We went to Haarlem for the day and the information centre suggested the self guided walking tour. Armed with a brochure and a map we set off from the Grote Markt, the original centre of the city of Haarlem. The city is located 20 kilometres from Amsterdam on the river Spaarne, and has a rich history back to pre medieval times.
Laurens Janz Koster dominates the square, standing in front of the Grote Kirk (Great Church).
He is represented holding a letter A in his right hand, a nod to his invention of a printing press.
The square is considered one of the loveliest in the Netherlands and is lined with restaurants, which were waiting for some warm weather.
Happily, the gallows which used to be in the square have been removed. The jousting competitions might have been fun to watch. Perhaps they could be brought back.
We headed off down Koningstraat, looking for the baker’s shop at number 37. It was built in 1900 and has a stone sculpture of a baker above the shop door. It is no longer a baker, it sells antiques, but was not open.
Our next stop was the chemist shop in Gierstraat number 3. It has a traditional ‘gaper’ over the door.
He is no doubt astonished because the shop sells ‘Haarlemmerolie’, an oil which is said to cure everything. The chemist shop dates from 1849 and has a fascinating interior.
We bought some of the oil, so I will be able to let you know soon what it cures.
We walked past the Niewe Kirk ( New Church) which was built between 1613 and 1616. It was covered with scaffolding, so we moved on to Karte Houtstraat, one of the greenest and prettiest in Harlem.
What a pity more people don’t get together to make their street look this good.
Next stop was the Provinciehuis, a pavilion built at the end of the 18th century to house the art and antique collection of Henri Hope, an Amsterdam banker. It is now the home of the Noord-Holland provincial council.
It has a wonderful circular driveway with a set of lions that look a bit Egyptian to me.
Opposite the house is a beautiful park, Haarlemmer Hout, which is hundreds of years old. It had a bit of a makeover in 1830, but some of the trees are original plantings.
We ducked in to have a look at the gorgeous art collection. Some of the rooms were closed for renovation, but what we saw was magnificent. The rooms themselves are worth the admission price.
It is wonderful to see these amazing paintings up close.
There is a beautiful garden at the back of the museum.
We wandered down a pretty shopping street and came to the back of the Grote Kerk.
It is huge, and quite stunning inside.
The wooden ceilings are amazing.
The Waag, or weighing house, was built in 1598 and functioned until 1915. It is now a restaurant.
It has a stunning roofline.
Nearby is the white drawbridge called Gravestenenbrug.
Beside the bridge are 2 beautiful buildings with traditional stepped gables, dating from around 1630. I liked the 2 beside those as well.
Behind these buildings was the De Olyphant brewery from 1550. There is a tiny stone elephant on the side of the building still.
The Spaarnwoulder Gate was not part of the walking tour, but we found it anyway.
From here we spotted a windmill and went on to investigate.
The mill dates from 1778, but it was all but destroyed by fire in 1932 and was rebuilt and open to the public in 2002.
Haarlem is a beautiful city. If you go, arm yourself with a guide and a map and get walking.
You would think from looking at these photos that it was a warm, sunny spring day. It was not. It was freezing, windy and raining on and off. I managed to get these photos in brief periods of sun, while being blown to bits by the Arctic wind.