The third largest city in the Netherlands, Den Haag or The Hague is not like other Dutch cities. For starters it is much greener and more open, with wider streets and fewer canals. A lot of the city was bombed during the Second World War and has since been redeveloped. In addition to this, the city has expanded hugely in its role as a major centre for the UN (along with Geneva and New York).
Because of this, and other historic factors such as its importance as a port city when the Netherlands occupied Indonesia, the city has a hugely diverse population and function. It is home to 150 international organisations including the various international courts of justice, which is where trials of war criminals are held. The majestic early twentieth century Peace Palace is a symbol of The Hague’s importance as a center for settling international disputes; it houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration, established in 1899 and the oldest of these courts.More locally, The Hague is the official base of the Dutch Monarchy and Queen Beatrix lives and works here. Naturally, nearly every country in the world has an embassy in The Hague.
As a visitor, this is not a city for great nightlife or tourism. If you feel like taking a break from all the international seriousness, there’s the Mauritshaus, which has works by Vermeer, Rembrandt and other significant Dutch painters or to the Gemeentemuseum for the world’s largest collection of paintings by Dutchman Piet Mondrian. For music, the Paard van Troje hosts significant international bands and musicians as well as a rich program of local performers. Or head to the beach at Scheveningen on the North Sea, the Netherlands’s most popular beach.