Wijnhaven: reviving the heart and soul of The Hague
Looking at the photograph above, it’s hard to realise that this was once the area around the Wijnhaven.
One of the oldest parts of The Hague, this area was the heart of the city. The names of the streets reflected their importance for the city. Wijnhaven, the wine harbour; Turfmarkt, the turf market; Kalvermarkt, the calf market: they all give an idea of the cargoes of food and drink that were unloaded at the canal harbour around 1650, providing food for the counts, countesses and earliest residents of The Hague. The Wijnhaven was excavated at the end of the 16th century as an extension of the Nieuwe Vaart, a canal from the Spui to the Haagse Bos. It was the busy, fashionable part of the city, and if the houses were still standing today, they would be worth a fortune. Mozart himself actually stayed in one of the hotels adjacent to the Wijnhaven.
In 1840, when the canal was filled in, the Wijnhaven ceased to exist. From that time, the street was renamed ‘Nieuwe Markt’ (new market). Within a period of 100 years, nearly all the city centre’s canals disappeared. Even though the name ‘Wijnhaven’ was restored in the Second World War, the city centre would never be the same again. All that remained after the war were a taxi rank, some tram lines and 3 small buildings, and it was a long time before any new construction took place. The surrounding Nieuwe Haven, Turfmarkt and Kalvermarkt were demolished, and the area became increasingly run-down in the period from the 1950s. The original Wijnhaven therefore never again became the bustling city centre that it was in the 17th century; when The Hague’s new City Hall was built, the Wijnhaven disappeared. It now bears the name Kalvermarkt.
The Wijnhaven that will become our home has therefore not inherited the original location of the Wijnhaven described here. Today, the open space around the Muzentoren is called the Wijnhaven: it’s where the Muzenstraat used to start and where the Military Hospital was located; it was also the location of the tram viaduct to the Central Station, built in the 1970s and since demolished. What the new Wijnhaven has inherited from the old Wijnhaven, however, is its vibrancy and style. The derelict city centre area of the 1950s will be completely revived when the new Leiden University Campus arrives. It will again be the place that brings all of The Hague together. And the bottles of wine? We expect that quite a few of those will again have to be unloaded.