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The Hague is the city where the Dutch government is located; the Netherlands is the only country in the world where the government is not in the capital. The city is therefore also referred to as "the Residence", a bit of a formal, stately word that applies perfectly to The Hague: a city that is stately, elegant and a bit formal all at the same time.
That stateliness radiates from the Binnenhof, the heart of the political power. This is where the Eerste Kamer (Senate) and Tweede Kamer (House) gather. The oldest part of the Binnenhof dates back to the thirteenth century; the castle (because that is what it is) was extended during later centuries. The Torentje (little tower) is the Prime Minister's office, the Ridderzaal (Knights hall) is where the head of state reads the King's Speech on the third Tuesday in September. Prior to this there is the ride with the Golden Carriage from Paleis Noordeinde (Noordeinde Palace) to the Parliament building, Binnenhof. Guided tours are available, including a look inside the Tweede Kamer.
The Gevangenpoort is a well preserved medieval prison. Criminals were not just incarcerated here, but also tortured. Inside the museum you can see these torture devices. The square behind the prison was the execution site.
Along with the Binnenhof the Grote or Sint-Jacobskerk (Great or St James Church) is one of the oldest buildings of The Hague. Originally a cruciform church, but that cross shape was lost in the fifteenth century due to extensions. Some prominent Dutchmen are buried here. The most striking is the tomb of Admiral Jaob van Wassenaer Obdam on the site where once stood the main altar. The stained-glass windows dating back to the sixteenth century are truly beautiful.
Because the Grote Kerk ended up being too small, the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) was built in the seventeenth century. This church originally stood on an artificial island. The building now serves as a concert hall.
Like many other Dutch cities, The Hague has ancient courtyards where women could spend their last years. One of the prettiest is the Hof van Wouw, an oasis in the busy center of The Hague. If you take a guided tour here you will learn about the history of this court and stories about some special former residents.
Miniature Netherlands, that is what Madurodam is. In this miniature city you can find all distinctive buildings of the Netherlands shown to scale. From the canals of Amsterdam to Schiphol, and from the Rietveld House in Utrecht to the Cheese Market of Alkmaar. Special new buildings are added to the miniature town, like the Rotterdam Erasmus Bridge.
The Vredespaleis (Peace Palace) is not only a beautiful piece of architecture in the Renaissance style, it is also the home of the International Court of Justice. Conflicts are resolved between countries here. Or at least, that was and is the intention of this court... Through a guided tour you can learn more about the work of the Court, take a look at the Great Hall and the Japanese Room and admire the inner courtyard.
The Hague has many interesting museums. The Gemeentemuseum (Municipal Museum) has a collection of masterpieces of old masters such as Van Gogh to modern works by Picasso and Mondrian. Even more world famous paintings are exhibited in the Mauritshuis. This city palace from the seventeenth century is worth a visit in itself. It has been decorated like the elite of that time lived. Inside the Haags Historisch Museum (Hague Historical Museum) you can learn more about the sometimes turbulent history of this city. Children enjoy sitting in the reconstructed old classroom and write with a pencil on a slate.
And then that leaves the museum dedicated to the master of illusion: M.C. Escher. Although the artist was born in Leeuwarden, Escher's drawings and sketches are housed in the Escher Museum in The Hague.
Scheveningen is The Hague's seaside resort. People do not only go here to enjoy the sun, sea and sand on beautiful sunny days. The Scheveningen Pier is an attraction in itself. Now it is a shopping mall, combined with event halls, including halls with gaming and slot machines. Beelden aan Zee (Sculptures at Sea) is a museum with an outside terrain accessible for everyone on the boulevard and a building for which you have to pay an entrance fee. Outside are sculptures from fairy tales in which the sea plays an important part, inside you can see busts of famous Dutch people.
For a day of family fun visit Familiepark Drievliet. It started out as a large playground just before the war, but has evolved to a full worthy theme park. One of the highlights is the roller coaster Formula X.
You have to pay nearly everywhere for street parking in The Hague and the fees are on the high side. Better is to leave your car in one of the 21 parking garages in the city. Electronic signs indicate which garage has spaces available. If you park in the big parking garage under the Malieveld you can use a free shuttle bus towards the city center.
The Hague shares an airport with Rotterdam: the Rotterdam The Hague Airport, which locals still refer to by its old name, Airport Zestienhoven. The airport is easily accessible by rental car: it is located right next to the A13 motorway between The Hague and Rotterdam.