The Hague – Hidden history
There is more to the political capital than meets the eye.
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To many, The Hague is mainly associated with the government of the Netherlands. The corona press conferences come from there and many protests take place on the famous Malieveld. But the municipality has much more to offer than politics. On our tour we explore the diverse history of The Hague and Scheveningen, how the towns themselves changed and how they influenced the rest of the Netherlands. Along the way you will see centuries old buildings, the cradle of mass tourism in the Netherlands, remnants of the world wars and much, much more.
In 1818 Jacob Pronk opened the first bathhouse in Scheveningen. It was made out of wood and consisted of four bathrooms and a small waiting area. This was the beginning of tourism in Scheveningen, and with it, The Hague. Ten years later, the city council bought this bathhouse and turned it into one of the biggest in the Netherlands. Since then, Scheveningen beach has grown into the most well-known and popular beach in the Netherlands with almost 4 million visitors every year. On this tour you will follow the trail of these visitors from over 200 years ago and revisit some of the places they visited and see how the city has changed.
- Start the tour at The Hague Central Station.
- Walk from here along the Herengracht and Korte Poten to Het Plein. Nowadays, het Plein is the main nightlife area in the city. Surrounded by many pubs and clubs, the square is a great place to have a beer and socialize (If Covid allows: please take your time to do so!).
- Leave het Plein in the north east corner and head towards het Binnenhof, where the House of Representatives of The Netherlands meets. This is considered the political centre of the Netherlands. The building in the middle of het Binnenhof dates back to the 13th century and functioned as the reception room of the palace, the first count of the Hague built.
- Stroll through the Stadhouderspoort, and step into het Buitenhof (Outer Court) to the west where you’ll see an equestrian statue of King Willem II and the 13th century Hofvijver (Court Pond).
- To see the famous Torentje (The Little Tower) you should walk around the Hofvijver. It is located adjacent to the Mauritshuis (just outside of the courtyard). This octagonal tower, built in the Middle Ages and restored and expanded during the reign of Charles V, served over time as a residence, warehouse, and prison. In the 19th century, the tower became the workplace of the Secretary-General and currently houses the Office of the Prime Minister.
- After getting your fill of history and longing for another beer, walk to the Grote Markt. This will take about 10 minutes. From the statue, head South-East until you reach de Grote Kerk. This church is, together with het Binnenhof, the oldest building in The Hague. Turn left onto the Grote Markt where you can sit on one of the many terrasses and have a beer. A famous Haagse brewery is Kompaan, with many different types of beer. If you do sit down, ask your waiter for the options and enjoy!
- Head back to the city centre where you can take Tram 1 to Scheveningen.
- Take the tram to ‘Scheveningen – Beelden aan Zee’. Go out and submerge in the feeling of past glory and typical 20th century mass tourism,
- The main attraction in Scheveningen is, naturally, the beach. Head to the boulevard where you can admire the sea-views as well as the passage of time. Next to the Museum Beelden aan Zee you will find a collection of fun sculptures.
- Follow the boulevard to the famous Kurhaus, officially the Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus The Hague. Situated behind this building is the Gevers Deynootplein, surrounded by typical mass tourism attractions as the casino, cinema and restaurants.
- Don’t forget to buy some fish, especially a herring, somewhere in the village, as Scheveningen is originally a fishermen town. (When going for the full experience: combine the fish with a (cheap) beer, a combination Scheveningen is famous for, and is said to be the first ‘tourists’ magnet for the village, dating back to the 17th century).
- After visiting the ‘Scheveninger Pier’, head northeast along the beach for about 1 km, you will see old concrete bunkers in the dunes on your right. These bunkers hide more history than you would think and put their mark on Scheveningen forever.
- At beach restaurant “Het Puntje”, turn right into the dunes and follow the path.
- You will get to an old water tower which can be seen from miles away. Here we will explain the unique way in which drinking water is produced in the dunes.
- This is the end of the tour, from here you can either stroll further through the dunes and along the beach or take the road to the nearest bus stop to head back home.
We hope you had a wonderful tour around the city centre of The Hague and the beautiful beach area of Scheveningen! Even though the pandemic does not allow for international trips, hopefully this tour showed you that a day trip (not far from Utrecht) is just as well spent and entertaining!