Feb 14th, 2017, 07:29 PM

Da Heck is Den Haag?

By Elizabeth Nguyen Son
Image Credit: Flickr/Christopher A. Dominic
Don't underestimate this little city

A small yet powerful town, Den Haag (The Hague in English), is the heart of international law and home of the Peace Palace. It is a charming and scenic city, much like the rest of the Netherlands. So why is it so often overlooked as opposed to Rotterdam and Amsterdam? Three students familiar with the Netherlands, particularly Den Haag, gave us their insight on what the answer to that question might be.

Image Credit: Pinterest

Where are you originally from and where do you live now?

Jaime Speijer: "I was born in Utrecht but lived in South Holland on an island called the Kaag. I am now living in Amsterdam."

Arabelle Wertheimer: "My mom is South African and my dad is French but I grew up mostly in Singapore. I have been living in The Hague for a few years now to attend university."

Alexander Aldorf: I'm 21 years old and my dad is from Den Haag and grew up there, my mom lived there for a long time as well but she is from Voorschoten, a small city close by. I now live in Groningen because I'm a student at the University of Groningen."

Image Credit: Flickr/Edwin van Buuringen

How did you discover Den Haag?

Speijer: "My dentist is there, and I go shopping there with my mom."

Wertheimer: "My friend, Eva, lived there and when I was researching universities in the Netherlands, I visited her in Den Haag. I fell in love with the big-littleness of Den Haag because I thought Amsterdam was overrun with tourists, which ruined the city. In other words, the city feels big but you can get anywhere in the city, even from the beach to the city, in twenty minutes max."

Aldorf: "I discovered Den Haag when I was growing up because my grandparents lived there and I'd visit every summer and winter."

Binnenhof, Hofvijver and flag of the Netherlands. Image Credit: Wikimedia/Markus Bernet

Why do you think people choose to go to Rotterdam and Amsterdam rather than Den Haag?

Speijer: "Amsterdam and Rotterdam were, back in the day, the two cities that ran Holland. Rotterdam, because of its deep waters and one of the world's biggest ports, and Amsterdam, because it is the capital also a trading hub. The buildings are unique, especially in Amsterdam. Den Haag is a really underrated city though. It has everything you'd want: amazing shopping, tourist attractions, cool parks, and nice restaurants. Personally, I think it could be as popular as Amsterdam if it also had a Red Light District and a more impressionable nightlife. I think people just don't go there because they simply don't know about the city."

Wertheimer: "I think people choose to go to the bigger cities in the Netherlands because they are just that: big cities. Den Haag is only advertised as the political center, really."

Aldorf: "First off, Rotterdam and Amsterdam are bigger. In Amsterdam, there are a ton of tourist attractions that are more entertaining, whereas tourist attractions in Den Haag are pretty limited and more political than those in Amsterdam. Amsterdam has the cool stigma of being the sex and drug capital of Europe. On the contrary, Den Haag is just 'oh, I think that's where the parliament is...'. Rotterdam is, I guess, quite a financial hub with its port and everything, plus the city is quite new, but to be honest, I never go to Rotterdam. I think it's a pretty ugly city."

Image Credit: Flickr/Christopher A. Dominic

What are your favorite things about Den Haag that differ from Amsterdam and Rotterdam?

Speijer: "My whole family visits Den Haag a lot more often than both Rotterdam and Amsterdam because we know about it. I like it more sometimes because it's not super busy and loud, so it's easy to just relax. You can also walk around without constantly having to look left and right to avoid getting hit by a cyclist as you usually do in Amsterdam."

Wertheimer: "You're not anonymous. In big cities, you can go days without a stranger smiling at you. After a few months in Den Haag, you'll begin to see the same strangers everywhere and you smile at each other. It's very easy to get into a good routine in Den Haag because there's not always something exciting to do. It's also a very international place - it's cute."

Aldorf: "I like how Den Haag isn't very touristic, but still incredibly international. The city officials have done a great job at maintaining its old beauty while also becoming a modern city."

Image Credit: Flickr/ Christopher A. Dominic