Frans Hals Museum Haarlem has the largest collection of Frans Hals paintings in the world. It is a former ‘old men’s house’ built in 1608. There are fourteen paintings of his hand on display, including his famous civic guard paintings. Due to religious persecution during the Eighty Years’ War, Frans Hals came to Haarlem as one of the many Flemish refugees. Frans Hals (1582-1666) became one of the most famous portrait painters of his time. Among his greatest works are the portraits of the militia’s, similar to Rembrandt’s works. He was able to suggest movement and detail with a single, rough stroke of the brush, and because of his special use of colors. He is sometimes referred to as ‘the first impressionist’. Vincent van Gogh admired his modernist style.
Hofjes, little courtyards, were a form of private care for the elderly who were still able to live independently. In the Middle Ages, these hofjes almshouses haarlem were intended for the real poor. Later, courtyards were also built for the bourgeois class who paid entrance fees. Haarlem has even two courtyards that were built in the 21st century and this makes Haarlem a real hofjes city. There are still about 20 hofjes and therefore a walk through the city is very worthwhile. The smallest hofje in Haarlem, the ‘Hofje van Guurtje de Waal’, dating from 1616 was founded by the family of a wealthy textile merchant. It was intended for Reformed spinsters. The Frans Loenenhofje was founded in 1607 as housing for elderly women. Loenen had built up a lot of wealth with betting and trading. “He who has lived in the shelter has lived well.” The courtyard is inhabited by older ladies. Opposite the Frans Hals Museum you will find former ‘guest houses’. The houses were built between 1608 and 1612 by order of the directors of the nearby St. Elizabeth Hospital. Elderly people who had some savings bought themselves in and had shelter and care until the end of their lives. This was a more commercial set-up than the almshouses.
Namesake of the old Saint Bavo church, but completely different is the New Bavo Cathedral Haarlem. This is a three-aisled cruciform basilica from the end of the 19th century. This dome cathedral in Haarlem is unique and with the Sagrada Familia, the Sacré-Coeur, the Westminster Cathedral it is in the top five of the most important new churches in the world built in the 19th and 20th centuries. The mighty cathedral has 12 towers and a 65 meter high dome. The cathedral contains architectural styles such as neo-Gothic, neo-Romanesque, Jugendstil and style elements of the Amsterdam School and Berlage. Large windows, glittering mosaics and reflective materials: everything in this basilica is dominated by light. The sunlight is an important part of the architecture.
Named after the dam in the river Spaarne and dating from 1285 is Spaarnedam Haarlem. The village lived from fishing and there is even an eel smokehouse still active. A toll was raised and the village was strategically important for Amsterdam. Therefore two fortresses were built as part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam. A touristic highlight is the statue of Hans Brinker, who protected the land from a flood with just one finger in the dike. The story is of American origin, the Dutch doubt whether it is true.
Jopenkerk is a former church, where you don’t come to pray, but to drink Jopen beer. A visit to Haarlem as a beer lover also means that you have to go to the Jopenkerk beer Haarlem brewery. Because many churches are empty nowadays, it was converted into a brewery a few years ago. A pallet of various Jopen beers is brewed and there are experiments with flavours, herbs and ingredients. The most special beers are: -‘Jopen Nuts for Chocolate’ is a blond beer with roasted almonds and cocoa. ‘Jopen Sin & Remorse’ is a very dark, heavy stout with a strong aroma of coffee, cocoa and chocolate. ‘Jopen Wayne’s world’ is a blond beer, with a clear citrus smell and taste. It is a slightly sour beer. Homemade, and typically Dutch, bitterballen prepared in their own beer are served.