If you follow my blog, then you already might know that one of my favourite things to do is to explore a new place as walking aimlessly and getting lost in it. I love when one discovers new and unexpected travel gems and The Hague (a.k.a. Den Haag) in The Netherlands was a great surprise. You can easily travel from Amsterdam and trains from Amsterdam to The Hague Centraal take roughly 50 minutes. It’s very easy to get around in the Hague and explore on foot (and public transportation is quite expensive). I love the Hague because it has such an international spirit, but still a vibe of a small town. The Hague doesn’t have the same scale as Amsterdam, ie, Miles of canals and multiple historic districts. The Hague’s Center City charms are impressive but concentrated in a very walkable area. Also, the architecture in Den Haag is very beautiful. I have a thing for big windows, bicycles and beautiful and big doors. The typical Netherlands picture.
The Hague is such an important city in the Netherlands. The Hague is home to the International Court of Justice, a center of justice associated with the United Nations, which is located in the Peace Palace. The International Criminal Court, which is responsible for prosecuting international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, is also located in The Hague. In addition to these international courts, the King and Queen of the Netherlands live in the center of The Hague. It’s quite an important city, not only for the Netherlands but the rest of the world.
荷兰一直是个神奇的国度，它总是不断刷新人们的认知，就像大家都知道阿姆斯特丹是荷兰的首都，但却不一定知道荷兰政府其实不在阿姆斯特丹，而是在另一座城市：海牙 (The Hague)。海牙曾是皇室贵族的猎苑，直到16世纪成为了荷兰的政治中心。这里是荷兰中央政府和议会的所在地，荷兰的皇室也在这里，因此海牙是荷兰名副其实的皇城。
Somehow, it feels like a Dutch city without canals isn’t really a Dutch city. That’s based on my admittedly limited experience, but like Amsterdam and Utrecht, you can expect to find canals in the Hague as well. What’s different here is how they blend seamlessly into the city itself. While the canals feel like major, central features of other cities, the canals of the Hague don’t pull focus from all the other stuff going on.
The contrast between the 12th Century Den Haag and 21st century Den Haag is jarring. As you enter the Plein (above) square near the Mauritshuis Museum from the west, you see 18th-and-19th-century buildings neatly juxtaposed against the modern skyline.
The layout of the Hague is curious for a city with such history, in that it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly the very centre of the city is. If it were to be a square though, it would have to the Plein. Afterall, the name literally translates to “square”. Situated just off to the side of the Binnenhof, it’s very much your traditional European square, lined with gorgeous heritage buildings.
But you can also get a taste of the modern when you crane your head up and see the tops of skyscrapers popping up over the rooftops. One building not to be missed on the Plein is the Old Ministry of Justice with its little gilded touches here and there. Most of all, the Plein is a particularly good spot if you’re looking for a drink or food.
左边那栋建筑物是司法部（Departement van Justitie），新文艺复兴式的风格。
While I can only imagine how splendid the whole place is in spring or summer, the bare winter trees somehow added to the dignity of the area. It also meant I was actually able to see all the buildings, given how many trees there must be blocking views in warmer months. Best of all, the park leads to the following attraction.
广场中央的雕像是威廉一世，奥兰治亲王（William II, Price of Orange）。他是尼德兰革命中反抗西班牙哈布斯堡王朝统治的主要领导者、八十年战争领导人之一，曾任荷兰共和国第一任执政。
I am a museum person who also likes free-form wandering around. In Den Haag, you can have both. But you simply cannot not go to the Mauritshuis Museum. This is the anti-Louvre, a manageable collection of the finest Dutch masterpieces in the world, all in an intimate, elegant 17th century mansion with its small rooms and alcoves still in place alongside large galleries. You could easily spend a couple of hours admiring the art as well as the extravagant building. This is a must visit destination if you are interested in classic art.
Most tourists came to see Vermeer’s “The Girl with the Pearl Earring.” And it is amazing to stand six inches away and be struck by how completely modern she is. Unlike the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, you can actually get really close to the painting without struggling to catch a glimpse. All the more bizarre because she’s a tronie. A conceptual image of a stock character, not a portrait of an actual person. Clearly, idealized beauty has not changed radically since the 17th century.
