Since we’ve moved in NL we’ve visited The Hague many times, but none of the trips were as a tourist. The Hague it is most known for the Peace Palace, the place where states are judged and where peace is the highest priority. Another thing which comes in mind when I think about The Hague is that, even if Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands, most of (if not all) the public (political) institutions are based in The Hague.
It is quite easy to get here, there’s a direct train from Amsterdam and also another one from the airport. The Hague Centraal station is at less than 10 minutes walking from the market square and other tourist attractions. The city center is big and filled with objectives, but we had the below 3 on our list.
Not far from the train station (tram 9 has a stop exactly at the entrance), Madurodam should be on everybody’s list when it comes to visiting The Hague. The small theme park presents in miniature important buildings and neighborhoods from all around the country (and even Curacao – the first picture on the left from below). Outside the beautiful, carefully placed houses, from spot to spot, grey metallic machines are there for you to view a video, play a game or take a photo. Due to all of these activities the visit was more on the entertainment side, than on the cultural side.
Only 2 km walking through Scheveningen park (from Madurodam) Peace Palace awaits for visitors to admire the 100 years old building, built in 7 years with donations from all around the world. Even if the gardens and the palace are closed for visits during winter time, the visitors center – a small room used as a museum shop – offers the possibility to have audio tour for 30 minutes, for free, in which the history of the place and the idea behind the peace agreement between the countries is told as a story. And since you cannot have peace without war and the other way around, many information about WWI are displayed, especially because after only 1 year since the palace was finished the war burst. The tour will give you the general information about the place, but I guess a visit during summer time it would be more fruitfully.
If there’s something you will never miss while visiting any city in NL is the art: such a small country with so many painters and ideas, exploding at each corner and being present on each wall of a museum. I’ve never heard about Mesdag until my friends proposed to visit his museum, especially for the Mesdag Panorama. The museum is quite close to the Peace Palace and it is also a small one: 3 rooms with diverse paintings of Mesdag itself and his wife, which helped him also in the panorama process. I liked the fury of the sea he used to paint and the colors, which are not bright. Initially when I heard about the panorama I imagined that it will be normal sized painting, so I was totally surprised when we’ve entered the room. First you need to go through a dark passage and climb some stairs and in the moment your head is entering the upper level, the brightness of the room and the immense panorama will give you the impression that you reached for real the beach. Not to mention the fact that you admire the painting standing in a wooden pavilion, situated on sand and this gives you even more sense of reality. The experience is extraordinary and I highly recommend it.
From Mesdag Panorama we’ve walked around the old city center, as the night started to fall at only 5 pm during winter. The Hague is a lovely city, a little bit too big for my taste, but for sure it has its charm and beauty.