The Hague is the place I’ve called home for the last 28 years. Born and raised in this comparatively small Dutch city, I couldn’t imagine myself living in any other city in The Netherlands. Even though I always felt that migration is a very plausible option for me later in life, it was always either another country, or The Hague.
Still, there is one very fundamental flaw about living in The Hague, and that is that this city is my comfort zone, my safe harbor. A place were my ship is safe. But we all know ships aren’t made to stay in harbor, they’re supposed to be out on sea, braving the ocean.
I will always love this city and it will be a part of me, for it helped shape me who I am, therefore I thought it would be nice to tell a little bit about it.
The Hague is one of the four major cities in The Netherlands. It’s the capital of the province of South-Holland and the Residence of both the King and Parliament. Technically the king now lives in Wassenaar, but as soon as they finished the multi-million restorations to his palace, he’ll move to The Hague.
Basically, The Hague might not be the capital of The Netherlands, but it’s the place were it all happens. The city’s motto is; “Vrede en Recht” which is Dutch for “Peace and Justice”. A lot of embassies are found in The Hague, as well as the International Criminal Court, The Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia, International Court of Justice, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Europol, and OPCW, to name a few. Apparently it’s the UN’s fourth major city after New York, Geneva, and Vienna. I just found this out looking up what the thing for Rwanda was called exactly.
As a resident of The Hague, you hardly ever notice any of this
Parliament resides on and around the Binnenhof, which is basically an inner-city castle/fortress build primarily in the 13th century. Looking up this piece of information taught me that it’s the oldest House of Parliament in the world still in use. Even now, as I’m about to move to the other side of the world, I still learn stuff about this city!
Now all this stuff is readily available on the internet, so I’m not going to bore you too much with it. What I think is more interesting is my personal look on what living in The Hague is like. As a resident of The Hague, you hardly ever notice any of this. What I do notice is that my pizza is taking an hour to get delivered already, so much for the Justice. You also have an occasional police convoy screaming past with some dignitaries, so much for the Peace. On general, The Hague feels like a small, compact city, but doesn’t feel as cramped as some other old dutch cities. I consider the people living here to be honest but extremely direct, harsh but fair, and fun. Cities in The Netherlands have very strong identities, and there are noticeable differences between people living in a different city only 20 minutes driving apart. The first thing you’ll notice is the different accent.
Growing up in The Hague, I didn’t think it was anything special, but as you grow older you start noticing the many trees and big stretches of pure nature surrounding the city. In that respect it does feel like a special place, were you can switch from a middle-of-nowhere-feeling to being right in the middle of a modern international city in a matter of 5-10 minutes.
As a tourist it would be worth your while to visit The Hague, but it would be even better to move there if you’re thinking about moving to the Netherlands. To be fair, I’m obviously pretty biased.