荷兰著名油画《戴珍珠耳环的少女》也收藏在这里。很多人来莫里茨博物馆就是为了看一眼 “北方的蒙娜丽莎” 迷人的笑容。就是这样一幅看似不起眼的油画，却引得许多文人墨客、游人看客在此驻足不前。画中女子闪烁的目光流露出殷切之情，嘴角的弧度流露出一种脱俗的气质，让人很轻易就融化在这含情脉脉的凝望之中。比蒙娜丽莎更亲近，维米尔笔下的少女，与珍珠一样散发着光芒，让人挪不开眼踱不开步。
The Passage is a vestige of the days when shopping really was glamorous. A covered shopping district that’s an UNESCO protected site and the oldest “mall” in the Netherlands. But there’s nothing at all mall-like about the Passage. Like its cousins in Amsterdam, Paris and New York, the Passage was created as a place to linger, and there is a terrific De Luca cafe where you can sit and sip your cappuccino either inside the covered area, or outside on the parallel walking street. The essential European experience. All around the Passage are shopping streets, squares, and the best in urban hubbub.
海牙市区的长廊 (Passage) 令我想到米兰著名的景点伊曼纽尔二世，同样都是顶棚的拱廊街，并有一堆商店进驻。作为海牙的购物天堂，怎能不到独立大街走一走？长长的步行街两边的店铺鳞次栉比，各种名牌店应有尽有。
Shopping is certainly a fun activity to do while spending a day in The Hague. Not only will you find many international brands, but especially a lot of still small, but intriguing shops. The shops vary in function of the neighborhoods.
I think no itinerary for the Hague would be complete without a trip to the Binnenhof. Try taking a stroll through and take in the architecture. The Binnenhof is a cluster of buildings which include the Prime Minister’s office. The Binnenhof supposedly started as a small 12th-century lake house. Today, the Binnenhof houses the Dutch parliament as well as the offices of the prime minister. Also, the current king arrives at the Ridderzhaal in a golden carriage to give speeches on his throne. The mental image of which blows my mind. So this is literally the center of power in the Netherlands.
The Binnenhof is beautiful and down to earth, a perfect courtyard to stroll through in the Hague.
One of the most amazing complexes in the Netherlands is the Binnenhof on the Hofvijver Lake. It also has to be one of the most photographic spots in this oh-so photogenic country. Normally, Government buildings aren’t exactly the most riveting of places but there is a definite historic charm here. Strolling along the side of the Hofvijver you can appreciate just how large the Binnenhof really is, as well as spy many other of the Hague’s most impressive landmarks.
I must admit I’m a bit jealous of the Prime Minister’s swanky office environment, just look at the picture! Spend some time walking by the nearby lake, Hofvijver, and also explore the inner courtyard of the building cluster. In the middle you have The Ridderzaal, a gothic hall where the Dutch monarch delivers the Parliament opening speech on Prinsjesdag. If you’ve seen photos in Dutch newspapers of the royal family or major politicians, this is mainly where they were taken.
和平宫（Vredespaleis / Peace Palace）是海牙另一个地标景点，很多人都因为国际法庭才知道海牙的。这座宫殿之所以被命名为和平宫，是为了表达它对解决争端和维持世界和平的重要性。和平宫是联合国国际法院、国际法图书馆和国际法学院所在地，很多国际战犯都是在这边受审。恰好蓝色调，象征和平与稳定，给人信任，令人安心。和平宫象征着用司法维护之蓝与和平之蓝和谐共存，使这里成为国际和平与正义之都。放眼望去，和平宫宏伟的建筑与蔚蓝色的天空构成和谐画面。
Outside the palace, the gardens feature a number of memorials and monuments honouring its mission of peace. To learn more information about the United Nations organisation, you are able to freely enter the Visitor Centre by the gates. Just by the visitor centre’s entrance there is also a tree covered with messages and wishes of peace contributed by all those who visit this site. The Peace Palace was actually an idea that a Russian and a US diplomat came up with, to provide a home for the Permanent Court of Arbitration. I’ve always thought the Peace Palace was one of the best places to visit in the Hague – this building is so unique and beautiful, and of course, meaningful since it stands for peace all over the world. For countless others, affected and touched by the international decisions taken here, it’s a place of hope, it’s a place of truth, and most importantly, it’s a place of justice. I can’t think of a more positive note to end my trip on than this.
While there are a few canals and the occasional tulip shop, the Hague is undoubtedly very different from what most visitors to The Netherlands imagine, which is surely the postcard-perfect image of Amsterdam. If you’re as interested in the Peace and Justice side of the city as I am, here is everything you can do to get under the skin of this side of The Hague, with these attractions.
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