in The Hague, is an unpretentious long, low building faced with white plaster slabs and black corrugated iron, home to the Dutch National Dance Theater. The only eye-catching feature of this plain and functional building (by Rem Koolhaas, 1987) is the gold-colored restaurant in the shape of an inverted cone. Together with the adjoining Dr Anton Philipszaal it provides a home - a need much felt for many years - for the Residence Orchestra (Residentie Orkest) and the Dance Theater. Since both institutions are largely self-financing the building had to be as cheap as possible and strictly functional. The foyer, however, is a delight to the eye, with its curving ramps and galleries suspended in the air on three levels against the dark red and golden coloring of the hall. From the street intersection to the right Hofweg leads back to the Buitenhof.The theater focuses on modern dance.
Map of The Hague Attractions