Things to see in Hoorn..
Hoorn transformed from a small town to a key player in the Dutch Golden Age.
The waterside town was founded in 716. In 1356, Hoorn received its official city rights, which rapidly fueled its growth as a trade city. Due to its strategic location and access to trade routes, Hoorn became a center of importance to the Dutch East India Company (VOC), whose main focus was the trade in commodities such as pepper, nutmeg and cloves. Hoorn played a crucial role in the existence of the so-called Dutch Golden Age, a time of prosperity and wealth. Today, you can still see and feel that wealth the city echoed to the rest of the world back in those days, with impressive historical facades, stunning architecture, marvelous museums and picturesque harbors. Sightseeing in Hoorn is a great way to spend the day.
Sightseeing in Hoorn..
Being the main square in Hoorn, the ‘Roode Steen’ is a site you don’t want to miss. The centrally located square is the crossroad from several shopping streets to the city’s harbors. On the ‘Roode Steen’, you can also find the ‘Westfries Museum’ and the statue of ‘Jan Pieterszoon Coen’. Literally translated in ‘Red Stone’ this particular place got its name from the many executions that happened on the square. Next to the statue of Jan Pieterszoon Coen a large red stone is a silent witness of the past.
Renowned for cheese trading which lasted for many years, ‘de Waag’ is a piece of history you shouldn’t miss when you visit the main city square (Roode Steen). ‘De Waag’ was built in 1609 and gained importance when the import levels reached historical lows. ‘De Waag’ was used as the main building for the Cheese Markets in Hoorn and it was the place where cheese was weighted under strict supervision. In its peak year, more than 3 million kilograms of cheese were traded in the cheese markets in Hoorn. Nowadays ‘De Waag’ welcomes gastronomy lovers from all over the world. The old cheese market location is transformed in a restaurant and cafe, not surprisingly named ‘De Oude Waegh’.
A sight you can’t ignore when strolling through the main harbor of Hoorn is ‘de Hoofdtoren’. Named after the dock, ‘Houten Hoofd’, which is directly located behind the large defense tower. ‘De Hoofdtoren’ is the main defense tower of Hoorn and was used between 1532 and 1614. Today, you can still enter the tower, and a restaurant is located on its top floor.
As the only remaining city gate of Hoorn, the ‘Oosterpoort’ is a real piece of history to behold. The gate was first built in 1578, and about 30 years later, the gate was expanded and a little house was built upon it. The gate is located next to the ‘Draafsingel’, a canal which was dug for defense purposes to protect the city center. Today, the gate blends in perfectly with everyday life and many locals use it on a daily basis to enter or leave the city center.
The ‘Statenlogement’ was built in 1613 and on its façade, you can find the city arms of Medemblik, Edam, Alkmaar, Hoorn, Enkhuizen, Monnickendam and Purmerend. The ‘Statenlogement’ was used as a hotel for very important guests who participated in meetings of the Board of the Noorderkwartier and West-Friesland. Till 1977, it served as the town hall. Nowadays, this beautiful building hosts most marriages.
One of the first hospitals in Hoorn is the St. Jansgasthuis. As a monastery, it was the only place that accommodated pilgrims and travelers. That’s where the name ‘Gasthuis’, literally translated ‘Guest House’, comes from. The rooms which were not occupied by travelers where used to accommodate the sick and the weak. Over the years, St. Jansgasthuis became increasingly filled to a point where it was difficult to still offer proper health care.
‘De Koepelkerk’ got its name from the large dome. The church opened for religious services in 1882. Due to the limited amount of land available, the majority of the church is actually not visible and you will also immediately observe that the entrances are small compared to the actual size of the church. You have a great view on the dome from the main square, the ‘Roode Steen’.
Located on ‘de Kleine Noord’, the ‘Noorderkerk’ is one of the last medieval churches that remained in its original form. The church was built in 1426 and the current church replaced the original wooden chapel.
‘Scheepsjongens van de Bontekoe’
‘De Scheepsjongens van de Bontekoe’ or ‘Bontekoe’s Cabin Boys’ is a story written by Johan Fabricius and is inspired by the journals of Willem Bontekoe. The story is about three cabin boys: Padde, Hajo and Rolf, who were the cabin boys of skipper WIllem Bontekoe. The boys joined Willem Bontekoe on his ship ‘Nieuw Hoorn’, destined for Dutch India. Padde caused a fire on the ship which led to a massive explosion. Only 70 out of 200 crew members survived the incident. They continued their journey to Sumatra for more adventures to come. In 2007, a movie with the same title was released.
Jan Pieterszoon Coen
Jan Pieterszoon Coen, born in Hoorn in 1587, was an officer of the Dutch East India Company and was assigned to establish a monopoly for the company. Jan Pieterszoon Coen was known for his ruthlessness; a bad habit which he put into practice when slaughtering local traders in 1621 because they sold their goods to the English. Jan Pieterszoon Coen is also known as the founder of ‘Bataviastad’, which he initially wanted to call ‘Nieuw Hoorn’. Today, Jan Pieterszoon Coen is still at the center of discussion because activists, considering his cruel actions, question the legitimacy of his statue in Hoorn.
Het Park Schouwburg (theatre)
‘Het Park’ is the official name of the theatre in Hoorn, which is located at the edge of the city with a beautiful view over the IJsselmeer. The building is recognizable by its unique roof color and shape. While the building was officially opened by the queen in 2004, it had to overcome a major setback when the building completely collapsed in 2001 due to a technical error. During the year, you can visit this location for a wide variety of shows; from musicals over concerts to stand-up comedy. If you plan to visit Hoorn, check out their website and make sure you book your tickets in advance.
De Grote Kerk & Kerkplein
‘Het Kerkplein’ literally means ‘Church Square’, where the ‘Grote Kerk’ is located on the square. ‘Het Kerkplein’ is, next to the ‘Roode Steen’, the second most famous square in Hoorn. The ‘Grote Kerk’ is built in 1881 and has a height of 60 meters. On the ‘Kerkplein’, you can also find the ‘St. Jansgasthuis’.
Hoorn Train Station
If you plan to visit Hoorn by public transport, you will most likely end up at the main station of Hoorn, which is located in the city center. While Hoorn has two railway stations, the main and centrally located station is its most important station and was built in 1883. From the main station, trains depart to Amsterdam, Alkmaar and Enkhuizen. Furthermore, you can take buses to nearby cities such as Medemblik.
The main harbor of Hoorn is the ‘binnenhaven’, which holds a very important place in the city’s history. As a key destination in the Dutch Golden Age, the ‘binnenhaven’ was the center of trade. With the arrival of large ships such as the ‘Bontekoe’, it became an important place for business. The harbor holds some of the most beautiful warehouses in traditional style with impressive facades.
Just around the corner of the main harbor and next to Oostereiland, you can find the ‘Grashaven’. More efficient than the old city harbor and a lot more structured, the ‘Grashaven’ is mostly used by boat owners, usually locals and visitors to the city.