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Mauritshuis, The Hague, Holland - Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring

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The Hague

The Hague - Plein (c) Andrew Sanger

The Hague, Holland - bikers (c) Andrew Sanger


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Bicycles rule in this cultivated little city. Bikes, bikes everywhere are pedalled along The Hague's cycle lanes and cobbled streets by men-about-town or businessmen in suits, chic young women or arthritic pensioners, and whole fleets of cool teens and twenties. They ride old-fashioned sit-up-and-beg roadsters and not one of them wears lycra or a helmet - not one.
  Fashion-conscious, refined, art-loving and enjoying the good life, Holland's seat of government is a delightful and attractive town which merges into the lively, popular beach resort of Scheveningen. Canals and trams give The Hague plenty of that unmistakeable Dutch charm. The city centre's old Flemish architecture is on a human scale, yet grand, while the central streets and spacious, handsome squares are fringed with smart cafes, bookshops, quirky one-off fashion boutiques and antique shops.


 Get the feel

The Hague - properly pronounced "Haahh" - is an administrative city, with many government offices. Together with the large number of diplomatic staff and foreign officials and their families who reside in The Hague, this gives it a sophisticated, cosmopolitan feel, with a good-quality shops and restaurants and a relaxed atmosphere. The atmosphere is welcoming and amiable, and English is very widely spoken.
  The Hague is popular among the Dutch for short breaks and holidays, as the municipality includes the beach resorts of small, quiet Kijkduin and big, lively Scheveningen, making a total of 11km of sandy beach.

 What, why, where

The Hague - Den Haag in Dutch - has played a prestigious role in the history of the Netherlands (or Holland), on the European stage and in a global context too.
  Although not the capital of Holland - that's Amsterdam - since the 13th century The Hague has been the country's royal seat and its seat of government. In addition, it is the base for hundreds of international organisations, and hosts over 100 embassies.
  Also in The Hague are the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and many United Nations offices, and it has become regarded as the judicial capital of the UN.

 Getting started

The city's tourist office, called VVV, occupies a corner in the public library at Spui 68, and is open seven days a week all year round
  In addition there are five information points around town, including one at the beach resort
Scheveningen. See the website for details:
VVV-tourist-office

 Compass points

The focal points are the spacious streets and squares around the waters of the Hofvijver, especially Plein, and the area of narrower streets between there and the Royal Palace, Noordeinde Palace (Paleis Noordeinde).
MThe characterful lanes of the hip Hofkwartier lie between Hogstraat and Prinsestraat.
Most visitors arrive at the main railway station, a few minutes walk away in Rijnstraat. The bus and tram stations are here too.

 Getting around

The city centre of The Hague is car-free (except for essential access, and taxis at night), and is geared to bikes and pedestrians.
 A fast, inexpensive, efficient and comprehensive network of buses and modern trams provides easy access to all parts of the city, including the beach.
 Bus and tram drivers (and fellow passengers too) usually have, at the minimum, some basic English and are patient and helpful.

 Entertainment and nightlife

Although nightlife venues are scattered all over the city, The Hague's beach resort of Scheveningen - the most popular in Holland - is the main entertainment district, with late-night bars, three casinos and clubs and dance venues across a range of tastes and budgets.
  The tourist office have the latest information on which clubs are currently popular.

 Eating and drinking in The Hague

Enjoy classic local fare, soups, fresh fish, french fries, and Dutch pancakes, or choose from The Hague's cosmopolitan spectrum of high-quality foreign restaurants.
 
The highest rated traditional gourmet restaurants serve a refined but substantial Franco-Dutch cuisine. There are also many high quality Italian restaurants.
 
A rijsttafel or 'Indonesian rice table' (a Dutch version of nasi padang) is a favourite meal out for locals.
  Good wines are available everywhere, but Holland is a beer-drinking country, with several interesting local varieties - despite which, most of the best beers come from across the border in Belgium.

Fouquet is an attractive gastronomic restaurant, with simply laid tables, bare floorboards, very professional service and high-quality cooking in the French-Dutch style.
www.restaurantfouquet.com

 Hotels in The Hague

Accommodation in The Hague
In addition to major hotel chains, there are dozens of attractive small hotels in all categories
in and around the city centre.

Hotel des Indes, centrally located, is a 19th-century grand luxurious hotel in the most opulent period style, with every modern convenience.
www.hoteldesindesthehague.com

Carlton Ambassador, a good-quality traditional 4-star, comfortable and well run, with amiable, efficient, helpful service is in a quiet, leafy area about 10 minutes walk from the city centre..
www.carlton.nl

Mozaic Hotel is a quirkily stylish place about 15 minutes walk from the centre. All rooms are mini-suites, with sitting room and bedroom areas separated, and a big TV screen in each. You can cook in your room - there's a microwave and a set of cutlery. Free WiFi throughout and a good breakfast included.
www.mozaic.nl

 In the Know

The Hague should be written with a capital 'T'.

The best beers in Holland are Flemish... but not Dutch - they're from neighbouring Belgium.

No, it's not the capital of Holland despite being the royal seat and the seat of the government of The Netherlands. For historic reasons, Amsterdam is the capital.

 Flights and trains to The Hague

Nearest airports to The Hague are Amsterdam Schiphol and Rotterdam-Hague. Flights from London and southern UK take about 1h15m.

Amsterdam airport has direct fast trains to The Hague, taking 30 minutes.

Rotterdam-Hague airport is connected by shuttle buses and trams to the centre of The Hague, also taking 30 minutes.

