Considered the seat of international law, The Hague is home to several major institutes of international justice; on a national level, it is also the seat of the Dutch Parliament, which first convened here in the 15th century. Take a tour around these hallowed institutions, or witness a trial that will make history books.
- Binnenhof (Inner Court)
Binnenhof 8a. Open Mon - Sat, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sun 12 - 5 p.m. Admission: € 4 - 6.
When Floris IV, Count of Holland, chose this plot of land for his lakeside mansion in the 13th century, little did he know that it was bound to become the epicenter of Dutch politics. Indeed, the Dutch Parliament still meets at the Binnenhof, now an architectural complex whose core is the Ridderzaal, a 13th-century Gothic hall. Guided tours introduce visitors to the monumental Ridderzaal and First and Second Chambers of Parliament (Eerste and Tweede Kamers); reservations are recommended. (Note that the Ridderzaal is not wheelchair accessible.)
- Vredespaleis (Peace Palace)
Carnegieplein 2. Tours weekdays at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. (4 p.m., May - Sept only). Admission: adults € 5, children € 3.
This modern palace was conceived as a publicly accessible international law library; since then, it has taken on several other institutes, as well as the Peace Palace Museum. Guided tours let visitors see the palace's corridors, Grand Staircase, Small Hall of Justice, Japanese Room, courtyard and the Great Hall of Justice, where the International Court of Justice convenes. Tours must be booked at least one day in advance via phone or email.
- International Criminal Court
Maanweg 174. Lectures Tues - Fri, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m (by application only); for trial schedule, see web site. Under 16's not admitted.
This international tribunal was established as a permanent court to address war crimes, instead of the ad-hoc courts that were once set up for each case; 114 countries worldwide are now members of the court. Visitors are invited to audit live trials, or listen to a 90-minute lecture on the mandate, structure and the activities of the court. (Applications for lectures must be submitted 2-3 weeks in advance via email; see web site for form.)