Haarlem is the capital of the province of North Holland and its second biggest city in this province. In his war against the Calvinist Reformation in 1568, Protestants threated by the impending inquisition fled Antwerp and many settled in Haarlem. As a result Haarlem underwent an almost complete economic and social transformation, becoming an important scene for industrial (textile) and artistic development, and in the 1600s, artists, merchants and traders flocked to the city, tripling its population and placing Haarlem at the heart of the Dutch Golden Age. Flemish artists from the south of Holland and Belgium flocked here, where, struck by the city’s beauty, they began to produce some of the most innovative, iconic art of the Golden Age — work which took Dutch art to new heights as artists such as Frans Halos, sought to reflect the beauty of their new surroundings. Today Haarlem is a dynamic city with charming streets, a vibrant shopping area and beautiful churches. During your city walk you’ll pass beautiful gable houses on canals while your guide explains the history of Haarlem and the Netherlands. The Grote Markt (Market Square), is the town’s delightful centerpiece… as it has been for 700 years. Located on the square, Haarlem’s Town Hall has been the site of the city's government since about 1100.
Another highlight of your tour will be to St. Bavo Cathedral. The Gothic church with its soaring tower and magnificent stained glass windows is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Frans Hals is buried here, and it is also home to one of the world’s most historically important organs built by Christian Müller (an Amsterdam organ builder). Upon completion it was the world’s largest pipe organ and attracted such famous musicians as Mozart, Händel and Mendelssohn.
The weather in the lowlands can change rapidly so bring umbrella and sunscreen.