Take a tour of the collection of buildings and open spaces called Binnenhof to see inside the official chambers of the Dutch government. Before you enter, view the complex from across the Hofvijver (Royal Pond). Look for the Dutch prime minister’s hexagonal office called Het Torentje (The Little Tower).
Binnenhof (Inner Court) was built in the 13th century and was originally a residence for the Dutch count Floris IV and his son William II. In 1446 Dutch rulers decided that the complex was a perfect place in which to house the parliament. Since then, except for a short period in the early 19th century, the buildings have been the center of Dutch politics. At Binnenhof, you may spot a minister on a bike, because even prominent Dutch politicians like cycling to work.
See how the large equestrian statue of King William II seems to guard the Stadtholder’s Gate, the main entrance. Inside, walk around the neo-Gothic fountain in the public courtyard. Your eyes will be immediately drawn to the central Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights), a former ballroom. This 13th-century structure has two tall towers on either side of a pointed roof. From the Ridderzaal the Dutch king gives his annual address to the nation during Prinsjesdag (Princes’ Day), on the third Tuesday of September.
To step inside the buildings you will need to join one of the daily tours, which includes a short video on the history of the Binnenhof and then a visit to the Ridderzaal. On selected days, some tours also include the Senate or the House of Representatives. It’s recommended that you book the tour in advance.
Binnenhof is located in the center of The Hague and is regularly serviced by trams. The courtyard is always open to the public, except during special ceremonial events, when the whole complex is closed. There is a fee for the guided tours, which are held in English on Sundays. There are also audio guides and brochures provided in English. Ask the receptionist at the ProDemos Visitors Center about the tour schedule.