Walk The Hague Forest

Discover the Secret Ancient Woodlands in The Hague!

Visit the Forest with a City Around it!

Haagse Bos, which translates to “The Hague’s Forest,” serves as a verdant entrance to The Hague. Spanning approximately 100 hectares, this forest stretches from Malieveld to the municipality of Wassenaar. A prominent pond graces the heart of the forest, making it an ideal spot for jogging, picnicking by the water, or strolling amidst the majestic old trees. Much like Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London, Haagse Bos is an important green refuge within a bustling city.

Haagse Bos Trail Sign
Painting - 80 Years War 1570s
Napoleon in The Hague - 1803
V-2 Rocket Launcher 1944
Hague Bombing Aftermath 1945
A12 Highway circa 1970
Malieveld Concert 2006
Ice Skating The Hague 2009
Park Sign
Hague Forest Signage

HISTORY

Initially, Haagse Bos was part of a larger forest that extended from ‘s-Gravenzande to Alkmaar, known as Het Houtland (“The Woodlands”), which later became Holland. Today, only Haagse Bos remains from this original forest. This forest, with its expansive and centuries-old green landscape, is deeply intertwined with The Hague’s rich history.

During William II’s reign, the forest was significantly reduced to provide space and timber for the expanding Binnenhof fortress and the surrounding village of The Hague. Despite this, strict regulations were enforced during the Middle Ages to prevent the complete deforestation of Haagse Bos, as it was a favored hunting ground for Dutch counts.

At the onset of the Eighty Years’ War, Haagse Bos was rapidly diminished to accommodate The Hague’s timber needs and growing population. By 1571, a sixth of the oak forests were felled to construct defenses against the encroaching Spanish army and build housing for soldiers. The “Act of Redemption,” signed by William the Silent in 1576, prohibited further deforestation or even the sale of the forest, and this law remains in effect today.

During Napoleon’s occupation in the early 1800s, there were plans to cut down the forest again, but saboteurs and protests prevented this. After the French army left in 1811, the wooded park was changed from rigid French-style designs to a more natural environment by introducing a variety of creeks, ponds, and waterworks to the landscape.

Since 1899, the National Forest Administration of the Netherlands (Staatsbosbeheer) has owned and managed the park, which was officially opened to the public in 1906. During the cold winter months during the Depression, many Den Haag residents needed to gather firewood from the park, but the area was restricted and off-limits to civilians. Still, many children managed to get into the area and bring pieces of wood back to their families.

WORLD WAR II

In World War II, the German Army used the forest as a launch site for their V rocket attacks on London. The dense tree cover, good road network and easy access made it the perfect location for the Third Reich. An Allied attempt to destroy this facility resulted in the accidental bombing of the Bezuidenhout neighborhood.

On March 3, 1945, fifty-six Mitchell bombers flew to Den Haag intending to target the Haagse Bos, where many V-2s were stored. But because of a navigation error, homes in the Bezuidenhout quarter suffered heavy damage with 486 civilians killed (see video).

Following the conclusion of the war on May 8, 1945, the Dutch embarked on a mission to restore the parklands to their former glory, wiping away any trace of the occupation. But the city still bears the scars of the war, visible in the many bunkers, craters and building damage that remain. Through the 1960s, Dutch conservators continued to improve the property with paved walkways, new playgrounds and extensive landscaping.

Yet despite being a protected area, in the 1970s a pathway for two major motorways, the A12 and the Laan van Nieuw Oost Indië, was cut through the woodlands over much public protests. Further development of this type was then prohibited in 2001, so the park has changed little since then. Today, the forest is a beloved green space for locals, serving as a sanctuary for wildlife, a recreational area and spiritual space for residents.

WOODLAND FEATURES

Malieveld

Originally part of Haagse Bos, Malieveld still borders the forest today. It is now a large grass field situated opposite The Hague Central Station and serves as a major venue for parties, funfairs, concerts, and markets throughout the year. Malieveld often makes headlines as a popular site for protests, rallies, and celebrations.

Koekamp

Koekamp was once the hunting grounds of Dutch nobles who resided in the castle that’s now part of the Binnenhof. Today, it retains its original function as a domesticated animal pasture, named after the cows that graze here. This section has various large water features to enjoy and a deer park where the animals roam freely. Each year there is a variety of storks, herons, and spoonbills breed at Koekamp.

Huis ten Bosch Palace

Nestled deep within Haagse Bos is Huis ten Bosch Palace. Since 1981, this palace in The Hague has been the residential palace of the Dutch Royal Family. It is one of three official residences of the Royal Family, the others being the nearby Noordeinde Palace in The Hague and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.

Dutch Book Echting 1778
Dutch Woodcut circa 1820s
Children in Hague Forest - 1930s
B-25 Mitchell Bomber
March 1945 Bezuidenhout
Autumn Color
Koekamp Resident
Huis ten Bosch

Videos about Het Haagse Bos – The Hague Forest

Maps of The Hague Forest Over Time

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