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Published: June 20th 2016
The Hague (Den Haag) was only a 30 minute train ride from Haarlem so planned a one day trip there. We wanted to visit on the way north in 2013 but didn’t get the chance so now that we soon will be leaving the Netherlands we took the opportunity. Haarlem has an excellent art museum of work by Frans Hals, but decided not to go as our plan was to visit the Mauritshuis and the Escher Museum in The Hague. The Mauritshuis is known for its collection of the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age of Artists which would naturally include Frans Hals.
The train trip to Den Haag took us through one of the agricultural areas of the country. Many had been fields of flowers that were now empty except for the greens left behind and others were being prepared for planting. It is always interesting to see the extensive waterways necessary for removing the water from the land as it is below sea level. The dams are built to keep the sea out, but the rivers of the European continent run into the delta raising the water level as well. It is a constant battle that those in the
All "Free Space" Seems to be for Bicycle Parking
in the Netherlands - this was at the train station
Netherlands are used to and are experts at. Even though we know this to be true, it is always something to see when the fields are lower than the surrounding water!
The day we chose was sunny, but the wind was strong making it quite cold for walking around. We were glad that most of our time would be inside learning more of the art world. Our first stop was the Escher Museum. Many of you may be familiar with his artwork, but we found that there was much more that he did that was unfamiliar. The museum is located in what had been the winter palace of the Queen Mother Emma of the Netherlands.
Escher was born in 1898 in the Netherlands and died in 1972. Part of his life he lived in Italy which had quite an influence on his work. He is known for those designs that many of us have seen on men’s ties where it appears fish turn into birds, but in fact his work is multi-faceted. Many artists are influenced by nature, perspective and reflection and Escher was no exception. His work however was also intertwined with his interest in mathematic principles
The Escher Museum
in the former palace of Queen Regent Emma
related to infinity. The world around him influenced his work and he was a keen observer. While in Spain he and his wife even copied in detail many of the Moorish designed tiles and later used what he learned from them in his work. It was quite revealing to see Escher’s work over his lifetime as he moved back and forth between more realistic designs to those that are better known to us today. We had thought we knew Escher before we went to the museum, but realized that we had lots to learn.
It was near lunch time when we came out of the museum, so found a nice outdoor café nearby. We found out that it in fact was almost across the square from the American Embassy. It was actually difficult to tell as you couldn’t see the flag due to the heavy tree cover (and the building was quite hidden behind its high fence). Next on our list was to get to the Mauritshuis, a well known art museum with the best of the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age painters.
The building that it was housed in was built from 1633-1644 for a military commander,
but has been a museum since 1822. At times you had to stop viewing the artwork to look at the magnificent rooms as well. We have to pinch ourselves sometimes to think that we have had this wonderful opportunity to see artists such as Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens, Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt and numerous others. We fortunately took advantage of the English audio tape in order to learn much more about this period of artistic creations. Some of the paintings you recognize before reading the labels, but others were a surprise. One in particular was one that Rembrandt painted of Two Moors. As we were told moors (blacks) were typically only shown as slaves, not as the entire subject of a painting by such a renowned artist. No matter how many art museums we attend, we learn so much and hopefully appreciate the art work even more each time.
After filling a good part of our day inside we decided to try to walk around a bit of the City. We made it to the Binnenhof which has been the center of Dutch politics for centuries. There was a historic museum located here, but we passed on going as
the day was closing fast and we had one more important bit of business to do. Our wi-fi connections have not been that great lately; therefore we decided we needed to get a sim card for our iPad in order to keep up with email. Typically any time you purchase a short term sim card it is good for 30 days and only in the country you buy it in. We knew we were leaving the Netherlands soon, but we find that good wi-fi is critical so well worth buying it. Fortunately we found a place just before they closed and got one for 15 euro ($18) – not bad for good connections.
After that bit of business done it was time to head back to the train station and Haarlem. If it had been a warmer day we would have extended our walk around town more, but even with cutting it short we were very pleased with our day visit to The Hague.
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