The weekend of 20 – 22 May. This is the only weekend in May that is not a long weekend in either UK or in The Netherlands.
How to get there?
Fly to Amsterdam Airport; you take a train from under the airport direct to The Hague;
Harwich – Hoek van Holland ferry (overnight);
By car; via the Channel Tunnel;
By train; via the Channel Tunnel (change in Brussels).
The Hague is a city of international importance with many faces, home to many different cultures. Once little more than a country house near a pond, The Hague has developed into a city of international character and importance, a never ending story: a little bit of history is added every day.
The Counts’ Hedge
Though officially called Den Haag, the locals often refer to it as ‘s-Gravenhage, literally: ‘The Counts’ Hedge’. The Counts of Holland enjoyed hunting and took special interest in the area’s vast forests that reached from Gravenzande to Leiden in the middle Ages, the remains of which are now known as the Haagse Bos. Originally basing themselves near the pond now known as the Hofvijver in the centre of The Hague, in the 13th century Count Willem II built the Binnenhof, or current houses of parliament, on the same spot. Lacking city rights, The Hague was unable to build the traditional wall and moat system of the day, so a town hall was built which can still be seen today in the Groenmarkt.
The birth of a reputation
By 1851 local legislation no longer distinguished cities from villages and they all became municipalities, with The Hague as the Royal Residence and Amsterdam as the capital. As a government town and seat of the monarchy, The Hague attracted many embassies and began its reputation as an international city.
The 20th century
The 20th century saw The Hague’s coming of age as an international city of peace and justice. In 1899 hundreds of delegates from 26 countries gathered for three months at Huis ten Bosch for the First Peace Conference. An effort to set standards for conflict resolution between nations, it gave birth to the Permanent Court of Arbitration and was followed by an even larger Second Peace Conference in The Hague in 1907.
The Third Hague Peace Conference, planned for 1915, was usurped by the First World War, but four years of trench warfare did their work and the Conference’s ideals were institutionalised in a Permanent Meeting of the League of Nations in Switzerland. In The Hague the ideals took actual form: the world-famous Peace Palace, financed by Andrew Carnegie, was officially opened in 1913 on the eve of the First World War. Home to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, it welcomed the Permanent Court of International Justice (under the League of Nations) in 1922 and is now the seat of its successor, the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
The international reputation of The Hague continues to develop. The city centre still features the ancient buildings where its history was forged, with world-class, modern architecture sprouting like exotic flowers around, and the international organisations in the International Zone continue to expand in both reach and number. The UN Security Council established the Yugoslavia Tribunal in 1993 to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the former Yugoslavia. The International Criminal Court was established in The Hague in 2002, and the OPCW and many other organisations make their home here. With over 100 ethnic groups living side by side, The Hague has embraced its heritage and strives to be deserving of the title ‘International City of Peace and Justice’.
The Hague is the third largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 500,000 (2011). The Hague has traditionally been a city of storks, thus the stork on the coat of arms and as the logo of the municipality. In the Middle Ages they were domesticated to remove fish remains at the fish market and nested on the buildings around the Binnenhof and in the area of the Groenmarkt and were seen as bringers of luck and prosperity.
In 1456 the Thirty Knights of the Mighty Order of the Gulden Vlies (Golden Fleece) came to The Hague for their first meeting in full armour, some on horseback and many on foot. The Knights had their meeting in the Hall of Knights, or Ridderzaal, and at the Grote Kerk (Big Church) where you can still see remnants of their weaponry.
The greenery in The Hague has always been protected; in the early Middle Ages by the Counts of Holland and, from the 14th century onwards, by forest wardens and citizens alike. They were supported by the 1576 Act of Redemption, a law banning the felling or selling of trees.
UN and EU
As home to the International Court of Justice, The Hague is the only city outside of New York with a UN main body and is a home base to nearly every international organisation in the field of peaceful administration.
In 1998 former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, described The Hague as ‘the legal capital of the world’.
With important international organisations like Europol and Eurojust, The Hague is also a European city. In 1948 the former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill spoke in The Hague about European unity, ‘It is indeed fitting that this first Congress of Europe should meet in Holland which, with her neighbours in the Benelux group, is already leading the way by her example…’ At the time the New York Times observed, ‘We are witnessing today in The Hague a phenomenon of the greatest importance: we are witnessing the renewal of the European spirit.’
Hotels in The Hague
This is a good website:
Hotel Crown Plaza Promenade (has parking)
Hotel Mercure (parking garage)
Novotel World Forum
Hotel Bel Air (has parking)
Novotel The Hague City Centre
Holiday Inn The Hague Parliament
Possible things to do:
Peace Palace, Carnegieplein 2, 2517 KJ, The Hague
The Peace Palace in The Hague is home to the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Peace Palace Library, as well as The Hague Academy of International Law. The Palace, the premises on which it stands and the Library are the property of the Carnegie Foundation.
The Peace Palace is not open for public. There is a possibility to visit the Peace Palace and its courtrooms by joining a guided tour.
Museum with the works of Escher
Maurits Cornelis Escher was a graphic artist, who lived between 1898 and 1972. He was an absolute master in drawing impossible situations and optical illusions. ‘Escher in the Palace’ (Escher in het Paleis) is a permanent exhibition in a former palace of the Royal Family in the historical heart of The Hague.
Works of Graphic Artist Escher
Imagine drawings with water floating upwards, never-ending staircases, reptiles crawling vicious circles between objects on a desk, escaping and reentering the paper that they are drawn on, hands coming out of a piece of paper and drawing themselves. To most people, these things are hard to imagine, let alone to draw. But it’s all there in the Escher museum, ‘Escher in the Palace’.
This museum is home to the world’s oldest and largest private collection of cars.
Mauritshuis: The girl with the pearl earring is here;
Walk through the centre;
Walk in Scheveningen (by the sea).
SI Winchester member