Monday, May 12, 2008

Holland: Historical Walk Through Haarlem

Route description

From the VVV Haarlem, Stationsplein 1, we walk to the Grote Markt via the Kruisweg, Kruisstraat and Barteljorisstraat.

The size of the Grote Markt shows great similarity to Zandt in Bruges: both were used for big tournaments. The Great or Saint Bavo's Church, named after Sint Bavo (who is also the patron saint of the cathedral of Sint Baafs in Ghent), is a Late Gothic cross-shaped basilica with a slimline wooden crossing tower. Under the leadership of Evert Spoorwater, master builder of Antwerp, the transept was built in 1445-1465.

Once we return to the canal, we can admire the fa硤e of the warehouse on our left for a minute. We fold back to the right and pass by the small entrance gate to the Bakenesserhofje, which was founded in 1395 and is therefore the oldest court or almshouses in the Netherlands.

The Bakenesserhofje is open to the public on weekdays from 10.00 to 17.00, but unfortunately not on Sundays and holidays (entrance around the corner: Wijde Appelaarsteeg).
Haarlem has about 20 "hofjes" (courts or almshouses) that can be divided into 3 groups:

  • the 'church hofjes': mainly meant for the beguines of the church
  • the 'foundation hofjes': build by church governments (to help the poor) or by rich people (who wanted their name to live on)
  • the 'guild hofjes': for the benefit of poor members and the obliging ones (guild are an early form of trade unions)

To the right along the Spaarne we find the Teylers Museum, the oldest museum in the Netherlands, of which the interior in itself is a museum piece. At the corner of the Damstraat is The Weighhouse, built in 1595. The facing with blocks of natural stone is unique in Haarlem.

The Weighhouse stands on the corner of the Spaarne and was probably built by Lieven de Key in 1597/98. Via the Spaarne, the Gedempte Oude Gracht and the Groot Heiligland, the walk ends in the Frans Halsmuseum, built as an old men's home by Lieven de Key in 1608. In the museum we find works by master from Haarlem (Goltzius and Van Heemskerck among others and the group portraits of militia companies by Frans Hals. A large part of the permanent collection is stored when there is an exhibition, but the hall filled with gold leather from Mechling always remains unaltered.

No comments: