If you take the stairs underground near the entrance to the C&A department store on the Grote Marktstraat, you’ll find a Jewish monument:
The text reads:
Ik werd voor hen tot een klein Heiligdom in de landen waarheen ze gekomen waren which translates (roughly) to I was a bit of sanctuary for those who come to this land.
translated as “From 1723 to 1844 there was a synagogue for the Dutch Israeli community of here”
In 1844 the synagogue moved to the nearby Wagenstraat (now the heart of Chinatown). After World War II – from which most deported Jews did not return – the synagogue was closed in 1975. Around the same time the Muslim Turkish community’s numbers began to rise and in 1978 they asked the city for use of the space to turn it into a mosque.
This request was denied, but a group of Turkish Muslims took over the building by ‘squatting’ it. After three years the city granted their request to use it as a mosque. It now houses 1,500 worshippers. The original name of the mosque was Fatih, after a conquerer, but it was later renamed to Aqsa mosque as a reference to the Grand Mosque in Jerusalem.
Last week Marco and I visited the Grote Markt tram stop for a hidden gem: a 1616 city map recreated in the floor tiles and glass display cases of artifacts uncovered while constructing the tram tunnel.
The Grote Markt and Spui tram stops are found underground in the center of the city and service lines 2, 3, 4 and 6. The tram tunnel was a solution to the overcrowding of trams and cars above ground – once the tunnel was complete, the trams moved underground and cars were banned. These days only pedestrians and bikes are allowed. Of course, various problems caused the tunnel’s opening to be delayed 4 years and the cost was €100 million more than planned, but it did eventually open with much fanfare.
Looking at the area from above (from the bridge which spans both platforms)
If you want to see the recreated city map and the artefacts, visit the Grote Markt tram stop (the entrance is by the statue of Haagse Harry!). Take the stairs underground and you’ll find yourself by a bridge above the platforms. Look left and you’ll see the city map in the ground on the same side you came in on.
A look at the city map – with two HTM controllers walking away (controllers check to make sure you paid for your trip).
The 1616 map is also recreated on the wall, with the area where the tunnel would be built highlighted. During the tunnel’s construction, the surveyors were pleased to see how accurate the 1616 map was for stating where foundations and walls could be found.
The Hague’s Chinatown can be found close to The Hague’s city center:
Google Maps – Chinatown, The Hague. The two busiest streets are Gempte Burgwal and Wagenstraat.
The highlight of this area is the two Chinatown gates:
Chinatown gate by Stille Veerkade. If you are coming from the Holland Spoor train station, you’ll probably take Stationsweg to get to the city center. You would then pass through these gates. Continue through Wagenstraat to reach the heart of the city.
Chinatown gate by Gedempte Burgwal – most would see this gate as it lies close to the Grote Markstraat shopping area
The gates of Chinatown are an interesting subject. If you list to podcasts I definitely recommend 99% Invisible’s podcast episode on Pagodas and Dragon Gates, which talks about Chinatown in San Francisco. Before the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, Chinatown was much like any other part of the city, in terms of its architecture. After the earthquake there was talk of moving Chinatown into a different part of the city and using the prime real estate for something else. At least until Chinese leaders threatened to leave if this happened. So the city decided to keep Chinatown where it was and had the opportunity to rebuild Chinatown in a new style. The gates and pagodas were what the architect envisioned, but though it did not represent how China actually looked. But this image of China was very popular with tourists, and this version of Chinatown spread throughout the US.
The Hague’s Chinatown was previously a Jewish neighbourhood before WWII. After the war, the area remained for the most part vacant as only 2,000 of the 17,000 Jews returned to the city. In the 1970s the city designed to revamp this area into Chinatown, along with the nearby Rabbijn Maarsenplein which also has Japanese, Vietnamese and Indonesian restaurants (I highly recommend Little V).
While the gates are definitely a good photo opportunity, the best time to visit the district is during the Chinese New Year festival (post from 2013). But there are a lot of restaurants and a few souvenir shops on this street even if you aren’t visiting during the festival!
Okay, obviously the post title is a joke! But still, I was able to take some pretty pictures over the weekend of the snow in The Hague.
Considering the level of snow some parts of America get, this is obviously nothing. But still, it’s been about four years since I’ve seen snow in the Netherlands – there was some snow in 2012-2013 when I moved here (and way too much ice) but since then not much. The one time we really got snow, Marco and I were on vacation out of the country.
So yeah – it’s been about 4 years!
Both of these pictures were taken on Saturday. Overnight into Sunday we actually got a bit more snow – about an inch – but it’s all but melted now. But it was fun to see how happy the kids were to play in snow.
A neighborhood police agent was filming with a body camera as he participated in a (playful) snowball fight with kids from the Moerwijk district – see the video of the snowball fight on Omroep West.
Categories: The Hague
Over the weekend I posted about the side of the city hall in The Hague being turned into the largest Mondriaan design in the world. This was to honour the 100th anniversary of the art movement De Stijl.
But the city did not stop there… they also put in colored blocks on the Hofvijver!
Marco and I were remarked that it looked like a video game… just try and jump between them, with rules like ‘blue blocks last 4 seconds’ and ‘yellow blocks last 2 seconds’ before falling into the water. Just to keep you on your toes, of course!
Categories: Culture, The Hague
Marco and I had a few guests over on Monday night so he decided to make key lime pie:
It’s a great treat – not too sugary, and a hint of sourness from the lime and the raspberry smear (as well as the frozen raspberry stick on top). The pie crust is from Kelly’s expat shop.
The city hall of The Hague has been repainted in the colours of Piet Mondriaan! Check out the photo I took this morning:
Pretty cool, right? The artwork is celebrating 100 years of the De Stijl art movement, which was founded in 1917 in Amsterdam. Piet Mondriaan (or ‘Mondrian’ after he dropped one of the a’s in his name) was well-known for his work with primary colors together with the colors black and white.
In the coming weeks other buildings will receive the same treatment, including the nearby Pathé Spui movie theatre, the Bilderberg hotel in Scheveningen and the Hofvijver in the center of the city.
If you are interested in seeing Mondriaan’s art, head over to the Gemeentemuseum (= city museum). With over 300 pieces, they have the largest Mondriaan collection in the world. They were closed today to prepare for the new De Stijl exhibit. They will reopen tomorrow, with tomorrow (only) featuring free entry to see the exhibit. If you have time you should check it out!
Categories: Culture, The Hague
Here’s a look at part of the Valentine’s Day at Xenos (a discount store):
If you need candles or flowers, you’ll definitely in luck…!
I also took a picture of this cute snow globe. Inside you have the iconic Dutch clogs:
Not that we have much snow at the moment. After a week of cold, we have (relatively) warm temperatures, at least through the weekend. And of course, rain…
But we’re past January – it can only get warmer from here! In theory.
Random photo from Saturday, during the Chinese New Year festivities:
On Tuesday night Marco, Roger and I went to the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam to see the punk rock band Green Day perform.
The setlist for the night is available at setlist.fm. They played for at least 2 1/2 hours (they were scheduled for 3, but even 2 1/2 seemed like a decent amount).
guitarist Mike Dirnt graces our corner (he came over frequently)
My favorite song that they played was Are We The Waiting (YouTube). From the new album I only wish they had played Say Goodbye (YouTube again), although they don’t seem to play that one on tour. Oh well – can’t have it all!
Instant wall of heat. It felt nice, since it was so brief…
It was a really good show. I definitely woke up sore in the morning, but it was still worth it.