Thursday, October 16, 2008

Peace Palace

On Tuesday, dad and I rode our bikes to Scheveningen Pier and back. It was a quiet day on the North Sea, but I can imagine the crowds and activity on summer weekend.

On the way back we stopped at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The building was completed in 1913 and was designed to be a place to arbitrate disagreements between states, international companies, and treaties. Currently the building houses the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Hague Academy of International Law, International Court of Justice, Carnegie Foundation, and Carnegie Library. However, contrary to popular thought and my own, it is not where they try war criminals. This building is only for matters of the states and international organizations.

While the building was paid for by Andrew Carnegie and designed by the French architect Louis M. Cordonnier, the interior design and decor is a collaboration between the many countries that make up the UN. I wish I could post pictures but photography was not allowed inside; so you will just have to come visit and see for yourself.

The room that impressed me the most was the "Japan Room". The walls were decorated with handwoven tapestries that 48,000 people worked to complete. The front of the room had four 600 year old Ming Vases that were in immaculate shape. The "Japan Room" is where the council meets to go over administrative items and such, and so each country has its own chair for its diplomat/ambassador to sit in. On the chairs are hand embroidered crests of each country. The floor covering is the second largest, single piece Turkish rug - and despite all the foot traffic over the years is in surprising wonderful shape.

Outside of the Peace Palace is The World Peace Flame Monument. In the center is a flame that was lit from a torch from all seven continents. The flame is surrounded by The World Peace Flame Pathway. In the pathway there are 196 stones, one from each of the United Nation states and 6 others, brought by their ambassadors/diplomats from their home country. We looked for the stone from The United States on the map of the monument, but someone had crossed it off the diagram.

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