Binnenhof English Tour – Den Haag
Grandma’s been visiting the grandkids for two weeks, giving me lots of snuggle time with our new little one. I’m sure she loves all the child-friendly fun, but we wanted her to be able to explore Den Haag and learn a little about the Dutch Government.
ProDemos offers a guided tour of several of the buildings in the Binnenhof: the Hall of Knights, Senate and House of Representatives. We gave Grandma some much needed time off to take the tour and enjoy The Hague without the kiddos.
You will need reservations, which can be made online, particularly if you want one of the few English tours offered each week. If you speak Dutch there are many more options.
We sent Grandma on Tram 15 from the Delft area, which lets off right outside the Binnenhof in about 30 minutes. `
You meet the tour guide in the ProDemos office. While you are waiting there is a whole bookshelf of books about The Hague in both English and Dutch to keep you occupied. Grandma’s English tour guide was Omar. He was informative and easy to understand.
You will be walking outside between the buildings so dress for the weather. The tours are not accessible – there are many many stairs on the tour. The tour lasts about an hour and a half.
The first stop is the Hall of Knights, where you head up a circular stair case. This is the throne room where the king delivers the equivalent of the State of the Union once a year. It lasts 15 min and is in the “Dutch style” meaning clean and simple. This is the only part of the tour where you are allowed to take pictures.
Next you are off to see the Senate and House of Representatives (equivalents). In the Netherlands, members of the House are full-time politicians while Senators are part timers. The Senate is concerned with the broad outline of policy leaving the day-to-day business to the House. Omar was happy to answer questions on how the chambers functioned and current political issues in the Netherlands.
The Senate chamber features a richly decorated golden ceiling celebrating the Netherlands’ rich history in trade. There is also a life-sized portrait of King Willem II. There are also many other paintings and tapestries.
The House chamber is stark in comparison. Light wood desks are arranged in a semi-circle facing a main podium. The public gallery is on the second floor and an area for civil-service workers is located in the back of the gallery.
The tour ends, not where it began, but not far from it either. It was easy for Grandma to find her way back to the tram stop and head home.
Although this tour is not a good option with little kids, it is a fantastic way to introduce older kids and adults to the Dutch system of government, while getting to see building interiors that are not otherwise open for viewing.