A couple of weeks ago, just before the weather turned cold and wet, my friend and I booked a guided tour in The Hague. We were looking forward to getting more detailed information about the Art Nouveau buildings than we would get from a regular guidebook, but that turned out a little disappointing.
We had looked up the possibilities on the internet and found the following organisations offering guided Art Nouveau tours in The Hague:
- Gilde Den Haag (Min. €4/pp, max. €16/pp)
- Elisabeth’s (Min. €25/pp, max. €160/pp)
- Haagse Gravin (€13,50/pp, min 6 pers)
- Holland Tourguides (€16/pp, min 10 pers)
- Vrije Academie (€25/pp, only on fixed dates)
As there were only two of us, and we wanted to do the tour on a date that suited us, only Gilde Den Haag en Elisabeth’s remained a possibility. Elisabeth’s would be €85/pp and Gilde Den Haag would be €8/pp. We decided to give Gilde Den Haag a go.
Our guide was an elderly man who carried a list with all addresses he needed to check-off during his walk. He basically rushed from one address to the next, reading the information from his piece of paper to us, not checking if we were actually within hearing distance…
Picture me, trying to get a good photo from all angles; needing to zoom in on all the details. The streets were narrow, and there were cars and bikes everywhere. And then there was this guide hurrying some 50 meters ahead of me… I’m afraid I didn’t get much of what he said.
Just to get things in perspective: all Gilde guides are volunteers. Yet still, if you have no passion for this subject, you shouldn’t volunteer to guide people who do… My friend and I didn’t say a word during the walk, flabbergasted as we were, but as soon as our guide left us, we agreed 100% that this was not how things should be done. We were VERY disappointed about the ‘guided’ part of the guided tour.
However, we were impressed by the gracefulness of the buildings along the route, and we would love to do this walk again some day, at our own pace. Luckily, just before he left us, our guide handed over his – rather incomplete – address list; the ordeal turned out not to have been a complete waste of time. And the best thing is: I completed the missing details, and now you can download the list here: Jugendstil walk in The Hague.
Apparently, the local Tourist Information Office has published a similar list in 2007, which can be downloaded here.
If you have experience (good ór bad) with guided tours in The Hague or anywhere else, please share your experiences with us in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!
I found this second hand book (in Dutch) about Art Nouveau Architecture in The Hague. Click on the picture, to be redirected to the bookshop.
Update 2017: Peter van Dam is currently working on a series of books about the 19th and 20th century architects of The Hague. The first book you might want to look into is this one about W.B. van Liefland (1857-1919), eigenzinnig Haags architect en stedenbouwkundige. Other architects on Van Dam’s planning are Lodewijk A.H. de Wolf, Johannes Mutters, Zacharias Hoek and Johannes Thomas Wouters. (Haagse Bouwmeesters in de 19e en 20e Eeuw)
Anno 1900 – Het mooiste jugendstil huis van Den Haag
Den Haag by Chris Schram
Monumentenzorg Den Haag
W.B. van Liefland 1857-1919 by Peter van Dam