The Noordeinde Palace is one of three palaces used by the royal family and currently is the preferred palace of King Willem-Alexander. Originally a farmhouse dating from the 15th C, it has been enlarged, renovated, and repaired many times over the centuries and is now an H shaped building with a facade facing the city and the second facing the palace gardens.
The palace was first purchased for the use of Louise de Coligny, the widow of William of Orange, and her son Prince Frederik Hendrik in the late 16th C and gifted to them in 1609. The royals moved in and out over the next few centuries, used extensively by King Willem III and Queen Emma in the 19th C but much less used by others. Following a total renovation in 1984 it has been continuously used as the " office " of the monarch.
The palace is closed to the public and it is a long way around to see both facades. The rear of the building faces the Paleistuin, the palace gardens. It is open to the public except when royal esidence or state business issues intervene. Prince Frederik Henrik landscaped the gardens for his mother in the early 17thC with flowerbeds, fountains and ponds, and statues. It became the property of the city of The Hague in the twentieth Century.
Like the palace, the garden offered less than we might have hoped for - not so many palaces, not obviously well tended, no ponds and fountains visible - perhaps we took the wrong path or didn't know where to look.
An unexpected highlight of the Escher Museum is the 15 chandeliers created by the ceramic and glass artist Hans Van Bentem from Rotterdam and placed in 2003. The inspiration came from the figures used by Escher in his artwork. Figures include sharks, spiders, birds, pipes, and a star shaped chandelier in the main ballroom reflected endlessly in two mirrors (click on and enlarge image 3 ). Others include a trophy, an umbrella, and a seahorse.
The museum devoted to the works of MC Escher, the renowned graphic artist, has been housed in the Lange Voorhout Palace since 2002 filled with his woodcuts, lithographs and mezzotints. Inspired by mathematics, his works are described by art experts in terms far beyond normal human comprehension. Basically they are all optical illusions. Popular terms for his work among the cognosenti include tesselation - filling of a space with geometric shapes, called tiles, with no gaps, often fading into infinity and impossible constructions - two dimensional subconsciously interpreted as three dimensional even though the three dimensional mental reconstruction is impossible to create in real life. Beyond there, all is lost to the average mentation. Many of his geometric grids, inspired by the Alhambra and Moorish are, are overlain with additional designs often animals. Hard to understand, easy to be fascinated - each artwork requires study. It is very easy to spend two hours examining each of the multitude of works displayed. PLEASE VISIT THE TRAVELOGUE DEVOTED TO MORE EXAMPLES OF ESCHER'S WORK.
His masterpiece is a 20+ foot creation which is a circle in which one creature morphs imperceptibly into another, Metamorphosis, seen in full in the Schiphol airport ( a portion of which is shown in image 2). A famous example of morphing creatures is Air and Water in which birds change into fish before one's eyes ( image 1 ).
Snakes ( figure 3 ) is Escher's last work before death, an example of tesselations.
His studies of infinity, with the near field fading perfectly in proportion with the far field to be among the most fascinating (images 4,5). But throughout the multiple rooms there are innumerable little quirky masterpieces - the Escher Museum is certainly a worthwhile exhibit.
Many of the rooms are decorated in the style of the former royal inhabitants expecially Queen Emma and the walls and draperies contain detailed descriptions of her life. Just not enough time to take advantage of this material.
At the head of the Lange Voorhout stands the eponymous palace, now home to the MC Escher Museum, built in the 1700's. Owned by a banker, the first royalty to occupy was Emperor Napoleon in 1811. Queen Emma bought the palace in 1896 and used it as a winter palace till her death in 1934. Three later queens - Wilhelmina, Beatrix, and Juliana - used the palace for formal receptions until 1984. The palace was opened to the public some years later and has been occupied by the museum opened on 15 November 2002 and featuring the works of the renowned graphic artist in a regal setting.
One of the most beautiful and peaceful promenades perhaps in all of Europe is the tree-lined promenade just one block from the Hofvijver, with an illustrious history dating back to a Dominican monastery in the early 1400's. The four rows of magnificent lime trees were planted in 1536 on the order of HRE Charles V. The stately townhouses were largely built in the 18th C.
