Not far from the Peace Palace you can find a lady sitting on a bench, watching the world go by. And not just any lady, but Anna Pavlovna of Russia, Queen Consort to the Netherlands back in the 18th century. She married Willam the II in 1816 and had five children. If you read the Wikipedia page you’ll notice how odd it is to have a statue here – apparently she wasn’t a fan of the Netherlands and preferred instead to be in what is now Belgium (or better yet, Russia). But okay, the statue itself is still very beautiful.
A bit further along the path you come across the Peace Palace. I had a bit of luck that day in terms of weather – no grey skies that day. (Unlike today!)
Yesterday I had the day off so I went for a walk. The weather has been great for the Easter holiday: 70-75F with a ton of sun. One of the places I walked through is the Binnenhof, a place mentioned a lot on this blog. I like going there and watching the tourists, actually. It’s weird to live somewhere that tourists visit. So I go there and watch the families and friends excitedly taking photos of this and that…
Here is my photo, with the beautiful blue sky behind.
As mentioned in my last blog post, Marco and I spent our 5th anniversary in Breda. One of the places we visited was the Grote Kerk (Church of Our Lady) which was built between 1410 (!) and 1547. The church serves as a mausoleum for the first generations of the Nassau family (a total of 17 family members being buried there). After the Spanish invaded Breda, the Nassau family began to use the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in Delft instead.
Here are some of the photos which I took of this magnificent church:
close up of prayer candles in a secluded part of the church
If you are looking for something to do in The Hague this summer, check out the sand sculptures at the Lange Voorhout. The World Championship Sand Sculpting 2018 is going on at the moment, with judging happening tomorrow. After that, the sculptures can be seen until 19 August! It will also be lighted at night, making it easy to visit at any moment.
The competition is held every three years. This year the Netherlands is the host country, with Japan, Singapore, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic competing. The theme is ‘200 years of sea, sand and …’ which also highlights Scheveningen’s Feest aan zeecelebration.
Here’s a peek at how the sculptures look so far. First a look at the sculpture from the Netherlands (as the host country, they cannot enter the judging):
200 years ago: The wife looks back at the past longingly, while the husband looks forward to the future and what Scheveningen can be
Continuing my Den Bosch post from last week, here are some more pictures. First of a dragon statue on the way from the main train station to the downtown area:
The money for this statue apparently came from a grieving father who donated money in 1881 for a memorial for his 17-year-old twin daughters.
The father did not specify a dragon as the memorial, though. One theory for why it was a dragon was that it was a reference to the king’s commissioner Jhr. Mr. P.J. Bosch van Drakestein who lived around that time (“Drake” is a type of dragon). The dragon is holding his family’s crest, so this seems most likely:
Another theory is that the city of Den Bosch is built around a swamp, and was considered a swamp fortress. The dragon is named the “swamp dragon” in honor of the city.
For my birthday last week Marco and I visited Den Bosch. The official name of the city is ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Duke’s forest) but it is almost always shortened to Den Bosch (The forest). The first day we walked around the city using a walking guide from the local VVV office (tourism office).
One of the main attractions of the city is St. John’s church, which shows off the height of Gothic architecture in the Netherlands
Also some curious art can be seen:
De Halve Peer (The Half Pear)
The half-a-statue above came from a dispute – two parties were tasked with creating this memorial / remembrance piece, but only one invested the money. And here is the result – half a statue!
I also took a picture of this lovely farmers plaque on the side of a brick house:
Near the Passage there is a small alleyway called Achterom which translates to “Around the back”. It refers to the fact that this small alleyway was once the alternative entrance to the Buitenhof. The street followed The Haagse Beek (a creek or brook) and the walls of the Buitenhof.
Achterom – cutting through the Passage.
The alleyway first winds right
…and then left. In the distance is the corner of Achterom and Kettingstraat (“Necklace street”) where the Ball Gown artwork can be found
Map of how Acterom (here the white line) crosses De Passage. The red star marks the corner where the Ball Gown can 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!