The Hague (hāg), Du. 's Gravenhage or Den Haag, Fr. La Haye, city (1994 pop. 445,279), administrative and governmental seat of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, capital of South Holland prov., W Netherlands, on the North Sea.
Although it has some industries (the manufacture of clothing, metal goods, printed materials, and food products), The Hague's economy revolves around government administration, which is centered there rather than in Amsterdam, the constitutional capital of the Netherlands. The Hague is the seat of the Dutch legislature, the Dutch supreme court, the International Court of Justice, and foreign embassies. The city is the headquarters of numerous companies, including the Royal Dutch Shell petroleum company. Also of economic importance are banking, insurance, and trade.
Points of Interest
Among the numerous landmarks of The Hague is the Binnenhof, which grew out of the 13th-century palace and houses both chambers of the legislature; the Binnenhof contains the 13th-century Hall of Knights (Dutch Ridderzaal), where many historic meetings have been held. Nearby is the Gevangenenpoort, the 14th-century prison where Jan de Witt and Cornelius de Witt were murdered in 1672. The Mauritshuis, a 17th-century structure built as a private residence for John Maurice of Nassau, is an art museum and contains several of the greatest works of Rembrandt and Vermeer.
The Peace Palace (Dutch Vredespaleis), which was financed by Andrew Carnegie and opened in 1913, houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration and, since 1945, the International Court of Justice. Among the other notable buildings are the former royal palace; the Groote Kerk, a Gothic church (15th–16th cent.); the Nieuwe Kerk, containing Spinoza's tomb; the 16th-century town hall; and the Netherlands Conference Center (1969). Educational institutions in The Hague include schools of music and international law. Northwest of the city is Scheveningen, a popular North Sea resort and a fishing port.
The Hague was (13th cent.) the site of a hunting lodge of the counts of Holland ('s Gravenhage means "the count's hedge" ). William, count of Holland, began (c.1250) the construction of a palace, around which a town grew in the 14th and 15th cent. In 1586 the States-General of the United Provs. of the Netherlands convened in The Hague, which later (17th cent.) became the residence of the stadtholders and the capital of the Dutch republic. In the 17th cent., The Hague rose to be one of the chief diplomatic and intellectual centers of Europe. William III (William of Orange), stadtholder of Holland and other Dutch provinces as well as king of England (1689–1702), was born in The Hague.
In the early 19th cent., after Amsterdam had become the constitutional capital of the Netherlands, The Hague received its own charter from Louis Bonaparte. It was (1815–30) the alternative meeting place, with Brussels, of the legislature of the United Netherlands. The Dutch royal residence from 1815 to 1948, the city was greatly expanded and beautified in the mid-19th cent. by King William II. In 1899 the First Hague Conference met there on the initiative of Nicholas II of Russia; ever since, The Hague has been a center for the promotion of international justice and arbitration.