It was renamed Cour Napoleon during the early 19th C under napoleonic rule. After the ouster, the street became known for its homosexual population and the sex trade.
Gentrification began in the early 20th C with the opening of museums and the iconic Hotel des Indes. Today this lovely street is home to banks, museums ( see Escher museum below ), the hotel, and a number of embassies including the American, Swiss, Spanish, and British. The wide walkway with benches and LED lamps (image 3) with golden crowns ( this is the route taken by the reigning monarch for the annual State of the Country speech each September ) is about as pretty as it gets. The beautiful townhouses add to the regal atmosphere.
The land selected by Count Floris for the site of his hunting lodge bordered what is considered the most famous pool in The Netherlands, separating at least in part the Binnenhof from the surrounding city. It originally was a wide spot in a pre-existing creek and became part of a moat around the palace. The rectangular shape was created on order of a 15C count. An original island is gone, replaced by the current island 300 years ago with an adjacent fountain illuminated at night. The moat has long since been filled in. Needless to say, the island is symbolic and has been occupied at times by protestors of various sorts, but access to the main building has been precluded since 2004 by construction of an underwater fence.
On the far side and at the adjoining square multiple statues feature important figures in Dutch history perhaps not well known outside The Netherlands. Imaged is Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547-1619), a prominent politician and strong supporter of religious freedom and tolerance who was beheaded at age 71 for his public opposition to the dominant anti-Catholic ruling forces. His last words - keep it short, keep it short. His understandably dour contenance is easily seen across the pond from the offices of the Prime Minister.
The Knight's Hall (Riddenzaal) is the centerpiece of the courtyard, dating to the 1250's in the Gothic style. It has been renovated and restored many times over the centuries but always remaining true to the original style. Measuring 40x20 yards it was one of the largest buildings of its time with a stained rose window featuring the coat of arms of noble Dutch families. The original use was as a dining hall, used at times by the Order of the Golden Fleece. At various times it has served as a hospital, court, prison prior to executions, and even the offices of the state lottery. The annual speech by the reigning monarch is September is given from a throne within the main room.
At the entrance to the Binnenhof is one of the very few equestrian statues in the Netherlands, William II. And fronting the Ridderzaal is a beautiful gilt Gothic fountain about which little information is available
The Inner Court is a complex of buildings at the city center comprised of the Knight's Hall and surrounded by classic buildings housing the two houses of the Dutch Parliament, the offices of the Prime Minister, and the Dutch Cabinet. In 1229, Count Floris IV purchased land next to a small pond for a hunting lodge, later expended to a classic castle by his son and grandson William II and Floris V. It fell into disrepair during the French occupation, but was restored after the end of Napoleonic rule and again became the seat of government. In the past the most exciting events here were executions but today the most important function occurs on the third Thursday of September when the Dutch head of state presents the (Speech from the Throne) outlining government planning for the coming year.
Entrance is free, but tours of the buiildings are best by reservation in advance and at often inconvenient hours. No access to the buildings is permitted when the government is in session.
It is very unusual for me to be impressed by, or even notice, modern architecture. But Den Haag really did have some impressive structures.
I liked the way the tower blocks in the main photo (on the way to Den Haag Centraal station) echo the stepped gables of traditional Dutch buildings.
I was very impressed by the 'birdcage' on top of an apartment building near the Stadhuis.
I wondered how it felt to be in (I think) an office building on Turfmarkt which is built on top of two tram tunnels. Does the building vibrate as the (fairly frequent) trams pass underneath?
But, interesting though these structure are, .it is the older buildings which I find much more appealing.
Although central Den Haag does not have as many truly old buildings as e.g. Delft or Amsterdam, it still has plenty which have interesting architectural twiddles and fiddles.
I looked up a lot as I walked Hoogstraat, for example..and not just because the upmarket shops on that street are *way* outside my budget!
