Golden Age The Hague: art & power
Trace the Golden Age in The Hague
To experience Golden Age The Hague, delve into its art and architecture by exploring the city’s splendid boulevards and palaces, and by visiting the Mauritshuis, which houses a remarkable collection of paintings by the Dutch Masters. In the The Hague Historical Museum and at places of interest such as the Prince William V Gallery and the Prison Gate Museum, you can learn even more about the city’s fascinating history.
The Hague: a center of power
During the Golden Age, The Hague was where Holland’s power was concentrated. It was the political and diplomatic center of the country and the seat of the House of Orange – members of which held positions of power as Stadtholders in the Dutch Republic. The Binnenhof, today’s House of Parliament, is the world’s oldest center of government.
This status made The Hague attractive, as well as industrious. Luxury goods were manufactured for the many diplomats and prominent citizens. The weapons industry, publishers, book dealers and breweries were other industries that were thriving. By 1670, the city’s population had risen to 24,000; by 1700, it was already 30,000. New quarters were built and new harbors dug; palaces and stately homes rose up along the Lange Voorhout, the city’s most magnificent boulevard.
Art in The Hague
Among all the wealth and industry of the Golden Age, the arts were thriving. Painters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer revolutionized painting in both style and subject matter. The remarkable collection of the Mauritshuis museum includes several of these artists’ most famous works, such as Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and Rembrandt’s ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp’. The building is itself a 17th-century marvel, with silk wall hangings and glittering chandeliers forming a fittingly majestic background for the art of the Dutch Masters. Visits to Leiden, birthplace of Rembrandt, and Delft, birthplace and home of Vermeer, are also recommended for those interested in learning more about the lives of the two famous painters – both are nearby and make an excellent day trip from The Hague.
History, royalty and architecture
The Hague’s rich and remarkable history is documented in the The Hague Historical Museum, which includes Jan van Goyen’s impressive ‘View of The Hague’ and paintings of The Hague cityscapes by Jan Steen and other Dutch Masters. Another side of the city’s history can be seen at the Prison Gate Museum, with stories of political conspiracies, revolts, punishment of prisoners and life in the cells of the Prison Gate. To gain repose from the gruesome details, a stroll along the splendor of the Lange Voorhout is recommended. The L-shaped boulevard is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful walking routes and in the Golden Age, it became a meeting point for The Hague’s beau monde. It’s also now a part of the Royal Walking Tour, which takes in sights signifying the close connection of The Hague with the Dutch Royal Family. Another important point of interest regarding royalty is the Huis ten Bosch Palace, commissioned in 1645 by Prince Frederick Henry (Frederik Hendrik in Dutch) as a summer residence for himself and his wife, Princess Amalia. Until 2014 this was the residence of Princess Beatrix. The palace is not open to the public but can be seen from the Bezuidenhoutseweg road or the Haagse Bos forest.
For an easy adventure that’s also steeped in Golden Age grandeur, head to either of The Hague’s two major train stations and pick a direction. If you choose north, you’ll be in the city of Leiden within 10 to 15 minutes. If you choose south, the beautiful city of Delft awaits in the same amount of time. In both cities, serene canals, historic houses and fascinating museums await, whether you fancy 17th-century art or learning more about Delft Blue pottery.