Aware of the terrible traffic on Holland’s motorways we made sure to arrive early in Den Haag (The Hague) and did so a little bit before 8 AM. We parked the car in the underground parking of the Spui, right in the center of Den Haag, under the New Town Hall. The parking is a bit expensive with 30 euro for a day, but the location and access to it, are marvelous. Across the Spui square there is the New Church, with it’s remarkable hexagon shape, but it was not open for visitors. We walked north to the Binnenhof where the first and second chamber of the Dutch parliament are situated, and the Hofvijver a large pond with a fountain.
From the edge of the pond we had a nice view of the ‘Torentje’, the official office of the Dutch prime minister and the Mauritshuis, the art museum that houses the Royal Cabinet of Paintings. We wanted to visit this museum, but it opens at ten and it was still before nine. So we had time to wander around a bit. The long drive to Den Haag and walking in the cool summer morning air had aroused some hunger, so we decided to try the breakfast at ‘t Goude Hooft, an inn with a large terrace, a bit to the south of the Binnenhof. The breakfast was extensive, with a selection of cheeses and cold cuts, croissants, fruit, coffee and a glass of prosecco, and delicious.
After breakfast we walked northwest to the Prinssessewal and the Paleistuin, a nice park next to Noordeinde Palace, the working palace of the Dutch King.
The park is nice, but nothing special. We heard the sound of hoofs, not surprising since we were near the royal stables, and saw a carriage with an eight-span in the street. Eight muscular black Friesian horses going for their morning exercise. We waited until the horses had disappeared through the gate of the royal stables and moved on to Noordeinde. A street lined with art shops that brought us to the front of Noordeinde Palace.
We arrived back at the Mauritshuis at ten and were thanks to our e-tickets the first to enter the exhibition. To me, the five most remarkable pieces here are The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, View of Delft, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Rembrandt’s Self-portrait and Night Scene. And my favorite is View of Delft by Vermeer.
After visiting the museum, we noticed the cheese market on the square besides the Mauritshuis. Due to the large breakfast, we left the cheese for what it was, and strolled through the city to the house of Spinoza, where the philosopher died in 1677. From there we headed north, crossing the Grand Market, to the Grote Kerk, the protestant church named for it’s high tower and the Old City Hall, with it’s distinguished red colored shutters. Like the New Church, the Grote Kerk was also closed for visitors. We continued further north and after about twenty minutes we reached the Peace Palace, which houses among some other institutions, the International Court of Justice.
Both the palace as the palace gardens are beautiful, but they are not accessible for visitors. We were now halfway between the city center and the Municipal Museum, the second museum of Den Haag we wanted to visit. The museum exhibits a collection of Piet Mondriaan and others of ‘De Stijl’ art movement. In the entrance hall we were greeted by a Panamarenko statue.
We walked back south to the 1813 square, commemorating the Dutch Independence after Napoleon, and had a drink at the Hooigracht. After this alcoholic intermezzo we visited the Escher Museum, dedicated to the Dutch graphical artist M. C. Escher. A bit to the east of the museum lays the Malieveld, a very large grass field, where we enjoyed some Poffertjes, traditional Dutch small pancakes. Having seen everything we wanted in the center of Den Haag, we went for the car and drove a few kilometers to the North Sea beach at Scheveningen. Here we concluded our visit to Den Haag with a mango-coconut ice cream, that we ate in an ice cream parlor while looking at the North Sea.
Den Haag is a nice and clean city, ideal for a one day visit. The churches are closed, and bakeries very hard to find, but you’ll trip over art shops and there are several museums and art works that make it a journey worth to take.