Binnenhof: Eerste Kamer Posted by Sten 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!
What is the Eerste Kamer?
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.
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.
Why does the Eerste Kamer matter?
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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