ABOUT THE HAGUE
City life concentrates around the Hofvijver and the Binnenhof, where the Parliament is located. Because of its history, the historical inner city of The Hague differs in various respects from the nearby smaller cities of Leiden and Delft. It does not have a cramped inner city, bordered by canals and walls. Instead it has some small streets in the town centre that may be dated from the late Middle Ages, and several spacious streets boasting large and luxurious 18th-century residences built for diplomats and affluent Dutch families. It has a large church dating from the 15th century, an impressive City Hall (built as such) from the 16th century, several large 17th-century palaces, a 17th-century Protestant church built in what was then a modern style, and many important 18th-century buildings.
The city is becoming more student friendly with the introduction of a new campus in 2012 of Leiden University as well as Leiden University College The Hague, which was established in 2010. The Royal Conservatory of The Hague and The Royal Academy of Art are also located there, as well as The Hague University, a vocational university and a branch of The Open University of the Netherlands. The city has many civil servants and diplomats. In fact, the number and variety of foreign residents (especially the expatriates) make the city quite culturally diverse, with many foreign pubs, shops and cultural events.
The Hague is the largest Dutch city on the North Sea and includes two distinct beach resorts. The main beach resort Scheveningen, in the northwestern part of the city, is a popular destination for tourists as well as for inhabitants. With 10 million visitors a year, it is the most popular beach town in the Benelux area. Kijkduin, in the southwest, is The Hague's other beach resort. It is significantly smaller and attracts mainly local residents.
The former Dutch colony of the East Indies, now Indonesia, has left its mark on The Hague. Since the 19th century, high level civil servants from the Dutch East Indies often spent long term leave and vacation in The Hague. Many streets are named after places in the Netherlands East Indies (as well as other former Dutch colonies such as Suriname) and there is a sizable "Indo" (i.e. mixed Dutch-Indonesian) community. Since the loss of these Dutch possessions in December 1949, "Indo people" also known as "Indische people" often refer to The Hague as "the Widow of the Indies".
The older parts of the town have many characteristically wide and long streets. Houses are generally low-rise (often not more than three floors). A large part of the southwestern city was planned by the progressive Dutch architect H.P. Berlage about 1910. This 'Plan Berlage' decided the spacious and homely streets for several decades. In World War II a large amount of the western portion of The Hague was destroyed by the Germans. Afterwards, modernist architect W.M. Dudok planned its renewal, putting apartment blocks for the middle class in open, park-like settings.
The layout of the city is more spacious than other Dutch cities, and because of the incorporation of large and old nobility estates, the creation of various parks and the use of green zones around natural streams, it is a much more green city than any other in the Netherlands. That is, excepting some medieval close-knitted streets in the centre. There are only a few canals in The Hague, as most of these were drained in the late 19th century.
The tallest buildings of The Hague are the both 146-metre-tall ministries of Security and Justice and the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands. Other significant skyscrapers include the Hoftoren, New Babylon, Het Strijkijzer and De Kroon.