Planning visits to the Dutch cities of Leiden and The Hague? Here are some recommendations*. To view all the photographs (with the captions in full) of each city, click on any image and navigate using the left and right keys.
1. Most of the tourist attractions in the city of Leiden can be reached on foot. The pictured windmill – the Molen de Valk – can be spotted from the central train station, and is the only remaining miller’s residence in the country. It houses a museum, which provides information of the working mill’s corn-grinding mechanisms and offers a panoramic view of the city.
2. Down the street is the National Museum of Ethnology. The permanent exhibitions were not the most impressive, though the temporary Jimmy Nelson photography exhibition was enlightening. Besides displaying his works the video interviews were great. He spoke about colonial images of non-Western subjects (or objects), the perspectives of the indigenous people, and the differences between “authentic” and “staged” representations.
3. Atop a manmade hill is De Burcht, the Old Castle of the city. There is not much to see at the attraction (the locals do have picnics on the open space within the fort, and around the hill), but a walk around the top of the wall offers great views of Leiden.
4. Brunch at Bagels and Beans: ham on tomato bagel, served with a honey mustard sauce and a sundried tomato and pesto cream cheese. Chain café which serves good bagels.
5. View of the Rijn River. Such canals (and views) are common sights across the Netherlands.
6. I enjoyed The Hague a lot more. From the central train station get to the tourist information counter in the city centre, and as you walk towards the Peace Palace you will pass the Binnenhof and the Ridderzaal. Stroll through the courtyard to see the Inner Courts and the Hall of the Knights respectively: both the complex and the building had been the historical centre of Dutch politics, housing the government and visiting dignitaries.
7. The eponymous Panorama Mesdag is home to a cylindrical painting, the oldest surviving panorama – an unbroken view of a historical city surrounding the observer – in its original location. The panorama was alright, yet the summer exhibition of British contemporary artist Patrick Hughes was fascinating, with the clever use of optical illusions in the paintings.
8. The site of the Museum de Gevangenpoort was the main gate of the castle – the Binnenhof – though in the later centuries it functioned as a prison. Today the Prison Gate Museum organises regular tours, and while our tour guide was knowledgeable he struggled to fluently translate some Dutch terms in English. An insightful hour in the museum, nevertheless.
9. A must-see for all visitors, The Hague’s Peace Palace is the building for the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Peace Palace Library. Tours must be booked in advance (there was no tours on the day for us), but I thought the self-guided audio-visual tour around the information centre was interesting and informative.
10. Two slices of delicious cheesecake at the Malieveld, a large grass field across the central train station. The cheesecakes from the Cheesecake Company were divine.
* Not an advertisement, and also not sponsored (unfortunately).
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