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The Battle on the Zuiderzee.

Hoorn is an old city in the Dutch province of North-Holland. Hoorn is well known in the Netherlands for its rich history. Many of the houses in the historical city centre date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in the area north of the harbour.


According to the Frisian legend, Hoorn was founded as early as 716 AD, only to burn down eight years later and rebuilt some time after that. It's assumed that the 'original' settlement was located in what is now the Markermeer. The oldest remnants of Hoorn to have been found date from around 1200 AD. The town gained its city rights in 1356 or 1357, which gave Hoorn the ability to observe its own laws, and to collect taxes. This made Hoorn into an appealing city for trade, and before long, the city had surpassed every other trade city on the Zuiderzee barring Amsterdam. A lively cloth industry developed in the 15th century, putting cloth on the market that was rivalled by that of cities the like of Leiden, The Hague and Haarlem. The cloth trade, however, stagnated after the Hook and Cod wars (1350 - 1490) and the Guelders Wars (1502 - 1543). This made the city look elsewhere for its income, which was found in the East Sea trade, where grains from Poland and Lithuania was transported and sold in Italy.

Façade of the Bossuhuizen, depicting the Battle on the Zuiderzee.

During the Dutch Revolt, Hoorn chose the side of the reformation and Prince of Orange in 1572, making it an early supporter of that side against the King of Spain, Philips II. In the following year, Hoorn was site to the Battle on the Zuiderzee, in which the Dutch revolters and Geuzen took superiority over the inland sea after destroying the Army of Flanders. This battle and the victory is depicted on the façade of the Bossuhuizen.

Possibly the best-known sea-farer to come from Hoorn, Jan Pieterzoons Coen, though this statue of him on the Rode Steen square is not at all without controversy. On the one hand a celebrated ruler of the Dutch East Indies, but on the other hand frowned upon for his coordination of the massacre of the Banda Islands.

Hoorn flourished in the 16th and 17th century, being one of the cities to hold a seat in the Dutch East India Company. The West India Company and Northern Company were also (partly) based out of Hoorn, and the city shared its minting rights with Enkhuizen. Hoorn additionally was the seat of power for the Noorderkwartier en West-Friesland, making it the formal capital north of the river IJ. Hoorn additionally gave rise to some household names when it comes to sea-faring, albeit some that are controversial figures in the modern-day. Hoorn's role in the so-called Dutch Empire is still evident in the places and ships named for it, first and foremost Cape Horn (Dutch: Kaap Hoorn).

The 18th century brought stagnation to Hoorn once more. The harbours had filled with sediment, and ships instead docked in Amsterdam or Zaandam, which was where the ships were typically built as well. This all came to a head at the start of the French period of the Netherlands. The old town hall was torn down, and Hoorn lost its position as a capital, as the Noorderkwartier was merged into a singular province by the name of Holland. When in 1810 Holland was split into two, the new capital of North Holland instead became Haarlem. Hoorn however, persevered and found some new riches in the cheese market, growing itself out to host the largest cheese market of North Holland. Hoorn also saw itself become a garrisoned city and an important railway junction. Informally, Hoorn came to function as a capital city again, though it shared many of those tasks with Alkmaar. In 2021, Hoorn is home to almost 74,000 people, a fair share of which commute to their work in mostly Alkmaar and Amsterdam.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

From Amsterdam or Schiphol Airport, Hoorn can be reached by taking the A10, the A8 and then the A7.

By train[edit]

Hoorn has two train stations, both of which are serviced by NS. The main train station, serving the city centre, is 1 Hoorn  IC  SPR  Hoorn railway station on Wikipedia. The other station, 2 Hoorn Kersenboogerd  SPR , serves mostly the east of the city, which is mostly suburban in nature.

Intercity services from NS between Hoorn and Amsterdam Centraal run every half hour, taking just over half an hour to connect the two, and only stopping at Amsterdam Sloterdijk along the way. From Schiphol, your journey will take you to Amsterdam Centraal to use the aforementioned service, or directly via a Sprinter (stopping train) service to Hoorn Kersenboogerd. The first option takes about 50 minutes, the later three quarters of an hour.

