Haarlem – also referred to as Flower City
Haarlem is a city you have to put on your list of places to visit! Haarlem has a beautiful monumental city centre with lots of great restaurants, café’s, bars and museums. You can even find a brewery in a former church! On top of that, Haarlem has won the title ‘best shoppingcity of the Netherlands’ several times. Time to visit this lovely town!
On September 20, 1839 the very first train ride in the Holland went from Amsterdam to Haarlem. The ride took 25 minutes. Nowadays the ride only takes 15 minutes. If you arrive at Haarlem Central station, you are treated with a beautiful building. Haarlem has got Holland’s only Jugendstil-style train station. It was built in 1908. The station has been used many times for movie recordings, for instance Ocean’s Twelve.
Flower City Haarlem
Haarlem has been the historical center of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries and has the nickname ‘Bloemenstad’ (Flower City). The flower fields and the famous Keukenhof flower gardens are very near. Every year the flower parade – starting in Noordwijk – ends in Haarlem. The beautifully decorated floats always stay on display a couple of days in Haarlem. You can imagine the georgeos smell lingering in the air.
Liberation Pop event
The big event of the year in Haarlem however is ‘Bevrijdingspop’ (Liberation Pop). Thousands of people from far and wide gather here to celebrate freedom on the 5th of May, which is Liberation Day in Holland. This festival is the oldest liberation festival on the 5th of May in The Netherlands, but is still alive and kicking.
There are several museums in Haarlem. The best known is the Frans Hals museum, named after Haarlem’s most famous painter of the 17th century. The museum is known for its Golden Age collection. The Teylers museum has an art, natural history and science collection. This is the oldest museum of The Netherlands (1784). For modern and contemporary art Haarlem has Museum De Hallen. Another museum which is interesting to mention is the Dolhuys museum. This museum is located in a former psychiatric hospital where – since the16th century – the mentally ill used to be nursed. Nowadays it is a museum with the human psyche, in all its aspects, as main subject.
If you like shopping, then Haarlem is the place to be. For several years Haarlem has been elected ‘best shopping city of Holland’. There are many little streets, also knows as the ‘golden streets’ where you can find the finest shops and boutiques. The names of the golden streets are; Gierstraat, Schagchelstraat, Koningstraat, Warmoesstraat, Jacobijnestraat, Zijlstraat, Warmoesstraat and Kleine Houtstraat.
Most ‘golden streets’ lead to the ‘Grote Markt’ (Great Market Square), where the St. Bavo church rises up high. On and around the square there are many restaurants, cosy bars and fine cafés to be found. When the weatherconditions are fine, the terraces on the square are packed with people. On this square you will also find the touristoffice VVV Haarlem (address: Grote Markt 2)
Hidden gem in Haarlem
A hidden gem you absolutely should visit is Van der Pigge. This pharmacy exists since 1849 and may be the oldest shop in Haarlem. If you enter this shop it’s like walking into a different century. The interior hardly has changed since it opened in 1849. Here you can buy creams, herbs, etc. The address of Van der Pigge is Gierstraat 3, which is one of the golden streets by the way.
When you stand in front of Van der Pigge, you must notice the big building which has been built around the pharmacy. This has got to do with the fact that in 1928, the owners of Van der Pigge did not want to sell their property to the former V&D (departmentstore company). So V&D just had to build around the old pharmacy. Nowadays Van der Pigge is still going strong, whereas V&D has gone bankrupt in 2016.
If you deceide to visit Van der Pigge, you might consider buying the worldfamous ‘Haarlemmer Olie’ (Haarlem Oil). This medicin exists since 1696 (!) and is still being produced by the 11th generation of the original creator. The oil has been spread around the world because of missionaries and sailors wandering around the globe. People swear by the purifying effect of the oil.
Haarlem has its own brewery (with award winning beers!) in the center of the city. The fun thing about this brewery is that it is located in a former church. This explains the name ‘Jopenkerk’ (Jopenchurch). You can buy a beer direct at the bar inside this brewery. The place is beautiful and worth a visit. In 2013 it won the title ‘most beautiful bar of The Netherlands’. Besides the bar and brewery there is also a restaurant where you can have lunch and dinner or just enjoy a drink. The address is Gedempte Voldersgracht 2.
Courtyards with almshouses
Haarlem has around 20 courtyards with almshouses. They were built in the 13th until the 19th century in order for needy elderly people and retired women to live. One of the characteristics of courtyards are the little houses built around an innercourt which functions as garden. The oldest courtyard in Haarlem is Bakenes. It was built in 1395. Nowadays there are still elderly women living in this courtyard. The address is Wijde Appelaarsteeg 11F.
If you are tired of the hustle and bustle in the city, you can also decide to go to the beach. During the whole year it is possible to have lunch/dinner in a beach club. By car, the beaches of Zandvoort or Bloemendaal are only a 15 minute drive. By train it will only take you 10 minutes to get to the beach of Zandvoort.
Discover Haarlem yourself! This city has so much to offer. You won’t be dissapointed! For more information you can visit the website of the tourist office VVV Haarlem.