Ah, The Hague. The international city of peace and justice, the home of many international institutions and, of course, the seat of the Dutch government. Already falling asleep? Us too. Here are seven things about The Hague that you (probably) don’t know!
Nobody knows if it’s a university city by now or not
According to Leiden University, The Hague is The Netherlands’ fastest growing student city. Before the arrival of Leiden’s The Hague campus in 2010, The Hague was home to The Hague University of Applied Sciences (Haagse Hogeschool). Each year, more and more students arrive in The Hague– particularly from outside the Netherlands. There are downsides to this, of course: housing is pretty difficult to find, especially in August and September. But students are bringing life into The Hague, which traditionally has been a suits-and-skyscrapers city.
It’s got some awesome vintage stores
Possibly as a result of fashionable-but-poor students arriving in the city, The Hague has quite a selection of vintage and secondhand clothing stores. With clothes hailing from the forties til the nineties, it’ll fulfil all your vintage dreams, with the added advantage of reducing demand for new clothes. Plus, there’s no better way to explore the city than to wander from shop to shop. Some stores will even have furniture, second hand books, or records for you to peruse.
The Hague is tackling food waste in a big way
Food waste is a huge issue in terms of the environment. 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated in Europe each year. The citizens of The Hague are finding really cool ways to deal with this. Instock is a restaurant near the iconic Hofvijver that uses up the food Albert Heijn throws out at the end of the day (even though it might still be usable, supermarkets have to throw out food that is past its sell-by date at the end of each day). Then there’s the Conscious Kitchen, which makes delicious vegan dinners each Thursday (and some Sundays) from leftover veggies from the Hague Market. Lekkernassuh (Hagenees for ‘yummy food’) allows you to order a box of veggies from local providers each week, and they only order the amount people request in advance.
Scheveningen is neither the only nor the best beach in The Hague
Everyone has heard of Scheveningen: which is fair enough, it’s a super cute town right by the sea. But there are two other equally gorgeous beaches in The Hague- and in my opinion, both are slightly better than Scheveningen for a couple of reasons. Zuiderstrand is breathtakingly beautiful: as you cycle up to it, you pass the dunes that are covered in wild roses in summer. It’s also emptier than Scheveningen, even on the hottest days of the year. Then there’s Kijkduin- much smaller than Scheveningen, but with an awesome selection of shops and restaurants lining its shore. And, as the name would suggest, it’s surrounded by gorgeous dunes.
It has a lot of amazing street art
When you come out of Centraal Station, street art is probably the least likely thing you’d expect this city to be good at. In the centre, The Hague is perfectly manicured, buttoned up and well-tamed by the municipality. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t amazing murals in other parts of the city to enjoy. Thanks to investments by Aight, a not-for-profit that aims to work with students and young people in The Hague to improve social cohesion, there has been a huge increase in street art in recent years. You can check out their street art tour through Segbroek, one of my favourite neighbourhoods in The Hague.
The Hague forest was used as a rocket launching area during WWII
During World War II, the Germans used the Haagse Bos (or the Hague forest) as a rocket launching area for their V1 and V2 rockets. The Allies tried to bomb it during the war, but accidentally hit the nearby Bezuidenhout district. The bos has an interesting history in other ways too: its name actually gave rise to the word Holland. It was originally called Die Hout, which changed to Houtland, which, as you can see, could and did easily become Holland. The forest also closely escaped being completely cut down in the nineteenth century during the French Occupation.
You can see The Hague live up to its reputation as the centre of peace and justice
We all know the Hague is known as the international centre of peace and justice, but did you know you can watch hearings in both the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC)? Both are open to the public almost all of the time, unless a judge in a case orders a closed hearing. The best part? You don’t need to register at all! You can just arrive at the hearing of your choosing, and if you’re there early enough, you’ll get a spot (it’s first come, first served).
Featured Image: Steven Lek/Wikimedia Commons.