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The Hague (Den Haag
) Tourist Information
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Between 1230 and 1280, a castle was built where the Binnenhof now stands in The Hague. Though it started off as a small hunting lodge, it was extended under successive counts, including Floris V. In the fourteenth century a settlement known as 's-Gravenhage (abbreviated to "Den Haag") grew up around the castle. Because of the court's presence, the settlement soon became a prosperous village and a modest centre of industry (textiles and beer brewing). The history of The Hague was made by the successive leaders and administrators who took up residence there. The Hague was where monarchs, stadholders and counts lived and where the representatives of the cities and provinces met, just as the members of parliament do today.

The Hague is still the
heart of political power in the Netherlands. Over the years it has also acquired importance as an international political centre. Aside from the residence of the Queen, the government and the foreign embassies, it also boasts several international institutions, such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Yugoslavia Tribunal (ICTY), and in future it will house the International Criminal Court. The Hague has therefore justly been dubbed the judicial capital of the world.

Not only is The Hague the official seat of parliament, it is also the home of Hollandís Royal Family. If the flag is raised at Huis Ten Bosch Palace, Queen Beatrix is in residence. The Queen has her offices in Noordeinde Palace, in the city center. Every year, on the third Tuesday of September, the Royal Family rides in the Golden Coach to the Binnenhof. Queen Beatrix officially opens the new parliamentary year by making her annual address from the throne at the Ridderzaal.

Over the years, The Hague has grown into a cosmopolitan city; it's now the site of no fewer than three royal palaces, some 64 foreign embassies, and European headquarters for innumerable international engineering, oil, and chemical concerns. The lush greenery of its original hunting grounds remains in the large parks, gardens, and woods that continue to thrive within the city limits.

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