You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to antiques shopping in the international city of Den Haag. Stylish promenade the Lange Voorhout hosts an antiques market of both variety and quality every Thursday and Sunday (May to October).
While Amsterdam is charming, The Hague is downright cosmopolitan and feels oh so European. The Hague is full of embassy’s and tree-lined squares and happens to have the best shopping in Holland, which, I am quite certain, is why The Queen calls The Hague home. The Lange Voorhout, one of the most attractive promenades in town, combines these “Haagsch” qualities in one chic locale. On this square you’ll find The Royal Theatre where Mozart gave a concert in 1765, The American Embassy and The Palace Lange Voorhout (which was once home to members of the royal family and is now the MC Escher museum, devoted to the Dutch graphic artist). But for shoppers, the most important thing about this square is the antiques market.
Antique fairs in The Hague
From May until October, on Thursdays and Sundays, an antique and book market sets up selling the sort of brocante items you would expect to find on a stroll through Provence, France. On my last visit, I found some charming antique French stemware, an interesting painting straight off the fields of Flevoland and a great Prussian antique lithograph. This is not to mention the oodles of porcelain, interesting Indonesian art and scads of sculptures from Baroque to contemporary bohemian mixed media. At the book market, my husband found a 1st edition dated 1925 with a punchy Art Deco cover that makes it worthy of displaying, even if the text turns out to be less than tantalizing. Meanwhile, I browsed the stall selling used paperbacks (English books) for one euro each!
The fact that we were able to buy airport fiction in our native tongue is merely an example of the international allure of The Hague. In the De Posthoor café opposite the market, smartly dressed professionals, civil servants and diplomats meet for a “borrel” and the cacophony of languages sounds like a United Nations conference on steroids. The Hague has long enjoyed a reputation as an international Mecca, owing to its colonial past and history of trade with the Far East. This international exposure contributes a wealth of resources to the city’s ‘arts and antiques’ environment. Diplomats returning home from foreign lands off-load items at auction, giving the “object d’art” of Den Haag a decisively aristocratic, exotic mix!
Art markets in The Hague
This international mish-mash is particularly accented as at the Lange Voorhout market. With inventory from every corner of the globe, the Sunday market has slightly more vendors than the Thursday market, but on either day you are almost guaranteed to find something you’ll adore! And, should you by chance leave the market with empty hands, don’t despair! The Denneweg and Frederikstraat are located just around the corner – these two roads form the main antiques artery in town.
Before leaving the posh promenade to continue antiques shopping, stop at the . This famous hotel was built as a winter residence for a Baron over 150 years ago but today it part of the Crown Plaza chain. Many famous people have slept here over the years including Churchill, Eisenhower and in modern times, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. The Hotel des Indes has a gorgeous Edwardian lobby where you can reserve a multi-course High Tea– an afternoon tea experience that rivals The Ritz in Paris. Should you not want to spend EUR 30 on tea (wanting instead to save your euros for more antiques shopping), for EUR 4 you can sit contentedly with cappuccino and cookies and still enjoy the wonderful decoration inside the Hotel des Indes.
Whether planning a weekend in The Hague or popping into town for the day, the upcoming Art & Antiques Weekend is the perfect time to visit! The Kunst en Antiek Dagen is 30 -31 August 2008 from 10am – 5pm. During this weekend you will find a programme full of art & antique shopping-related activities for you and your whole family! Horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered free of charge, showing the best art and antique routes as they traverse the Noordeinde and the Denneweg while a special “en plein air” sculpture exhibit will take over the down town! To see a full schedule of programmed events, visit www.kunstenantiekmarkten.nl