Ooievaart Canal Tour Offers Rich and Unique History of The Hague

Amsterdam isn’t the only city with canals. Find out more about the rich and fascinating history of The Hague during the Ooievaart Canal Tour.

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Zieke canal
Canal Tours are not just limited to Amsterdam. Since 2003 the Ooievaart Canal Tour has offered a unique glimpse into the 400+ years of hidden history along the canals of The Hague.  It reveals little gems such as the home of Dutch painter Jan Steen, the location of the smallest church in The Hague, the residence of author and native son Louis Couperus, famous Dutch dancer turned WWI spy Mata Hari’s residence, and the beautiful holiday mansions for Dutch/Indonesian merchants on the Mauritskade. The Ooievaart Tour also provides a wealth of information on the former uses of the canals, their original role in the security of the city, the trade routes and the goods The Hague exported, and interesting landmarks for the city that flourished near the water’s edge.

The tour guide is very knowledgeable and the tour is conducted in Dutch; however, you can request a guidebook in the language of your choice when you arrive at the boat.  The English guidebook was filled with interesting information and offered a map to all 21 points of interest. The tour is an hour and a half and was a great way to introduce the city to new visitors and residents alike.

Of note: The boats are uncovered, but with good reason – during its development The Hague did not create bridges over the canals, but rather built roads directly across the water. This makes some of the tour more interactive – be prepared to duck quite a bit!

Highlights from the tour can be found on Flickr. For more information on the Ooievaart Canal Tours, please visit their website: www.ooievaart.nl

A tree-lined avenue called Lange Voorhout

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The Lange Voorhout has always been a favorite haunt in The Hague.  Walking along its tree-lined avenue on early weekend mornings, while everything else is asleep and quiet, is the ultimate food for the soul.

There is a charming quality to its surroundings.  The hundred year old buildings flanking its sides are now homes to various embassies, residences and various offices.   The summer and autumn months lend its gravel walkways to various exhibits of great works from artists all over the world.  The Escher Museum awaits at the end where one can unravel the Dutch artist’s mysteries on optical illusions.

Currently, the larger than life bronze sculpture works of Valencia-born Manolo Valdes are showcased in an open air exhibition until the 12th of September.

And when those feet are tired, the Lounge Bar of the Hotel des Indes is a perfect place for coffee or high tea… or the cafes along the Denneweg serve as perfect venues for that much yearned for cup of coffee or refreshing cocktail.

The Hague in the summertime

A midsummer's evening, The Hague

One of the best kept secrets is that the summer is one of the best times to discover The Hague. There is still a lot to do and see even though most of it’s residents have gone to more exotic places.

If you are brave enough get to know The Hague on a bike, the streets are a lot quieter and you can see a lot more than on public transport or car. Please be careful of the tram lines, I am confident in saying that everybody at some point makes the mistake to bike too close to them. Throughout The Hague there are extensive bike paths. The city centre is now almost completely car free, so even more reason to get on a bike and find places that you would otherwise not see.

As luck would have it the temperate this year is fabulous for sun lovers. No need to escape to sunnier spots south of the border when we even have our own beaches! Scheveningen is one of the most popular beaches of the Netherlands. Whether you are young or old there is something for everybody. Along the beach on the boulevard there is a wide range of fast food, restaurants and entertainment.

While I am off on vacation tomorrow I am curious to read what your favourite spots, events and happenings are in The Hague during the summer.