This is definitely one the best FREE THINGS TO DO in the Netherlands – a visit to the imposing Peace Palace in The Hague! Not the building itself, but the Visitors Center instead.
What is it?
The Peace Palace (Dutch: Vredespaleis) is a law administrative building. It houses the International Court of Justice (a principal judicial body of the United Nations), the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), the Hague Academy of International Law and the Peace Palace Library.
Shortly after The Hague hosted the First World Peace Conference in 1899, the decision was made to build a ‘temple of peace’. The delegates from 26 countries ultimately decided to establish the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), a court to facilitate and resolve international disputes. A suitable building was hence needed to home the PCA.
The American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was approached and he agreed to donate $1.5 million. Carnegie posed one condition that a library be built linking to the Palace. The Carnegie Foundation was set up in 1904 to administer the funds and manage the construction of the Peace Palace.
A world wide architectural competition was launched in search of Peace Palace design. Out of 216 submitted proposals, a French architect Louis Cordonnier (1854-1938) was chosen. The construction began in 1907 on the royal estate Zorgvliet, where former Dutch queen Anna Pavlovna had once resided.
All countries that had taken the initiative for the construction of the Peace Palace were asked to contribute resources such as building materials and artworks for the decoration of the building. There were marbles from Italy, vases from China, Persian rugs from Iran, doors from Belgium, woods from Indonesia and so much more.
This Neo-Renaissance style building was officially opened on 28 August 1913 attended by Queen Wilhelmina and Andrew Carnegie.
A Visitors Centre was added and opened to the public in 2012. It presents a contemporary exhibition about the complete history of the Peace Palace with audio tour in 10 languages. Visitors are encouraged to watch the introductory film on the emergence of the Peace Palace and the juridical institutions based within this imperial building. It is all very impressive.
The tallest tower standing at 80 meters high is adorned with a clock donated by Switzerland. Several committed individuals and organizations made it possible to place a carillon with 48 bells in this tower. This Peace Carillon plays every Tuesday and Thursday from 1300hrs to 1345hrs throughout the year. A little fact that is unbeknown to the public.
Occasionally, guided tours inside the Peace Palace are offered in Dutch and English. It is a 45-minute tour through the Great and Small Hall of Justice, the corridors and the Japanese Room.
New dates are listed for 2017 holiday season. https://www.vredespaleis.nl/visit/guided-tours/?lang=en Tickets are priced at €9.50 for adults and kids under 10 years old are free. I have yet to do this. I can only imagine the exquisite interior behind the grand façade of the Peace Palace.
The Peace Palace is globally known as the temple of peace and justice. It is the icon and symbol of world peace. Take a short detour when you are in The Hague city center. It will be worth your while!
Address: Carnegieplein 2. 2517 KJ Den Haag.
Opening Hours: 18 April to 29 October from Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. Also open on Mondays from 31 July to 14 August. Off season period Tues-Sun 11am-4pm. The Visitors Centre is closed on: 25 and 26 December, New Year’s day and King’s day (27 April).
Getting There: About 13 minutes with public transportation or a good 35 minutes walk from Den Haag central station. https://www.vredespaleis.nl/visit/directions/?lang=en