CityJet fly to both Amsterdam and Rotterdam several times daily from London City airport.
www.cityjet.com


Flybe also fly to Amsterdam from London City, as well as from several UK regional airports.
www.flybe.com

 Must-see

 Mauritshuis (Fine Arts Museum) 
In a grand old palace off the glorious Plein square, the Mauritshuis is one of the Flemish world's great accomplishments. Its astonishing collection of Flemish masters encompasses all the great names in abundance - Vermeer, Rembrandt, Rubens, Brueghel, Memling, Jan Steen - and many outstanding works by less well-known artists of the period. There are plenty of famous works of the 'Golden Age', including Vermeer's 'The Girl with the Pearl Ear Ring'. Most displays are in attractive small rooms.
www.mauritshuis.nl

 Escher in Het Paleis (Escher in the Palace) 
The collection of intricate, puzzling drawings and masterful woodcuts by Escher in a former royal palace is complemented by his wonderful and absurd chandeliers in the shapes of sharks, bluebottles, birds, even a pipe, a bottle and a bomb! The top floor is devoted to optical illusions not by Escher but 'inspired' by him, including a mind-boggling room where short people look bigger than tall people!
www.escherinhetpaleis.nl

 Binnenhof (Parliament) 
This complex of medieval brick buildings around a courtyard enclosed by Holland's government buildings, rises beside the Hofvijver lake at the heart of The Hague. There's a visitors' centre, which runs guided tours of the Hall of Knights or the Second Chamber of Parliament.
www.binnenhofbezoek.nl

 Gemeentemuseum (Municipal museum) 
In a building by Berlage, this is The Hague's modern art museum, with the world's largest and most important collection of works by Piet Mondrian, originator of the De Stijl design and culture movement which celebrates its centenary in 2017. The museum (pronounce its name "Hemaynter Museum") places the development of Dutch modern art in an international context, with a stunning collection of works by leading modern artists, among them Picasso, Monet, Degas, Signac, Kandinsky and Van Gogh. Dutch contemporaries are especially well represented. There's a succession of interesting temporary exhibitions by contemporary artists. The museum also has an important collection of Delftware. Signposting inside the museum is very poor: study the floor plan carefully to find your way around! There's a useful self-service restaurant in the striking covered courtyard.
www.gemeentemuseum.nl

 Delft 
A separate town, now practically part of Den Haag (and reached on the town's buses and trams), calm Delft preserves a charming central area of waterside houses, canal walks and two medieval churches Nieuwe and Oude (New and Old). Delft gave its name to high-quality blue-and-white glazed pottery made here and was the home of Flemish master Johannes Vermeer, providing the setting for some of his work, and for the film 'The Girl With The Pearl Earring'. However, it's a great place to simply wander and relax. Just try to ignore the plethora of tourist tat and faux Golden Age attractions. There are many pretty corners, as well as lively squares crowded with tables. The Museum Het Prinsenhof is devoted to Flanders' Golden Age and the 16th-century Uprising led by William of Orange.
www.delft.nl

 Vredespaleis (The Peace Palace) 
This striking brick building in elaborate Flemish Renaissance style, with beautiful gardens, was built in 1913 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to house the Permanent Court of Arbitration and a legal library. It has since become the home of prestigious international judicial organisations, including the International Court of Justice and the Hague Academy of International Law.
www.vredespaleis.nl

 Madurodam 
A favourite with Dutch families, this brilliant interactive "Holland in Miniature" sets out all the major sights and landmarks of the Netherlands - reduced to a 25th of their real size.
www.madurodam.nl

 Shopping in The Hague

What to buy Most shops are small and independently owned. Browse for chic, original fashions and accessories; art and antiques; gourmet Dutch foods and quality chocolates.

De Passage A century-old extensive network of grand glass-roofed indoor shopping arcades, with plenty of shops and places to eat and drink. Enter from Hofweg or Spui.
www.depassage.nl

Top shopping streets Spuistraat is a popular, crowded narrow shopping street; Noordeinde is an attractive street with quirky little shops, restaurants, food stores, bookshops, and art and antiques dealers; Frederik Hendriklaan, or "De Fred", is a pleasant street north of the city centre, with over 100 stores, many of them award-winning food specialists; Frederikstraat has antique shops, one-off fashion boutiques, smart cafes and imaginative brasseries.

Laange Voorhout This huge, delightful, shaded city centre square is the setting for a books and antiques market every Thursday, and Sundays too in summer.

 Events and festivals

The Hague enjoys numerous events, shows, exhibitions and festivals every summer and all year. See The Hague Festivals for details of all upcoming events.

UIT Festival
1-3 Sep 2017
At the start of what's called The Hague's 'Cultural Season', this free festival allows local cultural institutions to present themselves to the general public. Focused on Lange Voorhout and the town's theatres and stages.
www.uitfestivaldenhaag.nl


The Life I Live
26 Apr 2018
A free music festival fills the city centre on Koningsnacht, the night before Koningsdag, the King's official birthday. On the birthday itself, festivities continue.
www.thelifeilive.nl/


Parkpop
24
Jun 2018
Europe's largest annual free pop concert takes place in the afternoon and evening of the last Sunday in June, at Zuiderpark in the south-western part of The Hague.
www.parkpop.nl

 The Hague basics

Where is The Hague?
In
The Netherlands (Holland), on the North Sea coast, 30 minutes south of Amsterdam.
International phone dialling code:
00 31 (+ drop initial 0 from local number)
Time zone:

GMT/BST + 1 hour.
Money:

Euro ()
.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hague
Revised and updated August 2017. All rights reserved worldwide.
Text and pictures Focus Guides and Andrew Sanger.
Permission to use: This guide may be freely PRINTED ONLY for personal non-commercial use. Unless a LICENCE has been obtained it may not, in whole or in part, be COPIED nor used for any COMMERCIAL purpose.
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