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.