Historic Haarlem

During our visit to Amsterdam last November, we took two trips outside the city. The first was to Haarlem, just 15 minutes away by train. As we left the station and walked towards the main square, we were already noticing lots of interesting historic and decorative buildings.

The square, Grote Markt, is the heart of the city  where we admired St Bavokerk, the 14th century Town Hall, and a statue to Laurens Coster who is believed by Haarlemmers to have a claim, along with Gutenberg, to be the inventor of moveable type.

There is a small Tourist Information Office in the Town Hall, so we headed there to pick up a walking map of the old town which we followed for the rest of the day. At first, we passed mostly shops, some of which retained traditional signs such as this chemist (1849) and baker (1900).

Then we turned into residential areas, a higgledy-piggledy mix of narrow streets, small squares, churches and alms-houses.

Our steps then led us to 62 Groot Heiligland, formerly a poorhouse where the artist Frans Hals (1582-1666) spent his final years, and now a museum dedicated to him. We saw two interesting exhibitions, The Art of Laughter and A Global Table – both very good, but long over now so no point in me recommending them! Do you recognise Frans Hals’s friend in the bottom picture?

It seems our walk took us down to the canal after the museum. I really should write these trips up nearer the time – even with my map, I’m struggling to remember what all the buildings are, so much of the gallery below is not captioned.

A last hurrah for some more decorative features:

Then, in the faded light of late afternoon, we arrived back at Grote Markt from where we headed for the train.

With a few minutes to wait, we admired the art deco station, a national monument.

My Fitbit recorded 20,355 steps on this day, the second highest for our week in Amsterdam. The highest (almost 26,000) was the other day trip we did, to Utrecht. A post on that is coming soon – if I can remember it! In the meantime, this post is linked to Jo’s Monday Walk – today she’s in the beautiful North Yorkshire town of Knaresborough.


  1. It’s amazing how far you can walk when sightseeing! You may not remember the names / purposes of all the buildings, but they still make for wonderful photos and memories.

    This series of posts on the Netherlands has made me miss my (Dutch) mother. In my head I can hear her pronouncing the names of things and places in your stories 🙂


  2. I am very taken with the decorative panels set into the buildings. I especially like the visual narratives, like the St. Elysabets guesthouse panel and the one where the man witha long spear is stabbing something. Fascinating!



  3. That art is really amazing! I love noticing art within architecture. The other day I pointed out a tiny mural of fairies near our home to my daughter. She found a penny near the mural and insisted the fairies had left it there. Later, she dropped the penny and we couldn’t find it so she told me, “Oh well, the fairies took their penny back.”


  4. One of my work colleagues has been in Amsterdam this week. I had to call him yesterday (no rest for lawyers on vacation!), and he raved about the city. They went especially to see the tulips, and he says that is worth the trip alone.


  5. I love the photographs Anabel – you get a real sense of being on the walk with you. I don’t need captions to enjoy as I can get feel of the place. I do the same thing though – by the time I write up my posts I can’t remember all the exact locations! Haarlem looks a lovely historical town and a great day trip from Amsterdam 🙂