Dutch Language Blog

Binnenhof: Eerste Kamer Posted by on Jul 21, 2020 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

The Binnenhof (Inner Court) is the center of the Dutch overheid (government). Located in the heart of Den Haag (The Hague), it oozes Dutch geschiedenis (history) and verhalen (stories). In this series, we’ll go building by building and explore what each is all about. Today, let’s check out the Eerste Kamer!

For more posts in the Binnenhof series, click here.

What is the Eerste Kamer?

The Binnenhof. Click on the image to see a version with an annotation of what each of the buildings is (Image by Rijksvastgoedbedrijf at Commons.wikimedia.org under license CC0)

The Eerste Kamer (“First Chamber”, the Dutch Senate) is on the top-right corner of the Binnenhof. When facing the Ridderzaal, it is immediately on your left. The meeting room faces the Hofvijver (Court Pond). The room that we are looking at today is located at the first floor at the address of the Eerste Kamer, Binnenhof 22.

Binnenhof 22, the address of the Eerste Kamer (Image by Tom Parnell at Flickr.com under license CC BY SA 2.0)

Like the Trêveszaal, the vergaderzaal (meeting room) of the Eerste Kamer was built to impress nationally and internationally. It was commissioned by the provinces of Holland and West-Friesland in 1650, just two years after the conclusion of the Tachtigjarige Oorlog (Eighty Years’ War). It’s a beautifully decorated hall that holds 75 senatoren (senators). There is also space for publiek (audience), so that burgers (citizens) can follow the procedures. These were added in the 19th century.

Image by Corne Bastiaansen, Rijksvastgoedbedrijf at Commons.wikimedia.org under license CC0

Why does the Eerste Kamer matter?

Image by Minister-president Rutte at Flickr.com under license CC BY 2.0

Since the grondwetsherziening (constitutional revision) of 1848, the Eerste Kamer is the last stop before a wet (law) officially comes into existence. Before that, the monarch had legislative powers. The last koning (king) with real legislative powers, Willem II, made sure that the Eerste Kamer would not forget him, and commissioned a huge painting of himself that was hung right above the chairman’s desk. In the picture above, you can see it on the right.

What do you think of the Eerste Kamer? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.