Olli Thomson


No, that’s not a spelling mistake. Last week I was in the Netherlands visiting friends and spent a day in the city of Haarlem, just outside Amsterdam. Unfortunately the weather was mostly cold and wet while I was there and I wasn’t able to do as much photography as I had hoped, On the day I visited Haarlem it was at least dry with some sunshine, though there was also a bitingly cold wind blowing. Here are a few pictures.

The first picture shows the view along the Nieuwe Gracht or New Canal from the Zandersbrug. Turn around and you see the Molen De Adriaan on the other side of the river Spaarne. The original windmill was built in 1778 and stood until 1932 when it was destroyed in a fire. Plans to rebuild the windmill were drawn up almost immediately but it was not until 2002 that the new windmill opened. While it is fully functional it is primarily a museum and tourist attraction.

Haarlem’s old town is very compact and it’s only a short walk from the railway station to the main city square. I walked down Jaanstraat and a few of the side streets which still have many traditional houses. The two houses in the first picture are in Korte Wijngaardstraat, numbers 12 and 14, and date back to the early 17th century. The house in the second picture is older still dating back to before 1600. In 1609 it was bought by Hans Salomons who acquired it from the previous owner, a wine seller, and opened it as an inn. Salomons added the plaque you can see in the picture with its depiction of a scene from the inn as the guests gather round a wine barrel (the toelast of the inscription.)

The Grote Kerk, also known as Sint-Bavokerk, stands in the Grote Markt and dominates the city skyline. The church was originally built between the 14th and 16th centuries though there was a church on the site prior to this one. There will be another post specifically about the church so I won’t go into too much detail now. Beside the church in the main square is a statue of a prominent Haarlem citizen, Laurens Janszoon Coster. Coster was sexton of the Sint-Bavokerk and city treasurer for Haarlem in the 15th century. It is also claimed that he invented the printing press around the same time as Gutenberg. So in the statue he is holding aloft a block bearing the letter ‘A’. That said, there appears to be no evidence to back up this claim and I’m not sure anyone beyond Haarlem believes it.

This final set of pictures shows the central square, the Grote Markt, and Haarlem City Hall. The building dates from the 14th century, though the present facade was added in the early 17th century.

In the next post I’ll show you the inside of Sint-Bavokerk.

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