A Conservative Contrast to Holland’s Capital
You've probably heard or read the words "The Hague" on TV and in papers. Known as the "judicial capital of the world," you'll find the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal where dictators have met their ultimate fates. The Hague (Den Haag) also houses several UN and EU institutions as well as international companies and embassies. This has created a diverse city filled with expats and has helped make the city well connected by rail to the rest of Europe.
Thanks to the high speed Thalys train, you can easily stop here on the way to Belgium or France. But don't just make a day of it. The Hague truly is a great destination in itself. Den Haag Hollands Spoor is the station furthest from the city center (about a 20 minute walk) and is used for international routes. Den Haag Centraal is the bigger station of the two and within walking distance of the city center. There are frequent trains connecting the two main stations.
Compared to Amsterdam, which is known for its liberalism, The Hague is conservative and somewhat sedate. You'll find lots of green space, great architecture, shopping and a unique location on the water. The old part of the city centers around governmental buildings such as the Binnenhof. This Parliament complex sits beautifully on Hofvijver Lake and has been the center of Dutch politics for centuries. One of the towers, simply known as het Torentje (the Little Tower) has been the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 1982.
Next door you'll find The Mauritshuis museum, located in a 17th-century palace. One of the best art houses in The Netherlands, the building holds the city's former Royal Picture Gallery, including a collection of paintings by the Dutch Old Masters Vermeer and Rembrandt. Go from paintings to graphics at Escher in Het Paleis. T his former royal townhouse was recently converted into a museum dedicated to the famous Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. See how the artist progressed from realistic pictures to his later works of optical illusion and geometrical pattern.
Children and adults alike adore the miniature city of Madurodam. Featuring all the highlights of The Netherlands but on a 1:25 scale, the city is composed of typical Dutch buildings and landmarks around the country.
What can't be duplicated is The Hague's prime location on the North Sea. Travelers from all over Holland come to Scheveningen beach to relax by the beach. The Pier, the largest in the Netherlands, has a 200-foot lookout tower, bungee jumping and a casino and restaurant. The seaside resort of Kijkduin is less frenetic if looking for something a little more peaceful.
When The Hague's international community isn't working or sunbathing, they hop on the train to charming towns. Leaving either Centraal Station or Hollands Spoor every 15 minutes, the picturesque, canal-lined town of Delft takes anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes. Be sure to pack a Eurail Benelux Pass!
The Hague, this city is a center for peace – not only in the court, but also in its way of life.
Contributed by: Renate, our Dutch employee who has worked in various departments of the company and traveled on many trains in Europe, especially through the BeNeLux countries.