Castel dell'Ovo in Naples, fortress & former royal residence

Europe's biggest circular painting
H. W. ​Mesdag's Panorama in The Hague   

The Hague (Den Haag), Netherlands (2019) – Have you ever heard of Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831 - 1915)? To be honest, before my trip to the Royal City by the Sea I had no idea who H. W. Mesdag was. Even the clue he's a Dutch painter didn't help much, there are so many of them, the great Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer immediately come to mind, but Mesdag? Negative. Well, H. W. Mesdag is considered one of the great sons of The Hague and in fact famous for having created Europe's biggest circular painting – the Panorama Mesdag. This enormous and incredible piece of art shows on canvas 120 meters long and 14 meters high with a diameter of nearly 40 meters in a 360 degree view the panorama of The Hague's beach district Scheveningen, the beach, the dunes and the old fishing village as it was in 1881. This outstanding artwork can be experienced at the Panorama Mesdag museum next to the Hilton-Hotel in The Haag on Zeestraat.

They had to build 
a museum around
the panorama

14 by 120 meter canvas for the 360-view

The Mesdag Panorama museum featuring Europe's biggest circular artwork is one of The Hague's most popular attractions. Unfortunately for the artist, Mesdag's great artwork became only world-wide famous long after his death.

All began with a trend in the neighbor country Belgium where panorama paintings were in fashion in the 1880s. The Hague artist and art collector Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831–1915), who in earlier years worked in the family banking business and only painted as a hobby, was commissioned by a Belgian company to paint the panorama in 1880. 

The Belgians supplied the enormous canvas pieces with a hight of 14 meters and a length of 120 meters and Mesdag painted with the help of colleagues, some of his students and his wife Sientje the panorama. It took four months to complete The Hague Maritime Panorama. Mesdag used sketches as a basis for the artwork collaboration. Sketches he had drawn of the beach in Scheveningen and the village, in an extraordinary time-consuming effort, he gave great importance to the exact views and angles. To help understand the perspective he also used photographs, especially for some details regarding the drop shadow on the buildings. 

The panorama painting shows the beach life in historic Scheveningen, the old village with the red rooftops, multiple fishing ships, army troops on horses and if true even Mesdags wife Sientje painting on an easel the ship scene. The story is told that this was Mesdags way to sign his 360-panorama. 

Once bankrupt, today The Hagues attraction

In order to show the huge circular artwork, the Belgians had to build on The Hague's Zeestraat a roundabout building, in the meanwhile recognized as a beautiful example of industrial architecture – the Mesdag's Maritime Panorama. It opened in 1881 but only a few years after, in 1885, the business went bankrupt due to a lack of visitors and too high ticket prices.

H. W. Mesdag took the opportunity and bought back the building and rented his artwork out at times to museums in Munich and Amsterdam to balance the cost of now his own museum. Until his death in 1915 Mesdag operated and held onto the Panorama museum even it didn't do much better in the years to come and despite all its financial losses. Between 1918 and 1934, when the museum was temporarily taken over by the city and ticket prices were drastically reduced, the star Mesdag Panorama was born, visitors came not only for the Netherlands but from all over the world. Today the Mesdag  Panorama is a tourist classic in The Hague.

The Panorama Mesdag is a truly unique location. A quite narrow staircase leads you up and right into the middle of the largest painting in the Netherlands. The 360º-experience is amazing, the light effects create the perfect atmosphere for visitors to have not only the best panorama view of the old fishing village Scheveningen and the seaside resort of the 1880s but also a very realistic one.

​In 1881 Vincent van Gogh was quoted having said the following, “The Mesdag Panorama is the most beautiful sensation of my life. It has just one tiny flaw and that is its flawlessness.”
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Leiden – Grachten and Pannenkoeken
One of the coolest things to do in Leiden is the boat tour on the canals – "Grachten" as the Dutch call it – discovering the beauty of the city on its waterways. After renting the boat at "Blauwpoorts Harbour", right in the center of Leiden, you will steer your boat as captain for the day yourself from one gorgeous landmark to the next. Check out Leiden, tulips, windmills, canals and some of the greatest works of art are all close by, plus this charming Dutch city is an attraction by itself.​ 
Check out Leiden