Hague's Classic Architectural Jewels (Self Guided), Hague

As the third largest metropolis in the Netherlands, The Hague has plenty to offer architecturally discerning travelers. The city is a living proof of a harmonious coexistence between a modern, easy on the eye skyline and a steeped in history downtown. Owing to its fascinating (political) past, The Hague has a plethora of historic buildings associated with worship, governance, royalty and international legal affairs.

A good number of them date back as far as the feudal period, and, in keeping with the Dutch tradition, are set by the river or canal, which also adds to their beauty. In The Hague, there are buildings that broke new ground in Dutch history – some for their social and political context, others for their visual aesthetics or royal status.

Whether you are an art lover, architecture buff or simply fascinated by The Hague’s role as an international judicial center, you will find plenty of interesting buildings, be it medieval churches or royal palaces, on any given day out there. Here are a few fascinating ones:

Ridderzaal (Knight's Hall) – used mainly for festive gettogethers by the Counts of Holland; once a year, on Prinsjesdag (Prince's Day), the Dutch Sovereign rides to the Hall in the Golden Coach to deliver a throne speech.

Mennonite Church – one of the few Neo-Romanesque churches in The Hague.

Paleis Noordeinde (Noordeinde Palace) – the headquarters of King Willem-Alexander; one of the three palaces used by the Dutch Royal Family.

Vredespaleis (Peace Palace) – seat of many legal organizations, including the International Court of Justice, aka the World Court.

If you wish to discover the distinctive streetscape of The Hague and explore some of the most impressive, centuries-old buildings that make up the city's fabric in more detail, embark on this self-guided journey!
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Hague's Classic Architectural Jewels Map

Guide Name: Hague's Classic Architectural Jewels
Guide Location: Netherlands » Hague (See other walking tours in Hague)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: valery
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)
  • Ridderzaal (Knight's Hall)
  • Kloosterkerk (Monastery Church)
  • Pageshuis (Pages' House)
  • Kneuterdijk Palace
  • Paleiskerk (Palace Church)/Mennonite Church
  • Paleis Noordeinde (Noordeinde Palace)
  • Koninklijke Stallen (Royal Stables)
  • Vredespaleis (Peace Palace)
1
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

1) Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)

The Hague's Nieuwe Kerk (English: New Church) is a Protestant Dutch Baroque temple. The construction began in 1648, at the time of the Protestant conquest in The Netherlands, and was finished in 1656.

The design, by architect Pieter Noorwits, is rather unique and considered a highlight of the early Dutch Protestant church architecture. While the majority of Protestant churches at the time had a rounded floor plan, Noorwits designed two octagonal areas, connected by a slightly smaller section in which the pulpit was set, in accordance with the Protestant principle of centralization.

The design shows both Renaissance and Classicism elements. The two bells, measuring 100.2 cm and 81.5 cm in diameter respectively, were cast in 1656 by Coenraat Wegewaert, who also designed the church's clock.

Another notable feature, the organ, was built by the Dutch master Johannes Duyschot in 1702. It was adjusted in 1867 to suit the more modern Romantic music.

Up until the end of the 19th century, when the canals bordering the site were filled in, the Nieuwe Kerk could be accessed mostly by boat.

In the 20th century, further acoustical adjustments were made to the interior. In 1969 the building was closed for a long renovation and reopened as a concert hall.

Among the dignitaries buried at the Nieuwe Kerk is the 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Ridderzaal (Knight's Hall)

2) Ridderzaal (Knight's Hall) (must see)

Once a year on Prinsjesdag, the Sovereign of the Netherlands rides in a Golden Coach all the way to the Knight's Hall to sit on the Throne and deliver a speech. The Knight's Hall was built by William II, King of the Romans and son of Floris IV of Holland. William died in battle in 1256 but the Knight's Hall was completed by his son, Floris V.

The Hall was used mainly for festive gettogethers by the Counts of Holland. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was used as a storage space and office of the state lottery. By the 19th century the building was in a state of ruin. In 1904 the building was restored in the Gothic style. The interior was designed by Pierre Cuypers.

Lately the Knight's Hall has been the venue for the State Opening of Parliament, the Speech from the Throne on Prinsjesdag, and for receptions and conferences. The government held a celebratory dinner there in honor of Queen Beatrix at her Silver Jubilee. The Hall has also been the venue for Royal Weddings and similar observances.

The Knight's Hall is administered by the Government Buildings Agency. Guided tours are given by the visitors' center of the ProDemos Centre for Democracy and the Rule of Law.
3
Kloosterkerk (Monastery Church)

3) Kloosterkerk (Monastery Church)

The history of the Kloosterkerk (English: Monastery Church) begins in the late 14th century. In 1393, the land where it stands was given to the Amsterdam St. Andrew Monastery, which sold it to the Dominican Order a year later. The Dominicans built on the site a monastery of their own, complete with the church, in 1397.

