It is just a 30-minute train ride from the centre of Rotterdam to The Hague, and with so much to see and do, the Dutch political capital makes for the perfect day trip.
Words: Evelien Baks
The Hague has had a royal bearing for hundreds of years, boasting two palaces within its municipal limits, and it is where the Dutch government sits. It also has fantastic shops (check out the Denneweg) and there’s a beach as well for seaside fun and fresh air. It’s only a 30-minute trip from Rotterdam to The Hague’s central station via RET Randstadrail – metro line E. From there, it’s an easy walk to the top attractions. Here are a few of them to pique your curiosity further.
You can’t get much better than the 17th-century Mauritshuis museum for viewing Dutch and Flemmish masters. There are a number of famous paintings housed here, including Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Works by Rembrandt, Rubens and Jan Steen also hang on the walls alongside a further 200 or so other masterpieces. While you are there, don’t forget to take in the beautiful interior, because they certainly didn’t skimp on the décor.
Just around the corner from the Mauritshuis, you will find the Binnenhof and the beating heart of Dutch democracy. The Dutch government is housed here in one of the city’s oldest buildings, where we know Mary, Queen of Scots once walked the hallways. Check out the corner tower – that’s where the Dutch Prime Minister works until late into the night. The King’s speech is given here on the third Tuesday in September in the medieval knights’ hall. It’s also where top-performing Olympic athletes are once again draped with their gold medals on their return from the Games. Register your interest with ProDemos if you would like a guided tour.
The magnificent Binnenhof
With a bit of luck, you might get a glimpse of King Willem-Alexander or Queen Máxima dashing around their ‘working’ palace’. Alas, the large decorative gates are closed to stop inquisitive passers-by from entering the grounds. On some days (Wednesdays usually) a guard of honour might be standing out front if an important visitor is expected. A little further along, you’ll find the royal stalls where special carriages are kept, including the House of Orange’s golden coach. By the way, there are some nice shops to be found around Noordeinde as well.
The Vredespaleis is a completely different sort of palace. It’s where the International Court of Justice has resided for more than 60 years. The institution was set up by a number of countries that, sickened by the violence of war at the time, came together to set up a beacon of peace. In more recent times, the Vredespaleis has been in the public eye as the location of war crime hearings, including crimes committed in former Yugoslavia. The visitor centre is free to visit and on some days a guided tour is possible, taking you through the 100-year-old palace’s extraordinary interior that is embellished with Italian marble, old Persian carpets and Chinese vases.
Vredespalais in all it’s glory
The Netherlands has many famous buildings and waterways that, despite the land’s relatively small size, wouldn’t be possible to see all in one day… or would it?! Visit Madurodam, the smallest city in the land, and see the country’s greatest buildings and structures all in one place. Experience 17th-century Amsterdam; see how the locks work to keep this low-lying land dry underfoot; discover the country’s cheese centres; and admire significant hotspots such as Rotterdam’s Hotel New York.