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Netherlands: Amsterdam, Delft, Edam, Haarlem, Madurodam, Marken, The Hague, Volendam, Zaanse Schans
The Hague, the Netherlands: City of Peace and Justice
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
The Hague's current role as host to international organisations and the international community is part of a tradition dating back more than 750 years. Known as the 'Legal Capital of the World', The Hague has been an international city and a centre of legal knowledge for several centuries.
Since the late 16th century, when the government of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was founded in The Hague, the city has been a home to foreign diplomats. It was in The Hague that the famous jurist Hugo Grotius wrote his book Mare Liberum (The Freedom of the Sea). Published in 1609, this work forms the basis for modern international law.
The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government and parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Council of State, but the city is not the capital of the Netherlands which constitutionally is Amsterdam.
From Madurodam I took a tram and alighted at Den Haag Centraal station. For the next two hours I would be exploring The Hague on foot. The priority, of course was the Old Town, mainly Binnenhof. To reach the location I had to walk through the Centrum – a busy neighbourhood of commercial buildings and shopping malls. Spui is an impressive brick-laid road in the district.
The Binnenhof (Inner Court) is a complex of buildings in The Hague's city centre. At its centre, one finds the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) and the court is studded with monumental old buildings testifying to eight centuries of governing in the Low Countries.
The Binnenhof also has several ample open spaces; all freely open to the public. A gilt neogothic fountain adorns the main square and one of the few Dutch equestrian statues (of King William II) guards the main Stadtholder's Gate, which dates from around 1600.
The Binnenhof is where the House of Representatives meets, the Prime Minister works and the ministers hold their weekly consultations. Once a year, the Senate and the House of Representatives meet in the Ridderzaal in a joint session of the States General. This session takes place on the third Tuesday of September, i.e. ‘Prinsjesdag’, when the Dutch head of state presents the government’s plans for the coming year in the ‘Speech from the Throne’.
Just next to Binnenhof is a bridge famous for The Hague Bridge Project. At the time of my visit the bridge adorned flags of many countries. The city of The Hague is home to thousands of expats. During their stint in The Hague, expats do not necessarily integrate with the local population. However, they do need to get to know the city, local residents and other expats as well. The Hague Bridge Project under the patronage of the Mayor of The Hague addresses this need. Various programs are organized to gel the expats with the locals.
Taking the road back from the opposite direction I reached the station. On the way I crossed the History Museum, the famous Koninklijke Schouwburg (the Royal Theatre) and the massive Malieveld Park.
It was now time to board my train to visit Haarlem.
The Hague Image Gallery Photo viewer
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