In 1420 the temple survived a raging fire, and in 1540 was expanded with an enlarged aisle and side chapels.

During the Beeldenstorm (iconoclasm of 1566) it was stripped of Catholic decorations and had only a handful of friars left on the premises – until 1574. In 1583, most of the monastery was demolished, but the church survived again. Abandoned for 12 years and deteriorated, it was nearly demolished.

Having subsequently served as a cavalry company shelter, a cannon foundry, and a munition store, the building was partially reinstated as a place of worship in 1617. On November 3, 1690, the munition store explosion destroyed all but a single wall.

In 1691, the Kloosterkerk was visited by King William III of England, and, in 1813, it had a regiment of Russian Cossacks temporarily quartered at.

The religious services were fully resumed in 1914, only to be suspended again, from May 1940 to 1942, under the German occupation of the Netherlands during WWII.

Between 1952 and 1957 the church underwent thorough renovation and had a wall between the nave and the choir removed.

In 1997, King Willem-Alexander had his Confession in the Kloosterkerk, and more recently, Princess Ariane was baptized here in 2007. The former Queen Beatrix also occasionally visits to attend services.

In 2002, a memorial plaque for Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, a 17th-18th century Danzig (Gdansk)-born physicist and inventor, buried at the Kloosterkerk, was unveiled.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Pageshuis (Pages' House)

4) Pageshuis (Pages' House)

Adjacent to the Monastery Church (Kloosterkerk), the Pageshuis, often erroneously referred to as Pagehuis, stands on a site which originally belonged to the medieval monastery of Vincentius or Predikheeren, served by the Kloosterkerk.

Under the Spanish rule of The Netherlands, the Kloosterkerk was used as a horse stable and arsenal, while its choir housed a cannon foundry. In 1621, an entrance gate, specially for this foundry, was made, and in 1625 the Pageshuis was built nearby.

The building was originally three bays wide – two carved bas-relief heads of war gods Mars and Bellona now mark the original width on the façade. In the 17th century it was extended – one window span to the left; and in the late 18th century the Chinese room was added above the entrance.

The house takes its name from the pages of the Prince of Orange – the young men from prominent families, who were trained as cadets at the Delft Academy. When summoned to The Hague to fulfill their court duties, the boys were quartered here.

The property served to accommodate the pages until 1828. That year, King William I founded the Royal Military Academy in Breda; after the institution moved there, the Pageshuis became part of the Royal Stables.

Between the 19th and 20th centuries, the building served as the headquarters of the Dutch Red Cross. In 1912, Prince Hendrik, chairman of the Dutch Red Cross, had it thoroughly restored. The current entrance is a reconstruction based on a gate on Hartogstraat in The Hague, which also dates from the early 17th century.

Today, the Pageshuis is used as an office; it opens to the public once a year, during the Open Monument Day.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Kneuterdijk Palace

5) Kneuterdijk Palace

Kneuterdijk Palace is a former royal palace of the Netherlands located in The Hague, nowadays the seat of the Council of State (Raad van State).

Built in 1716 in the Louis XIV style by architect Daniel Marot, it was commissioned by Count Johan Hendrik of Wassenaer-Obdam, member of the House of Wassenaer. The palace served as a residence for King William II of the Netherlands and his wife Queen Anna Paulowna in the first half of the 19th century, when he was still the crown prince. William II added several buildings designed in the English Tudor style, of which only the so-called “Gothic Hall” has survived. The hall was designed after the great dining hall of Christ Church, Oxford, of which William II was an alumnus.

Their grandson Crown Prince William used the palace from 1858 till his death in 1879. In the 1930s the place was occasionally used by Princess Juliana. After World War II Dutch war criminals were tried in the former ballroom, some of whom were sentenced to death. Then the Ministry of Finance used the building for many years. Since restoration work was completed in 2001 the palace has been in use by the Netherlands' Council of State.

The Council of State is a constitutionally established advisory body in the Netherlands to the government and States General that officially consists of members of the royal family and Crown-appointed members generally having political, commercial, diplomatic or military experience. It was founded in 1531, making it one of the world's oldest still-functioning state organisations.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Paleiskerk (Palace Church)/Mennonite Church

6) Paleiskerk (Palace Church)/Mennonite Church

The Paleiskerk (English: Palace Church), also known as the Mennonite Church, is one of the few Neo-Romanesque temples in The Hague. Situated behind Kneuterdijk Palace, hence the name, this single-aisled hall church was designed by the Hague architect Klaas Stoffels as a challenge to the ornate Neo-Gothic architecture prevalent at the start of the reign of King William III.

