Discover Benelux | The Hague | Best Places to See
A ProDemos tour of the Binnenhof, the Dutch centre of politics, is an excellent choice for visitors who would like to try something totally different.
Peeking into the heart of Dutch democracy TEXT: MIRJAM VAN BIEMEN | PHOTOS: BOB KARHOF& BART VAN VLIET
Up for something new? Visit the Binnenhof in The Hague. This vast square has been the heart of politics in the Netherlands for centuries. ProDemos, House for Democracy and the Rule of Law organises guided tours through the different buildings on the Binnenhof, providing you with all the knowledge you will need about how the Dutch run their small country. Managing director Eddy Habben Jansen explains why this is a fun excursion: “The Hague is the governmental city of the Netherlands. For 800 years now, we have had our civic centre on the same spot. It’s a very historical place because these buildings have been in use since the 13th century.” The main attraction is the medieval Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) where King Willem-Alexander declaims his speech 52 | Issue 25 | January 2016
every year at ‘Prinsjesdag’, a royal ceremony in September. According to Habben Jansen this is the most inspiring place for all visitors. “You might think it’s a church, but the basement houses a small museum with different exhibitions. We even have a small copy of the golden coach, used during Prinsjesdag.” A full tour takes visitors into the Ridderzaal, the Dutch Senate and the House of Representatives (Lower House). When visiting the Lower House on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, you can watch the parliament at work from the public gallery. Habben Jansen: “These tours are different from visiting a museum. You will visit an open parliament in operation and our passionate tour guides will teach you everything about democracy. I am sure this knowledge will stay with you longer
than when you read a book about this topic. And who knows, since the politicians are walking freely from one building to the other, you might have an encounter with the Prime Minister as well.” The guided tours are provided for all types of audiences; individuals, children and groups, and are all equally engaging. Private tours are possible as well. ProDemos often co-operates with the different embassies and international organisations situated in The Hague. Habben Jansen: “I have noticed that foreign people are really impressed with the way we run our country. Especially when the system in their own country is organised differently. What surprises them most is that we have so many different political parties and that we need a coalition to form a government.” www.prodemos.nl
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.