Not only is The Hague the legal capital of the world and the International City of Peace, Justice and Security, it is also the center of government for the Netherlands. Every year on the third Tuesday in September all of Holland turns to The Hague as the Queen addresses the joint houses of Parliament officially opening the Dutch parliamentary session on Prinsjedag (day of the princes). The Hague also plays host to the United Nation’s Day of Peace on September 21, a day of non-violence and ceasefire around the world.
Thousands of people line the streets on Prinsjedag, waiting to get a glimpse of the Queen as she passes notable city landmarks in her golden coach, such as Lange Voorhour and Korte Vijverberg on the way to the Ridderzaal (Knight’s Hall) in the Binnenhof. While more than 1,500 students participated in the fourth annual Peace Walk through The Hague on the day of peace a few days later past some of the city’s numerous international courts, tribunals and organizations whose goal is to bring about world peace.
Using the route of the golden coach and the Peace Walk as your guide, make your own procession through The Hague, visiting palaces, parliament buildings and museums filled with works by world famous Dutch artists.
Begin your walk at the Binnenhof (“Inner Court”) home to Dutch politics since 1446. Other buildings on the grounds include the Ridderzaal (Knight’s Hall), where the queen annually addresses the Parliament, and the Torentje (Little Tower), the office of the Prime Minister. Be sure to take a stroll around the perimeter of the courtyard, where you will find open spaces for the public to enjoy and the lake, the Hofvijver.
Overlooking the Hofvijver is The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis. This intimate museum located in the 17th century palace of a Dutch count is home to a grand collection of paintings by Dutch and Flemish artists, such as Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Paul Rubens, Frans Hals and Pieter Brueghel, and includes the famous works Girl With A Pearl Earring, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp and Laughing Boy.
Built with money donated from Andrew Carnegie, the Peace Palace is one of the most photographed landmarks in The Hague and is home to the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ highest legal authority. The building is surrounded by a 17-acre garden, which is open to the public and houses the world’s most extensive international law libraries and a museum. The Peace Palace and the museum are open to the public via guided tours.
Complete your tour of The Hague with a visit to the royal palaces where the figurative leader of the Dutch government, Queen Beatrix lives and works. Palace Huis ten Bosch (House in the Woods), tucked away in the Haagse Bos, was used as a summer home for the royal families until 1981 when Queen Beatrix and her family moved into the palace making it the official royal residence. The Hague’s other royal residence, Noordeinde Palace, is used as the “working palace” for the queen and her staff. While neither palace is open to the public, the beautiful parks and woods surrounding the respective buildings are available for the public to enjoy.