April 26, 2018

All Aboard de Oievaart! The First Diplomatic Canal Tour

Diplomats credited to the Netherlands ready to join the canal tour.

By Catherine van der Loos.

Some 62 diplomats and representatives from international organizations in The Hague, joined Diplomat Magazine on a two hour ontdekkings-reis, discovery tour, of The Hague’s grachten gordels or canal rings on Sunday, July 9.

The splendid summer weather ensured that the program was a success—and a second boat was needed to accommodate the many passengers who responded to the invitations to come aboard “De Ooievaart!”.

Checking the route before departure. H.E. Aviv Shir-On, Ambassador of Israel and H.E. Peep Jahilo, Ambassador of Estonia.

For additional Robert Huiberts and Jan van der Loos’ pictures, please open the following link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/121611753@N07/albums/72157683610929034

The group, from more than 15 countries, departed from the Ooievaart’s home port on the Bierkade at 11:00 am for a two hour canal tour of the city’s extensive network of canals.

Many of the passengers were surprised to learn that some of the canals were originally dug more than 400 hundred years ago and are an average of just 1.5 m in depth!.

The Ambassador of Bangladesh, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Belal, the Ambassador of Malaysia, H.E. Ahmad Nazri Yusof and the Ambassador of Iran, H.E. Alireza Jahangiri ready to get into The Hague’s canals and bridges. Photography by Jan van der Loos.

The knowledgeable guides entertained the group with an informative presentation on the city’s lesser known, but often more colourful, history.

While the boats floated through the canals, the passengers were treated to light “Picnic style” refreshments including wine, water, cheese, snacks and fruit catered by “Eten bij de Wereld” restaurant.

While enjoying their picnic snacks, passengers networked with each other while expanding their knowledge of a centuries long tradition of internationalism, in the city of peace and justice.

The boats floated along a canal near the Paviljoensgracht 72, where the group caught a glimpse of the home of the renowned Dutch philosopher, who is credited for having laid the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment.

It was the last home of Baruch, Benedictus de Spinoza, the author of “Ethics” (published posthumously), who lived in the home from 1670 until his untimely death at the age of 44 in 1677.

H.E. Ms. Mirsada Čolaković, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photography by Jan van der Loos.

The former atelier of Paulus Potter, a painter from Holland’s “Golden Age”, on the Dunne Bierkade 17 soon came into view. Today, Potter’s most famous work, De Stier (1647), can be seen in the Mauritshuis.

As the boats floated through the Mauritskade, the guides explained the history of Willemspark, and the subtle influence that the Grand Duchess Anna Paulowna Romanov (1795-1865), the daughter of Russia’s Czar Paul I Petrovich Romanov, had on the city during her marriage to Willem Frederik George Lodewijk prins van Oranje-Nassau (1792-1849), later King Willem II.

One of the forty brigdes


The Hermitage’s branch museum, which opened her doors to the public in 2009, is a recent example of the long standing relationship between Russia and the Netherlands which had, in part, origins in the 1816 marriage between a Russian grand duchess and a Dutch prince in St. Petersburg.

Maray Jahangiri , spouse of the Ambassador of Iran and Dr Dilruba Nasrin, spouse of the Ambassador of Bagladesh during the tour. Photography by Jan van der Loos.

Towards the end of the journey, the boats floated past Nieuwe Uitleg 16, where Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (1876-1917), the exotic dancer and courtesan who was better known as “Mata Hari”, resided in 1915 and 1916. “Mata Hari’s” life, which took her from Leeuwarden to Java, then a part of the Dutch East Indies, ended in infamy when the French ordered her execution by firing squad on October 15, 1917.

Some seven months earlier, she had been arrested by French authorities as a double agent and German spy, in her luxurious Parisian hotel room on the Champs Elysées. Mata Hari’s, continues to spark the interest of historians, and her story has been the subject of many books, plays and films.

These four aforementioned homes are among many with a history to share with passengers.

Roy Lie A Tjam, Diplomat Magazine Editor. Photography by Jan van der Loos.


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