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The Hofvijver (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈhɔfɛivər]) is a small pond in the centre of The Hague. It is adjoined in the east by the Korte Vijverberg (road), in the south by the Binnenhof and the Mauritshuis, in the west by the Buitenhof and in the north by the Lange Vijverberg (road). In the middle there is a small island with plants and trees which has no name, it is usually referred to as "the island in the Vijverberg".
The term pond is actually a misnomer, as the Hofvijver has its origin in a natural dunelake fed by the Haagse Beek (Hague Creek) (Originally: Dunecreek) and the, nowadays muted, Bosbeek (Forestcreek) from the Haagse Bos (Hague Forest). The Haagse Beek still feeds the Hofvijver and so the pond is directly connected to the dunes in Kijkduin.
In this dunelake there was an island (not the current island in the Hofvijver) on which William II built his palace in 1248. Other sources say he built his palace alongside the pond and created a moat around it. The article about Floris IV on Wikipedia suggests that around 1230 Floris bought the piece of land next to the pond to build a hunting residence. In any case, the city of The Hague celebrated its 700 years of existence in 1948, suggesting that the city itself places its origin on the building of the palace by Willem II in 1248.
Count Albert decided on the rectangular shape in the 14th century. In the 17th century the Hofvijver got quays and in the 19th century it was elongated. up to around 1800 the Binnenhof was still encircled by a moat and was only accessible by bridges.
The island in the Vijverberg we know nowadays was only created around 300 years ago. How or why it was created is unknown. In the centre of the island stands a flagpole and the island itself counts a number of trees and small plants (no bushes). It is not open to the public. Alongside the island there is a fountain in the water. During demonstrations the island has been 'occupied' a couple of times and there have been banners displayed on the island.
Nowadays the Hofvijver is adjoined in the west by the Buitenhof, but until the 19th century that side was adjoined by houses. The pond is encircled by fairly high quays, but is very shallow on some points. In 2004 an underwater gate was built to make sure that nobody could swim to the prime minister's office without being detected. His office, the Torentje ("Little Tower"), adjoins the Hofvijver as it is located on the Binnenhof.
On the bank across from the Binnenhof (Lange Vijverberg) there is a statue of Jantje (Little John) pointing to the Binnenhof. 'Jantje' probably refers to John I, Count of Holland who died at the age of 15 years, and features in a well known Dutch children's song about The Hague.
References and further reading
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hofvijver.|
- Leo van Heijningen, Duizend jaren Hofvijver: de Hofvijvergeest spreekt, Hapax (2005)