Streets / Canals, Haarlem
At the Kruisstraat 26 a remarkable house is located. Although it looks centuries old, it was constructed in 1932. The building was made on order of pharmacist Nolf by architect C.C. van Beaumont in a Flemish style. On the front are the portraits of Lieven de Key,Hans Memling, Hubert van Eyck, Jan van Eyck, Dieric Bouts and Frans Hals made by local wood sculptor Marinus Vreugde.
The awning reads: ”Const, Eer, Wijsheyt, Macht, Rijckheyt groot, is onghespaert als comt de Doot”, after the grave text of Hubert van Eyck in de St. Bavo church of Gent.
Other symbols on the front come from the pharmacy world. Additional texts are: “Beghinnen can ick, volherden will’ick, volbringhen sal ick”.
Als the illustrations in the stain glass windows are old Haarlem and Brugge city views.
Although Haarlem is very considerably smaller than Amsterdam it still has lots of lovely architecture to enjoy.
Look out for the 'name-stones'. look upwards to enjoy the gables (lots of crow-stepped gables in Haarlem). spot the 'Jugenstil'-style coloured brick decoration......
Walk into the side-streets to enjoy the greenery which many Haarlem residents manage to create despite the lack of front gardens.
Wander along the Spaarne riverside, or along one of the canals, and see what you can see. Haarlem is small enough, and interesting enough, to be an excellent location for a long, leisurely stroll.
I have long been fascinated by the 'name-stones' I've seen on so many older Dutch buildings. They date from times when most of the population was illiterate and, basically, worked as an address for those who could not read. I've discovered that their Dutch name is 'gevelstenen' (gable stones).
The stone tablets often show the profession of the person who owned the house...a cooper, a paper merchant, a wool merchant, a baker.........but can also be religious (saints, for example), animals, locations (such as 'in the wetlands') or pretty much anything the person who commissioned the stone wanted. They are very often painted in bright colours and it is pleasing to see that even the very old ones are often still well-maintained.
Haarlem has its fair share of gevelstenen on its older buildings. They are usually placed about 4 metres up, sometimes over the main doorway but more often to one side or the other.
Spotting the 'name-stones' is just a matter of keeping one's eyes open as one wanders.......
This historic building was designed in 1597 as a Weigh House for grain brought to Haarlem by ship along the adjoining Spaarne River/Canal.
The building is now used as a tavern/restaurant and I believe some of the original weighing equipment remains.
Another example of beautiful work on historic homes in Haarlem. As we continued to walk along the street there were many more buildings worth viewing.
I think this building might have had some association with wine and food.
This very small historic building circa 1624 is squeezed between two much larger buildings.
The Words on the arch "Woonkelder" and also "Toegangspoortje UIT 1624" must indicate the purpose of this building.
What I liked about the building was the beautiful decoration which in those times usually described the purpose of the building or the trade of the owner.
Maybe it was an Almshouse?
We arrived Haarlem Station and walked to the left of the station to enter Jansweg Street (right turn). This street would take us towards the Grote Markt and Cathedral.
On both sides of this street were many historic buildings from around 1600. Most buildings were well preserved and were presently used as business premises or domestic housing. We took many photos of these buildings with most retaining the beautiful decoration above the entrance which indicated the original use of the building.
Hofje van Staats - Jansweg 39
One of the larger hofjes, built in the early 18th century. The old mortuary is now a bicycle shed!
After looking around the Grote Markt we walked past the Haarlem Town Hall (Stadhuis van Haarlem) located at the opposite end of the square from the Grote Kerk. We then turned into the pedestrian walking street with its many fashion shops.
My wife was delighted to see the Gerry Weber store had the sale sign up. I had a quick look inside and said I would be back in 30 minutes and continued walking along the street window shopping. Most retailers were fashion clothes, however there were other retailers that gained my interest such as the Cheese Shop, Coffee Shop etc etc.
Few shots I took of a deserted Haarlem streets, well, it's early in the morning around 11am, so people are sleeping tired from last night.
So if you need a place near Amsterdam that is away and quiet but not too far and transport by train is easy - Haarlem it is.
Haarlem's canal scene was far less crowded than that in Amsterdam, but no less beautiful. I found it amazing that such a long stretch of water could stand so still. Even the detail of the smallest tree branches can be seen on the surface of the canal as clearly as the reflection of the wrought iron railing atop the distant bridge.
Just north of the main Train Station sits a small public pond surrounded with tree-shaded paths. Local residents walked their dogs here throughout the day while the commuters, working in the area, used the park's serenity as a quick lunchtime respite from their jobs. Apparently, the park patrons have nearly all joined in the tradition of offering treats to the many birds that have taken to calling this urban oasis "home." I watched several park visitors and even a few passersby shred loaves of bread or deposit some of their lunchtime reserves at one corner of the pond. So used to this daily ritual, many of the birds have grown to expect such a good life that they would sometimes become indignant when no food was left behind.
This particular bird, in my photo, was always the first to race expectantly up the hill to greet his would be benefactors. Even when his efforts went unrewarded he seemed to never allow himself to be deterred and was always ready to welcome another visitor to the park, time and again.
As I made my way around the winding streets of Haarlem, I couldn't help but develop a true fondness for the small alleyways that branched from many of the larger streets. Probably just wide enough for an old wagon to pass through, these cobblestone paths are lined with modest homes, and each is fronted with a small and simple garden space. What I found most alluring was that in the design of these alleyways, the planner decided that each should be curved in such a way that a person standing at one end of the alley would not be able to see a person standing at the other end. I'm sure this was done in an effort to offer some strategic military defensive advantage, but for me, each of these medieval pathways begged the question: I wonder what?s down there? Needless to say, it took me twice as long as it should have for me to get to where I was going.
These identical looking "guesthouse-houses" used to be twenty in total. Behind these houses there used to be a hospital and guests were...obviously...housed in these nice houses. They were build in 1610 but begining 20th century they were used to expand the hospital and only the façades remained. In 1974 the houses were restored by the Diogenes Hospital Haarlem which is now located somewhere else in the city.
Go and see the streetartists in Haarlem. They are most of the time in the main shoppingstreets on saturdays. There are guitarplayers, fireartists, pianoplayers, orgelplayers and dancers. Everytime there is another artist. In summer there are several, especially in the Grote Houtstreet and the Grote Markt (Big Market, main town square).
When in Haarlem use your eyes, go exploring. It is very easy to find your way about and there are a lot of lovely things to see.
Although Haarlem is a city in it's own right - it almost seems like just a small town and there is somehting nice about that.