The Hague

Planning a trip to Den Haag (The Hague) in the Netherlands

Holland's elegant government center (Amsterdam is officially the capital city, but this is where the politics get done) is well-balanced between the old and the ultra-modern, its cityscape a mix of mansions, parks, government buildings, and palaces (Queen Beatrix's woodlands home palace, Huis ten Bosch, can be viewed from the gardens; Het Paleis in the center of town was the home of the Queen Mother and now houses exhibits from the Municipal Museum).

It also has lots of small parks, and government buildings (the Binnenhof, or Parliament, is a 13th century hunting lodge converted into the seat of government with fantastic oversized-rustic chambers like the imposing Hall of Knights with its 85-foot oak ceiling; the Peace Palace, or Vredespaleis, built in 1907-13, houses the famous International Courts of Justice and Permanent Court of Arbitration, where most major war criminals are tried).

Some more cheesy but fun sights include the Panorama Mesdag, a 395-foot-long, 360-degree wall painting that artfully recreates the fishing village of Scheveningen as it was in 1800 (great optical illusion, helped by the dunes made of real sand that stand between you and parts of the painting). To see the real thing today, check out the "Beaches" section.

Be sure to stop at the Madurodam, a weird "Holland in a Nutshell" attraction that creates a fictional Dutch city (featuring the most famous buildings and monuments throughout Holland) at 1:25 actual size over 28,000 square yards (this thing is pretty complex: the tiny trains actually run, planes taxi on the runway, a town fair percolates in one corner, and the street lights flare to life after dark).

Den Hague has lots of accommodations, but probably the best-priced hotel in town is the Paleishotel (tel. 070/362-4621), at Molenstraat 26 next-door to the Palace Noordeinde, where the elegant doubles go for only $87 to $110.

To save even more, the Hotel 't Centrum (tel. 070/346-3657) is a small family-run hotel a short walk from the center with $63 doubles.

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs ©Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board

This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in June 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.