The Hidden Order

  • The Hidden Order – A Journey of Exploration Along the Prime Meridian
  • Awarded with the German ITB Book Award 2013 for Outstanding Travel Books
  • Awarded as Best Travel Story 2010 by the Dutch Travel Bookstores
  • Longlisted as Austrian Scientific Book of the Year 2012 (Natural Sciences and Technics)
  • Translated into German

Cover of The Hidden Order (Dutch edition)

  • De verborgen ordening
  • Een ontdekkingsreis langs de nulmeridiaan
  • Cossee Publishers, Amsterdam, 2010 (Dutch edition)

Cover of The Hidden Order (German edition)

See the pictures >>>


‘There was no way back, I was a middle-aged man with a backpack and an invisible line to hold on to.’

The Hidden Order is a unique document on Alfred van Cleef’s travel along the Prime Meridian, the invisible line between the North and South Pole that billions of people use every day to determine time or location.

Alfred van Cleef followed the Prime Meridian over land. On his own and with a GPS device to guide him, he started his journey on a cloudy summer’s day. Between Tunstall, England, and the port of Tema in Ghana, he would encounter mountaintops, rivers, cemeteries, industrial areas and deserts harbouring Al-Qaeda cells.

Using all types of vehicles the author follows the Prime Meridian, which exposes him to mushroom hunters, entrepreneurs, nomads, mayors, rainmakers, kings, squatters and fetish priests. Connecting cultures and places, he weaves together different worlds. Worlds that are linked to the hidden order that always provides man with a location in time and space.

Van Cleef’s journey is intertwined with the history and the geographical and philosophical meaning of the Greenwich Meridian, and that of time and date. Above all, The Hidden Order is a penetrating, thrilling and funny account of an extraordinary voyage through 21st century Europe and Africa: an open world along an invisible line.

To support Dutch literature beyond our borders, translation grants can be obtained through the Dutch Foundation For Literature (formally the Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature). Click here for more information about translation grants.


  • In The Hidden Order Alfred van Cleef provides readers with a combination of adventure and information that is both knowledgeable and very well written.Jury of the 2013 ITB Buch Award for Outstanding Travel Books
  • The Hidden Order turns into a journey on the wonderful roads of Europe which Van Cleef  intertwines with historical stories and philosophical insights about the Prime Meridian. His clear style of writing and perceptive mind caries the reader along the route. In Africa Van Cleef’s descriptions of people and landscapes flourish. As a reader you tend to forget about the invisible line, but the author is quick to grab your Volkskrant ***
  • What makes Alfred van Cleefs’ book so appealing is that he ends up in places, that in fact are not worth a visit, that he meets people to whom normally no one listens, and that in that way he experiences things, which  in their incredible ordinariness are spectacular.Süddeutsche Zeitung
  • The Hidden Order offers lots of good pub quiz questions.Geography (magazine of the Royal Dutch Geographic Society)
  • The Hidden Order deserves to be published in many countries, even far from the prime meridian.Dutch Library Service
  • Above all, the author of The Hidden Order is a true writer and a true traveler who has chosen a very special subject for this novel. If you are looking for a travel book filled with mild, often somewhat cynical humor, which is also very informative and should at least be mandatory for geography teachers, look no further than The Hidden Order.Reformatorisch Dagblad
  • In the masterly The Hidden Order Alfred van Cleef connects adventure and information harmoniously in an attempt to reach for the untouchable and maybe become happy.Nederlands Dagblad
  • The tougher the journey gets, the more laconic Van Cleef becomes. Exactly this lack of excitation leads to a fascinating attraction, which occasionally even makes the emptiness seem earth-shattering.Die Zeit