Stepped gables in The Hague

I was born in a house with a stepped gable, a fact I’m immensely proud of. But my birthplace presents a serious complication for a tour guide in The Hague: is was situated in another city!

It seems sensible to make this confession. So yes, I’m not a citizen of The Hague by birth. I moved to this town at the age of 18. The reason for my relocation was my love for a man I met and who was born and bred in The Hague. And I can say that my love for this man has well and truly extended to a large love for the town of The Hague.

If I had been born in The Hague, I would have had much less chance of starting this blog with the same introduction. This is because there are very few stepped gables in this city. More specifically, “original” stepped gables, dating from the Renaissance.

Where can you find stepped gables?

Den Haag Lange Voorhout PageshuisThe most prominent stepped gable building in The Hague is the Pageshuis at the Lange Voorhout. The building (constructed beginning in 1625) gets its name from the pages who served at the court of the Stadholder. Pages were boys from noble families that came to court as apprentices to be taught basic combat and etiquette, a kind of management training.

To find other singular buildings with stepped gables you have to go to other parts of the inner city of The Hague. You will find one in the Herderinnestraat and one in the Nieuwe Molstraat. And you can see stepped gables as parts of larger building complexes and alms houses.

Fashion dictates

Den Haag trapgevelWhy are there so few stepped gables in The Hague? During the time that this type of gable was in fashion (from the Middle Ages onwards), The Hague was still rather small. Around 1600, the population began to grow and the city expanded through construction of new streets and buildings, as seen, for example, in the Korte Vijverberg.  By then, however, fashions in architecture had rapidly changed, and those who had money, showed the world by following the latest style, which is today called Dutch Classicism.   The Mauritshuis and the Sebastiaansdoelen (now Historical Museum of The Hague) are major examples of this style. Wealthy people who already owned perfectly good buildings  kept up with the fashionados by simply replacing their “old fashioned” stepped gables  with the more “modern” look.

The story of the stepped gables is a clear example of the changes that took place and will continue to take place and affect the visual character of The Hague.

I will show you these changes during my city walks and bicycle tours.

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1 thought on “Stepped gables in The Hague”

  1. What an interesting article. I will visit Den Haag soon. During my visit I really want to see a stepped gable building. I want to make a photo of it.

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Jacqueline Alders 3

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