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The Hague…..Although the Netherlands is a tiny country, even by European standards, it is often visited by tourists. People visit Amsterdam and often not much more and that is quite a pity.

HAGUE5The Netherlands’ countryside is pretty, especially during the spring, when everything is so green and the fields are full of HAGUE4multicolored tulips. Sometimes it is hard to find the countryside. In many places Holland looks like a never ending suburban area. It is hard to say where one city ends and where another starts. But what is also important, is that the Netherlands has more cities than just Amsterdam!

The Hague is Holland’s third largest city, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam. It looks totally different than the Dutch capital. There is no network of canals here, in fact the city has only few of them. The Hague looks a bit like my Warsaw, maybe just without the Palace of Culture and Science. There are many similarities between these two. This Dutch city was damaged during World War II and rebuilt after  1945. The Hague is a combination of historic buildings with post-war buildings, built fast, affordable and simple. They are mostly dull blocks of flats built for the middle class. Then there are the modern skyscrapers that show that The Hague is changing and evolving. The Hague is the Dutch version of my Polish capital city,  just six times smaller.

The way to The Hague from Amsterdam doesn’t take long, however requires a train change at the Gouda’s train station. It was raining when I left the train that brought me to my destination from Gouda. I went to grab fast breakfast hoping the sky would have mercy on me; and it did. When I finished my breakfast (and you need to know I eat very fast) it wasn’t raining anymore. The first buildings I saw in the city were skyscrapers. Very familiar and well known to me. Almost Warsaw’s skyscrapers, just a bit shorter; but still the same shiny.

Avoiding puddles I walked to the historic part of the city. The sun was shining brightly and the sky was so blue. The marks of rain were gone very fast. I was lucky with the weather in the Netherlands. I joked to my friend who hosted me in Holland that I brought the sun with me from Poland, but I wouldn’t leave it in Holland for longer. Together with my departure home, the sun disappeared from the Dutch land. My friend told me that it was the sunniest weekend in the Netherlands this yes so far. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

Following my rule „start exploring a destination from a place where it started” I arrived at the Binnenhof and spent some time exploring its grounds. The center of politics in the Netherlands and the heart of Dutch democracy has a long history.

HAGUE2The grounds on which the Binnenhof now stands were purchased by Count Floris IV of Holland in 1229. He built his HAGUE1mansion, next to the modest lake that has been called Hofvijver or Court Pond. The Binnenhof has been the location of meetings of the Dutch parliament, the Staten-Generaal, since 1446. The Binnenhof and the Ridderzaal are  a must-see if you’re in The Hague. The courtyard has a fairytale splendour and the area around the pond is a really nice place to take a walk. The Binnenhof royal flags wave next to the Hofvijver Lake. My favourite flag was the one representing Friesland. The hearts on it don’t look too serious, but make the flag super cute!

In the complex there are also smaller buildings of the Mauritshuis and the Little Tower, which is the Office of the Prime Minister.  There are also some statues  and a gold neo-gothic fountain that adorns the main square. The fountain wasn’t working when I was there. Well, maybe it was too early for fountains to be turned on; or maybe it was broken.

I must say that the best panoramic view of The Hague’s skyline is from the spot called the heart of the city. From here one has an amazing view at numerous buildings from different centuries and it is quite an awesome combination.

In some aspects The Hague appears to my eyes even more beautiful than Amsterdam. But it is hard to say if it really is. They are two different looking cities. They are like white wine and red wine. Which wine is better? Which city is better? I hate to choose, so I choose not to choose. The reason why The Hague may seem closer to my heart is possibly because it looks closer to what I know the best and love the most … to my home.