You'll find crabs and chubby cherubs, Art Deco tiling and 'striped' brickwork..lots to see and enjoy.
This is most beautiful building, and one which is a 'must' as you wander Den Haag.
The Oude Stadhuis (old town hall) dates from 1565, built on the site of the much earlier 'castle' of the lords of Brederode. It was enlarged in 1733 and has layers of rose-coloured stone ('bacon layers'), mullioned windows, stepped gables and shutters a-plenty making it a most eye-catching and beautiful structure.
It is the only building in Den Haag in Flemish-Dutch Renaissance style and there's an octagonal bell tower with openwork spire (dating from the mid-1600s).
Unlike many town halls, it does not stand on a square of its own. Its site was in the middle of an already-existing and long-established settlement, so the 'Grote Kerk' and other buildings have always surrounded it.
The building now provides a wedding venue as well as exhibition space.
The Hofvijeyer is, apparently, the 'court pond'. It's certainly not what I'd call a pond...more like a small lake, complete with hundreds of seagulls (different types) and lots of ducks.
It''s certainly be the oldest thing I saw in Den Haag. The 'pond' started off as a lake in the dunes, fed by two small 'creeks'. There was an island on the original lake (not the island you can see today, which is only about 300 years old) and William ll built a palace on it in 1248 (no visible remains, of course).
The 'pond' was re-shaped to its existing rectangle in the 1300s, which is what makes me think it's the oldest bit of Den Haag which is still visible.
The Hofvijver has the Binnenhof buildings and the Mauritshuis museum on one side and a small but pleasant park area on the other. I'm sure it's a lovely place to sit and enjoy the view when the weather is pleasant. When I visited the sun was bright but the wind bitterly cold: not a day for sitting outside anywhere!
The statue in the photo is 'Jantje' (Little John) who points to the Binnenhof. He may be the John who features in a children's song about Den Haag or..maybe..he is the John who was a past Count of Holland from the 1200s who died at the age of 15. Whatever his origins, you'll find the statue in the strip of parkland on the side of the Hofjiver.
The Escher Museum features a great collection of mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints works by the famous Dutch artist. The museum is located in the former Winter Palace of Queen Emma of the Netherlands.
The palace has beautiful, coloured themed rooms that are stunning. which houses a fantastic collection of his works, is located in the former Winter Palace and is beautiful. The stunning chandeliers are designed by Rotterdam-based artist Hans van Bentem. Admission is €8,50.
Few people know that The Hague also has lovely canals and that a boat tour of these canals, De Ooievaart, is available (since 2003).
The canals of The Hague are almost 400 years old. They were created for the city’s defence around 1612.
The regular tour takes you through old and new parts of The Hague, including under bridges and through tunnels. You will see a variety of beautiful buildings and special places, among them the Royal Stables and the Royal Gardens.
The Ooievaart canal tour takes about 1 1/2 hours.
VIDEO of my tour:
The Louwman Museum is a museum for historic cars, located on the outskirts of The Hague towards Wassenaar (Netherlands). From the period up to 1910 the museum has the largest collection of cars in the world.
The museum was opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on July 3, 2010.
The collection of over 230 cars has been assembled since 1934 by two generations of the Louwman family. The current owner of the collection is Evert Louwman, the Dutch importer of Lexus, Toyota and Suzuki. It is the oldest private collection of automobiles in the world open to the public.
From post-World War II the museum features a car of Winston Churchill, the Aston Martin DB5 used in the James Bond movie Goldfinger, and a Cadillac of Elvis Presley.
The Louwman Museum is housed in a building with three floors and over 10,000 m2 of exhibition space. It was specifically designed as a museum by Michael Graves, an American architect. Landscape architect Louis Baljon designed the layout of the park surrounding the building.
Pictures of most of the cars can be seen on the website:
VIDEO of my visit:
Although I did not stay at the hotel (I used my date of experience instead) I am going to warn...more
Even though I live in The Hague, I've stayed in this hotel once and it was lovely. It is in a great...more
Superior service and a great staff. Breakfast included was an unexpected surprise. Very clean and...more