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

  The Royal City by the Sea: The Hague
 The center of politics, elegant & charming 

The Hague (Den Haag), Netherlands (2019) – Amsterdam is a great brand because whenever you think about the Netherlands, the Dutch capital pops up automatically. And yet, the Netherlands is so much more than "just" Amsterdam. Take the Hague for example, or Den Haag as the local call it, mostly known "only" as U.N.'s International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court. The city on the North Sea Coast is for centuries the center of politics and power in the country and today also the seat of the Dutch parliament. Even though it is not and never was the capital of the Netherlands. The Binnenhof in the heart of the city is where the political magic happens. It is one of the oldest Parliament buildings in the world still in use and houses  the meeting place of both houses of the States General of the Netherlands, the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister in the Little Tower, only a few steps away from the famous art loving tourist-magnet, the Mauritshuis, home to the most incredible masterpieces of Dutch painters such as Rembrandt or Vermeer. Also, the Dutch Royal family with King Willem-Alexander, son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, lives in the city, which gave the Hague its second name, The Royal City by the Sea. The Hague has a great balance of traditional and modern living, magnificent ancient buildings and ultra-modern skyscraper, a very cool inner city with a great selection of restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping malls, museums and everything else a tourists heart would long for. But not only that. The Hague offers also large nature reserves with the most awesome seaside life in the Netherlands. In one of the eight districts of the city, in Scheveningen, white sandy stretches behind gorgeous sand dunes with wild Scottish Highland cows, invite daily to a  good time at the beach with sunbathing, windsurfing or kiteboarding, to experience spectacular sunrises and sunsets in cozy beach pavilions, or to walks on the Esplanade, a visit to the lighthouse or fun at the pier.

Binnenhof & Inner City

The Binnenhof

Once you've arrived in the Hauge you have the agony of choice, where to go first. Let me help you, it is a time advantage to park your car as close as possible to the Binnenhof and start the Hague-tour from there.  As much you might want to stroll through the city first, go shopping or for lunch, as soon as you step through the entry gate of the Gothic-style Inner Court complex of the Binnenhof you have made your decision and will be fully compensated for your change of heart. Of all the many monuments in the historic districts, the Binnenhof – with the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights) as the main building of the 13th-century complex and the golden-black Binnenhoffontein (fountain) – is as picturesque as one could possibly hope for. Het Binnenhof as the Dutch call it (The Courtyard) is the political center of the Netherlands since 1584, originally it functioned as the residence of the counts of Holland. In the Hall of Knights were some of the most important events in Netherlands' history hosted, today King Willem-Alexander holds his annual speech on Prinsjesdag  (Pince's Day), to start of the new parliamentary year. The reigning monarch of the Netherlands addresses a joint session of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives.

Inner City – Strolling, shopping & lunch and dinner

Your stroll through the Inner City will show you that in the Haag you'll not only find whatever your heart wants but you'll find it in a very stylish environment. It all looks sophisticated, a little upscale even. The locals say it has to be like that since also the Royal family shops here. A visit at De Passage/Haagsche Passage, the Sting at the daily green market or at the De Bijenkorf/The Beehive is strongly advised. And should you get hungry or thirsty, there are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants located within.
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Scheveningen

Either you dive into the vivid life of Holland's most famous seaside resort at the pier, an icon of the Dutch coast, with restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, the sea promenade, a Ferris wheel, and even a zip line adventure as well as a bungy jumping tower. Or you enter the beach through the entries at the nature reserve and take a seat at one of the many beach pavilions to enjoy a sunrise, sunset and the fresh air the North Sea brings in. Very popular is the Westduinpark (West Dune Park) between Scheveningen and Kijkduin, one of the largest nature reserves in The Hague.

To walk into the sand dunes, as luring it might be, is not permitted, the dunes of Scheveningen were created to provide natural protection for the city from the overflowing water of the North Sea. But the park offers a great and extensive network of cycling and hiking trails and beach access where you can more than fill your appetite for water and sand. Don't be surprised if you meet some Scottish Highland cows in the dunes on your way to the beach. They are indeed wild and run around freely.
The absolutely stunning beach landscape in Scheveningen is one of the things you have to love the Hague for. It's only 10 to 15 minutes away from the inner city center and enjoyable in so many different ways.   

Mauritshuis – The Hague's jewel box

It's not the biggest museum in the world or even in Europe and not even the biggest in the Netherlands, but it is for sure one of the most beautiful and important ones. And it is home to hundreds of masterpieces of great Dutch and Flemish artists. 
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The Mauritshuis (Maurice House), a Dutch Classicist 17th-century building right next to the government center, the Binnenhof, in the heart of the Hague, houses not only masterpieces of the great painters Vermeer, Potter, Fabritius, Rubens, Brueghel, Jan Steen and more but also owns one of the most renowned and important collections of paintings done by the great Dutch master Rembrandt. The Mauritshuis was built originally as a residence for Count John Maurice van Nassau-Siegen between 1633 and 1644, who then was governor of the Dutch colony in Brazil. In 1820 the Mauritshuis was bought by the state to house the Royal Collection of Paintings and became a museum two years later. The Mauritshuis, also called the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, receives about 400.000 visitors per year. Because of the treasures it owns and shows inside the museum, the locals also call it their "the jewel box". 

In case you will be in the Hague before Mid September of 2019, use the rare opportunity and see the Rembrandt & The Dutch Golden Age-exhibition in which the Royal Picture Gallery shows for the first time in its history all 18 paintings in its collection that are, or had been once, attributed to Rembrandt. By the way, eleven of these paintings are still considered to be authentic works of the great Dutch painter, two are questionable and five are no longer considered Rembrandt paintings, but all are shown.

This amazing presentation of artworks in the Mauritshuis also comprises three masterpieces of Johannes Vermeer, including the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring and View of Delft, Peter Paul Rubens' Old Woman and Boy with Candles and Modello for the Assumption of the Virgin, Paulus Potter's The Bull, Jan Steen's As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young and Carel Fabritius' The Goldfinch.
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