Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Hague, Netherlands

Den Haag (The Hague) - The Netherlands

By Federica Cagliani

Just 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam, you can find The Hague, city founded during the XIII century, as headquarters of diplomats and of the royal family. Currently, the center is represented by the modern Spuikwartier, where it is visible the Municipal office, designed by the famous architect Richard Meyer.

Binnenhof- In the XIII it was the shooting ground of the royal family. Now this old building comprises the Parliament and the offices of the Dutch government. Excellent place to think about Dutch history.
Vredespaleis (Peace Palace)- In 1899 The Hague hosted the first international meeting for peace. The nations interested in this event helped the city to decorate the palace, build with a Gothic style. Starting from 1946, the Vredespaleis hosts the International Court of Justice, main judicial body of the United Nations. Now it is possible to view the main building and park around.
Mauritshuis-  One of the most prestigious museums in the Netherlands, full of magnificent canvas by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Dutch painters. It is closed till 2015, due to a renovation, but some of its works of art are visible in another museum in the Hague, the Geementemuseum.
Scheveningen- 15 minutes by tram or by bike from the center of the city, there is this beautiful seaside resort. Do not miss the Kurhaus, luxury hotel, but watering place since 1885. Nice the promenade along the sea to appreciate the sand dunes and in the distance the cargo ships ready to dock at the Rotterdam harbor.

De Haagsche Markt (The Hague market) - It is the biggest market of Europe, with more than 500 stands. One can buy food, clothes, electronic devices, soaps and perfumes, together with Dutch, Turkish, Surinamese and Moroccan typical food. Excellent place to understand the ethnical culture of the city. It is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 to 17 and easily accessible by tram.

The Hague has an excellent system of trams and buses that permits to reach every corner of
the city. The ticket costs 3€ and it is valid 30 minutes. It is possible to make a card(OV-chipkaart) to pay a reduced price. The city is linked with the rest of the Netherlands in an good way by train. The International Airport of Amsterdam is 30 minutes by train, while the airport of Eindhoven is 90 minutes by train.

The typical Dutch food includes pork, sausages, fish, cabbage and potatoes. In the numerous fish restaurants of Scheveningen it is possible to taste the famous haring with chips or the sole fried in butter. Thanks to the colonial past of the Netherlands, in the Hague there are small Indonesian restaurants, where one can eat the Rijsttafel, 20 small portions of spicy meat and fish to sample with rice or Indonesian noodles. There is not only Indonesian food, but also numerous Greek, Italian, Spanish and Mexican restaurants, especially in the center.

In addition to the Hague market, where one could find almost everything, in the center there are some big stores such as De Bijenkorf, full of furnishings, clothes and books at high costs. Less expensive, there is Vroom & Dreesmann, where one can but delicious chocolate at an affordable price.

During the spring and the summer, there are some interesting events in The Hague, that attract people from every corner of the Netherlands.
Vlaggetjesdag(begin of June), It celebrates the arrival of the first fished herrings of the year, with music, food and shows about the sailor art. The festival is centered around Scheveningen harbor.
Vliegerfeest (mid- June), Competition of extraordinary kites due to their dimension and their colors. Also in this case the center of the show is Scheveningen beach.
Pasar Malam Besar (mid –June), Indonesian music, food and dances, together with a market of typical goods located in the Malieveld, the park in Central Station area.
North Sea Jazz (mid- July), 3 days characterized by jazz music. An appointment of the best musicians of the world with free concerts.
Sinterklaas, every Dutch town celebrates the arrival of Santa Claus the third week of November. Magnificent for children the arrival in Scheveningen harbor.
Nieuwjaarsduik, at 12 pm of 1st January, thousands Dutch people wearing their swimsuit dive and swim in the cold water of the North sea. Music, food and a joyful atmosphere to celebrate the arrival of the new year with family and friends.
I hope to meet all you in The Hague!


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