Top Historic Sights in Hague, Netherlands

Explore the historic highlights of Hague

Binnenhof

The Binnenhof is a complex of buildings in the city centre of The Hague, next to the Hofvijver lake. It houses the meeting place of both houses of the States General of the Netherlands, as well as the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Little is known about the origin of the Binnenhof. Presumably, the grounds next to the Hofvijver lake, and the small homestead on it, were ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Mauritshuis

The Mauritshuis museum houses the Royal Cabinet of Paintings which consists of 841 objects, primarily Dutch Golden Age paintings. The collections contains works by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Paulus Potter, Frans Hals, Hans Holbein the Younger, and others. Probably the most famous painting in Mauritshuis is The Girl with a Pearl Earring (ca. 1665), one of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer"s masterwo ...
Founded: 1822 | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Gevangenpoort

The Gevangenpoort (Prisoner"s Gate) is a former gate and medieval prison on the Buitenhof. From 1420 until 1828, the prison was used for housing people who had committed serious crimes while they awaited sentencing. Its most famous prisoner was Cornelis de Witt, who was held on the charge of plotting the murder of the stadtholder. He was lynched together with his brother Johan on 20 August 1672 on the square in fron ...
Founded: 1420 | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Nieuwe Kerk

The Nieuwe Kerk was built in 1649 after the Great Church had become too small. Construction was completed in 1656. The church was designed by the architect Peter Noorwits, who was assisted by the painter and architect Bartholomeus van Bassen. The church is considered a highlight of the early Protestant church architecture in the Netherlands. Like many churches of that time was the New Church, a central building. Unlike ot ...
Founded: 1649-1656 | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk

The Groote Kerk of St. James (15th and 16th centuries) has a fine vaulted interior, and contains some old stained glass, a carved wooden pulpit (1550), a large organ and interesting sepulchral monuments, and some escutcheons of the knights of the Golden Fleece, placed here after the chapter of 1456. It is remarkable for its fine tower and chime of bells, and contains the cenotaph monument of Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam, de ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Kneuterdijk Palace

Kneuterdijk Palace was once a Royal Palace of the Kings of the Netherlands. Built in 1716 in the Louis XIV style by architect Daniel Marot, it was commissioned by Count Johan Hendrik of Wassenaer-Obdam, member of the House of Wassenaer. The palace served as a residence for King William II of the Netherlands and his wife Queen Anna Paulowna in the first half of the 19th century, when he was still the crown prince. ...
Founded: 1716 | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Kloosterkerk

The Kloosterkerk (or Cloister Church) was originally a monastery first built for the Dominicans in The Hague in 1397. A thriving new center of arts was established in The Hague by the Court of Albrecht of Bavaria (1336–1404) and his second wife Margaret of Cleves. Some known artistic products to have been produced in this period are an important illuminated manuscript, the Hours of Margaret of Cleves commissioned be ...
Founded: 1397 | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Noordeinde Palace

The Noordeinde palace originated as a medieval farmhouse, which was converted into a spacious residence by the steward of the States of Holland, Willem van de Goudt in 1533. The original farmhouse's cellars can still be seen in the palace basement. From 1566 to 1591, the palace had a different owner. After that it was leased, and in 1595, purchased by the States of Holland for Louise de Coligny, the widow of William of O ...
Founded: 1533 | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Peace Palace

The Peace Palace (Vredespaleis) is an administrative building and often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice (which is the principal judicial body of the United Nations), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library. In addition to hosting these institutions, the Palace is also a regular venue for spe ...
Founded: 1913 | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Huis ten Bosch

Huis ten Bosch ('House in the Woods') is a royal palace and one of three official residences of the Dutch Royal Family. Construction of Huis ten Bosch began in 1645, under the direction of Bartholomeus Drijffhout, and to a design by Pieter Post and Jacob van Campen. It was commissioned by Amalia von Solms, the wife of stadtholder Frederick Henry, on a parcel of land granted to her by the States General. The first stone wa ...
Founded: 1645 | Location: Hague, Netherlands

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.