By boat[edit]

Most of the year, river boats visit the city's harbour. The harbour is at the city center, which makes the museums and old city accessible by foot.

Get around[edit]

Map of Hoorn

Overal and EBS operate local buses throughout the area.



Hoorn's compact medieval centre is home to too many beautiful late medieval buildings to mention. Within walking distance of each other you can find:

  • 1 Hoofdtoren, Hoofd 17-3. The last surviving remnants of Hoorn's former city defences. The tower's name translates into English as "Main Tower", though only the last part is correct. The "Hoofd" instead comes from the nearby jetty named "Houten Hoofd". Its name therefore is better translated as "Tower (at the Land's) Head". The Hoofdtoren was completed in 1532 and lost its defensive use in 1614, after which the Noordsche Compagnie (Northern Company), an early trading company of the Netherlands, which made its profits from whaling around Greenland and Jan Mayen, operated out of the building. After the Northern Company, the clothmakers' guild was based in the tower. The tower has been recognised as a monument for almost 60 years, and now houses a restaurant. Hoofdtoren (Q2197183) on Wikidata
  • 2 Oosterkerk (Eastern Church), Grote Oost 58-60, +31 229 217 909, . A Gothic church dating back to the mid-15th century, though the modern building dates back to 1616. The church was built as a Roman Catholic church, but became a Dutch Reformed church after the reformation. The church became disused in the 1960s, was threatened with demolition, but eventually found new usage as a multifunctional venue. Church services are still held in the building, though only on Sundays. Oosterkerk (Q2024858) on Wikidata Oosterkerk (Hoorn) on Wikipedia
  • 3 Oosterpoort (Eastern Gate), Oosterpoort 1. The last remaining city gate of Hoorn. This gate, built in 1578 is located on the "Draafsingel" canal which was dug the year prior. The gate replaced the earlier First Eastern Gate, which had served the city since at least 1426. In 1601 the small house on top of the gate was added. Until 1957, the Eastern Gate was the only way into the city centre from the east of the city, but it has since been closed to motor traffic. Oosterpoort (Q2657800) on Wikidata
  • 4 Statenlogement (State Lodigings), Nieuwstraat 23. Built in 1613, the State Lodgings housed guests for the sittings of the College of the Commissioned Council of the Northern Quarter and West-Frisia, the members of which are represented on the double-faced front of the building, them being Medemblik, Edam, Alkmaar, Hoorn, Enkhuizen, Monnickendam and Purmerend. It served this function until the fall of the establishment of the Batavian Republic in 1796. From then until 1977, the building served as town hall of Hoorn. Nowadays, the building is a wedding venue and is used by the municipality for official receptions. Statenlogement (Q2702052) on Wikidata
  • Statencollege (State College). The State College is where the aforementioned Commissioned Council of the Northern Quarter and West-Frisia held its meetings and debates. The building was constructed in 1632, replacing the "Proostenhuys" that stood there until the year before, and which housed the provost, the representative of the bishop of Utrecht. The adjacent alleyway (Proostensteeg) reminds of this function. Nowadays, the former college houses the Westfries Museum.
  • 5 Waag (Weighing House). The Weighing House was built in 1609, and features a façade statue of a vermilion unicorn with the crest of the city. The building is the centrepiece of the cheese market that has been held here since the second half of the 17th century. Hoorn at that point was decreasing as a harbour city of note, but instead rose to a more prominent role as a trade city. At its peak, the Hoorn cheese market saw some 3,000,000 kilograms (6,600,000 lb) of cheese being traded per year. The market, however, eventually was discontinued in the 20th century. The weighing house has since seen usage as a venue for a drawing school, but has for some time now been in use as a grand café. Waag (Q2189876) on Wikidata







Go next[edit]

About 15 km east of Hoorn lies the equally picturesque city of Enkhuizen. A little further to the north is Medemblik.

Routes through Hoorn
GroningenBolsward  N  S  BeemsterAmsterdam

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