The church was built in 1885-1886 for the Mennonite community, hence the other name, and is distinguished by wonderful triangular section of the front wall, with a monumental central rose window in the gable, flanked by two large round-arched windows on the façade and several more on the side walls.

In 1964, the ground floor (with the exception of the north façade) and the interior of the church underwent drastic modernization by the architect Sjoerd Schamhart, assuming a different 20th-century style. The organ, custom-made for the Paleiskerk in 1886, was removed, along with the large, three-part pulpit. Similar fate befell the church's chairs, in 2006.

The effects of the 1964 remodeling of the exterior and layout were undone during another restoration, in 2002, by architect Laurens Vis. He returned the Paleiskerk as much as possible to its original state of 1886, with the architectural spatial effect and the interior detailing restored. A small, modern pipe organ, built in 1967, was set up, which was then further modified in 2005.

Since the restoration, in addition to its regular church service, the Paleiskerk has been hosting weddings, concerts, and other public events. The Russian Don Cossack choir has performed here among others, and the Louis Couperus Society hold their annual meetings in April.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Paleis Noordeinde (Noordeinde Palace)

7) Paleis Noordeinde (Noordeinde Palace)

Noordeinde Palace is one of the three palaces used by the Dutch Royal Family. It is located in The Hague and it is the headquarters of King Willem-Alexander. The palace was originally a farmhouse dating from medieval times. It was redone as a larger residence by Willem van de Goudt in 1553.

The house was bought by the States of Holland and given to Louise de Coligny. Louise was the widow of William of Orange and mother of Prince Fredrick Hendrick. The family was presented with the house in recognition of William's services to the country.

Fredrick Hendrick made major changes to the house which was then known as the Oude Hof. He commenced buying neighboring sections of land. Alterations were handled by Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen. They lengthened the building and added wings on each side, giving it the shape it has today.

The Oude Hof remained empty for a long time after the passing of Fredrick Hendrick and his wife, Amalia van Solms. In 1702 it went to King Fredrick I of Prussia. King Fredrick sold his holdings in Holland to Stadtholder William V in 1754. William's tenancy was short-lived. The French invaded Holland in 1795 and William fled to England.

Today the house is State property, but the gardens around the house are open to the public. In 1976 the Institute of Social Studies was located in the north wing. After major restorations the palace was made the monarch's office for political and state affairs.
8
Koninklijke Stallen (Royal Stables)

8) Koninklijke Stallen (Royal Stables)

The Koninklijke Stallen (English: Royal Stables) is a multifaceted building, adjacent to the Noordeinde Palace and the Paleis Tuin (Palace Garden).

The eclectic, Renaissance-style, four-wing complex, enclosing a rectangular, fully paved courtyard, was designed by the Dutch architect Hugo Pieter Vogel. It was completed within the period of 1876-1879 and was built on the site for which part of the Palace Garden was sacrificed. The front of the building was slightly set back from the main road, so as to provide room for making a turn by entering and exiting carriages.

The central part of the façade is surmounted by a semicircular pediment adorned with the coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, above which is a raised roof, culminating in a needle spire. The corner pavilions are also crowned with round pediments, each carrying a horse head medallion.

The facility houses horses as well as carriages of the royal family, including (since 1898) the Golden Coach. Also kept here are the court cars and the Irish half-breed Wexy (1802-1840), the stuffed horse of the then future King William II, which was wounded by a gunshot during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

At the start of the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, there were 52 horses in the stables. In the summer of that year, 34 horses were sold before the German occupying forces could confiscate them. During the war years, the proceeds were used to buy food for the remaining horses and pay for the stables maintenance.

As the property of the Royal Stable Department, the building is normally not open to the public. Since 2016, however, this national monument can be visited, during summer, for a period of several weeks.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Vredespaleis (Peace Palace)

9) Vredespaleis (Peace Palace) (must see)

The Peace Palace (Vredespaleis) is often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice (which is the principal judicial body of the United Nations), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.

In addition to hosting these institutions, the Palace is also a regular venue for special events in international policy and law. The Palace officially opened on August 28, 1913, and was originally built to provide a symbolic home for the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a court created to end war which was created by treaty at the 1899 Hague Peace Conference.

The building is in the Neo-Renaissance style which was designed by French architect Louis M. Cordonnier. The palace initially has one big bell tower in front and one small one in the back.

The Palace is filled with many gifts of the different nations who attended the Second Hague Conference as a sign of their support. Among the gifts are a 3.2-tonne (3.1-long-ton; 3.5-short-ton) vase from Russia, doors from Belgium, marble from Italy, a fountain from Denmark, wall carpets from Japan, the clock for the clock tower from Switzerland, Persian rugs from Persia and wood from Indonesia and the United States of America.

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