The ‘Binnenhof’ is the heart of the Dutch government. Here resides the first and second chamber of the parliament and the little tower chamber of the prime minister. The Church is centered inside the court, it is called the ‘Ridderzaal’. Alongside the ‘Binnenhof’ is a little lake called ‘Hofvijfer’.
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The ‘Ridderzaal’ was build in the 13th century and was initially used as a party palace for the Count’s Court. It is build in a Gothic style, a style you won’t find a lot in the city. During the 17th and 18th century it was used as a market or waiting area for the court or for the drawing of the lottery. Nowadays it is used on the yearly prince day in September as the place where the king reads his annual speech. Also where all the Olympic medalists get there Royal Awards.
On the leftside of the ‘Ridderzaal’ is a squarebuilding. Inside this building resides the first chamber. It was build in the 17th century by Prince Maurits and it’s called the Mauritstower’. In 1626 Fredrik Hendrik and his wife Amalia van Solms moved in to the quarter and spiced up the place. Their son Willem II was born inside the Mauritstower. Citykeeper Willem III extended the place with a wing with four windows on the ‘Buitenhof’. Nowadays this area is used for the first Chamber of the parliament.
Former Second Chamber
On the right side of the ‘Ridderzaal’ is the building where the former Second Chamber of the Parliament resided. At the end of the 18th century the complex was build as a residence for Willem V. He only lived here for 2 years. Afterwards it was occupied as a military institute under the French regime. In 1815 King Willem I reopened the beautiful ballroom again for the second chamber meetings for his father. Up until 1992 the ballroom was used for the second Chamber of the parliament.
Directly next to the ‘Mauristshuis’ there is a little tower situated. This little tower is the office of the prime minister. The first mentioning of the tower is from 1354, and was originally used as a summer bower for the Earls of The Netherlands. With a little drawbridge it was connected to the Earls Garden, which is now the ‘Mauritshuis’. Since 1982 it is used as the office of the current Prime Minister.
The ‘Hofvijfer’ is a little pond alongside the ‘Binnenhof’. Despite it is called the royal pond, it is actually a dune lake. The dune lake is up until this day connected to the dunes of ‘Kijkduin’. In the dune lake Earl Willem II build a little castle on the little island on the lake, not the current island. In the 14th century Earl Aalbrecht rebuild the lake into a rectangle. Despite the added quays and the extension of the lake it still remains the same rectangle form. Up until 1800 the ‘Binnenhof’ was only accessible by a drawbridge because of the quays.