I have lived in The Hague for over 20 years and love this city dearly. The Hague is known as the city of peace and justice and is unique for various reasons. The Hague is absolutely worth visiting if you are coming to The Netherlands.
The Hague is the only city globally that is not the country’s capital but is still home to the Government and the Royal House. In addition, prestigious international institutions, such as the International Court of Justice, are located in The Hague.
It is a fascinating story why The Hague has become home to these prestigious institutions instead of Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ capital.
How Much Time Do You Need To Visit The Hague?
I am often asked how much time one would need to visit The Hague and see most of its tourist attractions.
You will need 1-2 days to visit The Hague and see its tourist attractions. A 1-day visit will suffice if you only visit The Hague’s center. You can also extend your stay in The Hague to 3-4 days if you spend a few days on the beach of Scheveningen.
Read on to learn more about The Hague and how many days you may want to visit it. You can combine visiting The Hague with a visit to Delft, Rotterdam, or Leiden. These cities all have a different atmosphere and vibe, and you need to see more Dutch cities to appreciate the diversity of the Netherlands.
Why Is The Dutch Government Located In The Hague?
In the Middle Ages, The Hague never received formal city rights and was never allowed to build city walls to defend itself. Consequently, The Hague developed an open and tolerant attitude and culture. The Hague could not afford to be hostile to anybody because it could not protect itself and adopted neutrality as a way to survive.
Since 1350, the Counts of Holland court resided in The Hague in a castle built in the 13th century. Thus, The Hague was the main political stage in The Netherlands since the 13th century.
In the 16th century, The Netherlands was called The Republic of the Seven Provinces. The Republic of the Seven Provinces was governed by the Staten-Generaal, a Parliament in which all Provinces participated.
The Dutch government is residing in The Hague because it became the location of the Staten-Generaal in the 16th century to counterbalance the power of Amsterdam. Therefore, the Hague was ideal as a neutral territory for meetings of the Staten-Generaal, and the Dutch Parliament never left The Hague.
In the Republic of the Seven Provinces, the Princes of Orange served as supreme commanders of the Dutch army. They also selected The Hague as their domicile and set up their courts in the Count of Holland’s previously mentioned castle.
The Princes of Orange were the ancestors of the Royal House of The Netherlands, the house of Orange, and they lived in The Hague. Our present King, Willem-Alexander of Orange, also lives in The Hague in a palace called Huis ten Bosch.
A Map Of 11 Best Tourist Attractions In The Hague
I created a map of the 11 best tourist attractions in The Hague to help you find attractions easily. If you click on the numbers in the chart below, you will access more information, including the links to websites of sites and attractions.
Read on to learn more about what makes The Hague such an attractive city.
Why Is The Hague Known As The City Of Peace And Justice?
The Peace Palace building in The Hague resulted from two Peace Conferences held in The Hague in 1899 and 1907. During these Peace Conferences, a permanent Court of Arbitration was installed to settle disputes between nation-states peacefully rather than by war.
The Hague is known as the city of peace and justice because it is home to the Peace Palace, which houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the United Nations International Court of Justice, and The Hague Academy of International Law.
The Peace Palace in The Hague was built as a permanent residence for this permanent Court of Arbitration and designed to be an impressive building for a prestigious institution. The building served as a residence to the Court of Arbitration but, at the same time, strived to embody the dream of world peace.
It is sometimes (but not often) possible to visit the Peace Palace. Occasionally, guided tours are organized, and you can enjoy the beautiful interior of the Peace Palace. Visits to court cases are possible if you show up early on those days.
A fantastic virtual 360o tour of the marvelous interior of the Peace Palace is available on their website.
Is Scheveningen Beach Worth Visiting?
What makes The Hague unique is its location next to the sea. The Hague’s beach resort is an old fisherman’s village called Scheveningen, now a neighborhood of The Hague. I described Scheveningen in another post as the best beach resort in the Netherlands.
Scheveningen is a beach resort worth visiting, especially on nice, warm, sunny days. However, use public transportation to get there because you will not be able to park your car in Scheveningen anywhere close to the beach.
