The idyllic Haarlem is the capital of North Holland, and really worth a visit if you want to get out and about! From hidden picturesque streets to trendy concept stores. From medieval churches to fascinating museums and from Dutch Masters to French star chefs, you can find just about anything in Haarlem.
1. Canal cruise on the Spaarne
Discover Haarlem on the water!
The river Spaarne has been an important lifeline for Haarlem for centuries. Ideal starting point for discovering the city. Sail along with a tour boat or rent a boat and enjoy the Haarlem canals, the historic mansions, the special mills, the terraces along the water and the view of the beautiful monuments.
2. Grote of Sint-Bavokerk
In Haarlem you will find in and around the center a number of interesting churches that are worth visiting. On the Grote Markt you will find the Grote Kerk, also known as the Sint-Bavokerk. The 78 meters high wooden, lead clad tower you will notice from far away. This beautiful late Gothic medieval cross basilica towers high above the square so you can’t miss it!
The 14th century cruciform church has been the resting place of some famous people from Haarlem, including Frans Hals and Willem Bilderdijk. The church houses, among other things, the famous Müller organ, where Mozart once pulled out all the stops as a child, and the tomb of master painter Frans Hals. This impressive Müller organ is the most depicted instrument in the world, covering no less than the entire west wall of the church and measuring almost 30 meters. Although the building has a tempestuous history with severe fire damage, its beauty has remained untouched.
3. Saturday Market in Haarlem
The Saturday market takes place at the Grote Markt, near the Sint-Bavokerk, so it’s hard to miss it during your walk through the city. Still, it’s a hipper market than other Saturday markets: products from all over the world are available. Arabic, Italian, Spanish. There is even a man from Genoa who bakes pizzas in his mobile wood oven. Great for a picnic or to take away! Don’t miss the organic street, this is a part of the market with only organic products.
4. Amsterdamse poort
The name says it all, of course. The Amsterdam Gate is a Haarlem city gate from the 14th century and through this gate people left Haarlem to go to Amsterdam. The gate was built during the first expansions of Haarlem when an area on one side of the Spaarne was added to the city and a defensive wall was built to stop invasions.
The Amsterdamse Poort is also called the Spaarnwouderpoort, because at that time the road to Amsterdam ran through Spaarnwoude in connection with the passage of the Liede. This national monument is the only gate left of the original twelve medieval Haarlem gates.
5. Dome Prison
When you stand in front of this huge dome, you will immediately wonder, what is hidden under it? This building is a former penitentiary of the city of Haarlem and belongs to the National Building Agency.
The dome prison was built in 1901 and was inspired by a design for a panopticon structure as Jeremy Bentham had conceived in 1791.