The Hague is the international city of peace and justice and the third largest city in the Netherlands. It is also the official seat of the Crown and government, home to hundreds of international organisations and multinationals and one of the world’s top three UN cities.
City of Peace and Justice
The Hague is a true place of deliberation and sets the perfect setting for high level conferences and business events.The Peace Palace has become an icon of international justice. In fact, the city has conferencing and high-level decision making in its DNA. It is no exaggeration to state that decisions made in The Hague affect the entire world and the whole of humanity. The Hague’s international orientation makes it a highly attractive location for all types of businesses and organisations.
Home to Kings and Queens
The ties between The Hague and the royal family go as far back as 1248. King Willem Alexander actually lives and works in The Hague, and some of the many beautiful palaces in the city are still in royal use. Lange Voorhout Palace was the official residence of Queen Emma until 1891. Later, Dutch Queens Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix all used it as their formal reception palace. Today, the building houses a museum.
Prince’s Day is an annual ceremony held on the third Tuesday of September. The reigning monarch rides from Noordeinde Palace in the famous horse-drawn Golden Carriage to the medieval Hall of Knights at the Binnenhof to deliver the Speech from the Throne. The speech sets out the main features of government policy for the coming parliamentary year.
The Golden Carriage was a gift from the citizens of Amsterdam to Queen Wilhelmina to commemorate her 1898 investiture. Craftsmen used materials from all parts of the world to construct the carriage and covered the outside in gold leaf. The carriage is beautifully decorated with detailed paintings and symbolic figures, which represent the four activities on which the prosperity of the nation depends: shipping, commerce, labour and agriculture.
Noordeinde Palace is situated on one of The Hague’s most attractive shopping streets: Noordeinde. Following a thorough restoration in 1984, the palace became Queen Beatrix’s workplace. It is also the location where the Queen traditionally salutes the gathered crowd from the balcony on Prince’s Day. Situated to the rear of the palace, The Palace Garden is a gracefully laid out park with neo-classical architecture. Open to the public from sunrise to sunset (admission is free), the garden makes a fabulous picnic spot in summer and serves as a green oasis of peace and tranquillity right in the heart of this stately city.
Lange Voorhout Palace is located in one of the most beautiful areas of The Hague. The palace was built in Louis XVI style and its interior decorated in Rococo. Queen Emma lived here at the beginning of the 20th century and both Queens Juliana and Beatrix used it as their work and formal reception palace. In 1990, the building was sold to the Municipality of The Hague and currently houses the Escher Museum.
The Hague is a city of international importance with many faces, home to many different cultures. Once little more than a country house near a pond, The Hague has developed into a city of international character and importance, a never-ending story: a little bit of history is added every day.
The Counts’ Hedge
Though officially called Den Haag, the locals often refer to it as ‘s-Gravenhage, literally: ‘The Counts’ Hedge’. The Counts of Holland enjoyed hunting and took special interest in the area’s vast forests that reached from Gravenzande to Leiden in the Middle Ages, the remains of which are now known as the Haagse Bos. Originally basing themselves near the pond now known as the Hofvijver in the centre of The Hague, in the 13th century Count Willem II built the Binnenhof, or current houses of parliament, on the same spot. Lacking city rights, The Hague was unable to build the traditional wall and moat system of the day, so a town hall was built which can still be seen today in the Groenmarkt.
The keys to the city
The Hague is first chartered as a village called Die Haghe, until Louis Napoleon, King of the Netherlands from 1806, took entry. He insisted that by the following day he ‘be offered the keys of the city at a ceremony in The Hague.’ Without walls, or even a gate, the city couldn’t offer much in the line of actual keys. In some haste the elders asked the silversmith François Simons to produce two gilded silver keys which were offered to the king on an embroidered cushion. A few months later Napoleon proclaimed The Hague ‘third city of the kingdom’.
The birth of a reputation
By 1851 local legislation no longer distinguished cities from villages and they all became municipalities, or gemeenten, with The Hague as the Royal Residence and Amsterdam as the capital. As a government town and seat of the monarchy, The Hague attracted many embassies and began its reputation as an international city.
The Royal Residence was not walled. In full view of its surroundings it rose proudly from the fields, water and dunes. Vulnerable but hospitable, the city welcomed all visitors who arrived by canal boat, stagecoach or ship, and the town grew gradually until the Industrial Revolution, when growth exploded. Suddenly The Hague attracted migrants from near and far, overcrowding the town and forcing development to continue outside the original city centre, an area known aptly enough as The Hague New Centre.
The 20th century
The 20th century saw The Hague’s coming of age as an international city of peace and justice. In 1899 hundreds of delegates from 26 countries gathered for 3 months at Huis ten Bosch for the First Peace Conference. An effort to set standards for conflict resolution between nations, it gave birth to the Permanent Court of Arbitration and was followed by an even larger Second Peace Conference in The Hague in 1907.
The Third Hague Peace Conference, planned for 1915, was usurped by the First World War, but four years of trench warfare did their work and the Conference’s ideals were institutionalised in a Permanent Meeting of the League of Nations in Switzerland. In The Hague the ideals took actual form: the world-famous Peace Palace, financed by Andrew Carnegie, was officially opened in 1913 on the eve of the First World War. Home to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, it welcomed the Permanent Court of International Justice (under the League of Nations) in 1922 and is now the seat of its successor, the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
The international reputation of The Hague continues to develop. The city centre still features the ancient buildings where its history was forged, with world-class, modern architecture sprouting like exotic flowers around, and the international organisations in the International Zone continue to expand in both reach and number. The UN Security Council established the Yugoslavia Tribunal in 1993 to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the former Yugoslavia. The International Criminal Court was established in The Hague in 2002, and the OPCW and many other organisations make their home here. Click here for more information on the international organisations based in The Hague.
The Tourist Office of the city of The Hague will be present at the ECCB 2016. A friendly hostess will give you all the information you need. Of course the hostess can inform you in detail about all the beautiful attractions, the interesting museums and the international shopping possibilities in The Hague. She can also make restaurant reservations, call a taxi, answer questions about public transport and arrange public transport tickets. In short, you are in good hands with our hostess.
More information on The Hague you will find on http://denhaag.com/en.