If you want to know more about Scheveningen, check out the other post because Scheveningen is a beautiful beach resort with plenty of beach clubs, restaurants, and other tourist attractions.
Waalsdorpervlakte & Oranjehotel
The Waalsdopervlakte is a dune area in the northern part of The Hague, adjacent to Scheveningen. The Waalsdorpervlakte is important because of the annual national commemoration on May 4th, when we remember the resistance fighters who lost their lives during the Second World War. The Nazis executed many of these resistance fighters at the Waalsdorpervlakte after first forcing them to dig their graves.
The Germans executed about 250-280 members of the resistance at the Waalsdorpervlakte. It is a sad and solemn place of remembrance. The remembrance bell still tolls for them on May 4th at 8:00 PM when we all observe 1 minute’s silence of sadness and gratitude.
The “Oranjehotel” is the nickname given to the prison of Scheveningen used by the Germans to imprison resistance fighters. From this prison, “Oranjehotel” resistance fighters were brought to the Waalsdorpervlakte to be executed. Thus, the prison is also a national monument of remembrance.
A Map Of Best Tourist Attractions In The Hague’s Center
I also created a map of the center of The Hague since there are so many exciting buildings.
I described The Mauritshuis in another post as a unique museum in The Netherlands because of its unsurpassed collection, location, and magnificent building. Therefore, I encourage you to check out the previous post since the Mauritshuis is undoubtedly the most beautiful museum in the Netherlands.
Left of the Mauritshuis (1) is the Cabinet of the King (2), our King’s office to support him in his constitutional role. If you leave the Mauritshuis and turn immediately right, you can see the prime minister of The Netherlands’ office (3), the little tower at the waterfront on your right hand.
If you walk through the gate, you will enter a square called Binnenhof (4), the heart of our parliamentary democracy. After you have walked through the gate, the prime minister of the Netherlands’ office is at your right. The Senate is at the back end of the square to your right (5).
The most monumental building at the Binnenhof is the Ridderzaal (6, Knights Hall), which is used once a year to open the parliamentary year on the third Tuesday of September by our King Willem-Alexander.
The Ridderzaal is the best reminder that the entire complex of the Binnenhof originated from a castle built in the 13th century by count Willem II and his son Floris V. The Ridderzaal was built in 1292. However, it still stands proudly as a symbol of our democracy.
If you go left on the Binnenhof and walk through the gate, you will immediately stand in front of the Tweede Kamer (7), the House of Representatives in The Netherlands.
Where Is The Best Shopping In The Hague?
The building of the Bijenkorf is a quintessential example of the Amsterdam School of Dutch architecture. The famous architect Piet Kramer designed the building, and it opened in 1928. Above, you can see a photo of the outside of the Bijenkorf in The Hague. It’s an imposing building from the outside, and inside the Bijenkorf, you’ll find many expensive brands.
If you leave the Bijenkorf through the exit at the Grote Markstraat and turn right, you will immediately see the Passage entrance on your left hand.
The Passage is an excellent indoor shopping street with upscale stores and restaurants. The Passage was built in 1885 and modeled after similar shopping streets in Paris. The Passage roof is glass, which makes this a very light and pleasant shopping center. Recently, an extension of the Passage has been built, which is also very tasteful.
If you exit the Passage through the northern exit and turn left, you will find the Hoogstraat and Noordeinde at your right hand. Turn right there for the next part of your shopping trip.
Noordeinde is a very chic shopping street and is the only shopping street where you can shop around a Royal Palace, the Paleis Noordeinde. You can find many exclusive stores and galleries at Noordeinde. This area offers the most unique and chic shopping that you can find in The Hague and perhaps in The Netherlands.
I hope that you will still have some money left when you have come to the end of Noordeinde at the end of this shopping trip……..!
The Mall Of The Netherlands in Leidschendam
Leidschendam is a village adjacent to The Hague and very easy to reach by bike or public transportation. I recommend checking out The Mall of The Netherlands in Leidschendam, the largest and most luxurious shopping mall.
Other Interesting Dutch Cities To Visit.
Besides The Hague, there are many other quintessential Dutch cities that you could visit to experience a bustling, genuine, authentic Dutch town.
You can find reviews of other Dutch cities below: