Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Hague, Madurodam and Royal Delft

The Hague
One of the most known cities in the Netherlands is the city of The Hague (in dutch Den Haag). It is the seat of the dutch government, parliament and royal court, as well as the place where Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands lives. It is well known internationally for being the city that hosts the International Court of Justice, in the famous building know as Peace Palace (Vredespaleis). Here you can also find all the embassies in the Netherlands (even though Amsterdam is the capital).
For me I have to admit, it was a very impressive and lively town, but quite chaotic. Arriving at the central station, and looking at the map of the town, I was at a loss to decide where the city center was or even where the city actually stretched. That is because the "Den Haag Centraal" train station is quite far from the city center and also the city of Hague is part of a bigger metropolitan complex.
The Hall of Knights

After managing to find the city center, you find yourself surrounded with numerous great traditional buildings. The Mauritshuis, the famous art museum, The magnificent Binnenhof, the 13th-century hunting lodge of the counts of Holland, housing the First and Second Chambers of the Staaten-Generaal (the dutch parliament and senate if I'm not mistaken), and in the middle of its courtyard one cannot miss the Hall of the Knights, the gothic-style building with its two towers and the gold colored water-fountain. (I thought it was a church at first.. hahaha!).
Hofvijver and the buildings of the Dutch parliament

After a walk around the Hofvijver, the pond of the Bunnenhof and walking around the city, we rode the tram to one of the most famous attractions of the Netherlands, Madurodam!

A freighter ship on fire while the Rotterdam Port goes to the rescue
The miniature city of Madurodam was first opened in the Scheveningen district of The Hague in 1952, and was named after George Maduro, a law student from Curaçao who fought the Nazi occupation forces as a member of the Dutch resistance and died at Dachau concentration camp.
The entrance fee was 14 euros, but it was worth it! All the major and famous buildings of the Netherlands, old or modern, in one place! I wouldn't know which one to mention first!
Yes! Its a miniature!

Cathedrals, farmhouses, castles, windmills, actual parts of cities (like the Dam square and the old district of Amsterdam), famous stores or whole neighborhoods! Watching a big ship catching fire while a "Rotterdam Port" fire brigate boat goes to the rescue, trains of all kinds going all around the place, the famous and vital bridge and dam system of the rivers and canals of the Netherlands in action, planes landing (not taking off!) in Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, parades around churches, live concerts and all of that in great detail and miniature size!
Utrecht and its Dom Tower
Dutch tulip field miniature

There was also a place where with one euro you could experience a factory-to-consumer experience of a souvenir falling in a truck from a factory then driving to you! I think it was supposed to be for children but many older people also used it for fun.
Amsterdam's Dam Square.. Mini edition!

Right outside Madurodam, there were signs for many of the major capitals of the world. Hmmm, 2166 km away from Athens!

Delft Town Hall
Just twenty minutes by train from The Hague (halfway to Rotterdam) you can find yourself in Delft, the town mostly known for the famous dutch blue-colored porcelain and its technical university. The town is also known for being a typical dutch town with canals, for the painter Vermeer and is greatly associated with the royal dutch House of Orange-Nassau.
Royal Delft Porcelain
Again the train station here is a mess because of constructions but on the way to the center you can enjoy a typical dutch town. Canals, bridges, traditional houses and churches. We enjoyed some Italian food (my argument about trying some of the local dishes fell on deaf ears) and then some ice-cream at the Nieuwe Kerk square, where also the City Hall of Delft is. Then going around the town for the rest of the major sights, like the Oude Kerk (is it bending or is it just my imagination?) and the Beestenmarkt.
Delft Nieuwe Kerk

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