Past and present

Around 1900, in a context of an increasing threat of war, an international peace movement emerged that explored opportunities for disarmament and processes for adjudicating international disputes. This led to international peace conferences in The Hague in 1899 and 1907.

During the latter conference, the first stone was laid of a building that would house the Permanent Court of Arbitration and embody the idea of worldwide peace. After an architectural competition, French architect Louis Cordonnier’s design in neo-renaissance style was adopted. Of the four planned towers, only two were built. They mark the two courtrooms in the palace. The building was donated by American steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and was inaugurated on 28 August 1913, less the one year before the outbreak of the First World War.

The major tower housed a clock and a striking bell, both donated by Switzerland, but the palace lacked a carillon. According to archival documents, William Gorham Rice wrote in 1926 and 1927 from his hometown Albany to advocate for a carillon with 35 bells, to be cast in England. It is not clear who the potential donors were, nor why the project was not carried out.

The renewed idea for a carillon emerged in 1986 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Peace Palace. Funds were raised by international institutions and organisations, such as the Belgian and Swiss governments, the Carillon Society of Australia, and international companies and organisations that promote international justice and peace. The Dutch Queen Beatrix and her husband Prince Claus were also among the donors. The instrument was completed in different phases. The last bell was handed over to the president of the Carnegie Foundation, the owner of the instrument, on 1 October 2013, the centenary of the Peace Palace. Palace carillonneur Heleen van der Weel often plays music that is directly related to the idea of peace.

Facts and figures

Number of bells 48
Total weight of the bells 6,753 kg
Weight of the bourdon 1,190 kg
Pitch of bourdon e1 flat, connected to c in the keyboard
Bell-founders Eijsbouts (38 from 1994, 4 from 1996, 5 from 2000, 1 in 2013)
Manual playing system mechanical baton-type keyboard
Automatic playing system none
Carillonneur Heleen van der Weel / Henk Groeneweg (assistant)
Regular recitals Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 1.45 pm
Summer concerts no
Accessibility of the tower no

Significant inscription


[from the heights one moment of peace]


Incription on the plaque with the names of the donors of the carillon


Social visit