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Haarlem History, Netherlands

Haarlem History – Early Settlement and Development

The history of Haarlem dates back to the 10th century and its name origin is very meaningful, as it shows how most Dutch contemporary cities started being built. The name comes from “Haarlo-heim”, which means “piece of land higher than others around it”, and the best defense the early settlement had was to build some walls made out of earth and dig a canal around the city. It led quite a prosperous existence until it was decimated by three consecutive fires that destroyed all the houses, which were made of wood, and by the Black Death, which came in 1381 and killed about 5000 people, half of that day’s population. What followed was a period when the beer and textile industry started developing and Haarlem became the most important city in historical Holland, leaving behind even the historical port of Rotterdam.

Haarlem History – The Spanish Siege

The year 1572 was a major turning point in the history of Haarlem, as it was the period when the seven month siege by the Spanish started and the town remained under their occupation. The authorities in nearby Amsterdam who were faithful to the Spanish king started depriving Haarlem form any outside trade, practically isolating it. Hunger grew in the city and the constant fighting for territory took many lives over the years. After seven months, the Spanish retired under the condition that the people in Haarlem sign a treaty concerning Catholic religious principles. An enormous fire destroyed the city in 1576 and the town was granted all possession of the Catholic monuments in compensation for its huge loss. This gave it a new financial impulse and soon it started developing faster and faster.

Haarlem History – The Golden Age

The city began flourishing because they specialized in various industries which made them world famous, including the silk and linen industry and beer brewing. By 1620, the city already had over 100 breweries and provided beer for all north Holland. The tulip bulbs were their best business, as enormous sums were paid for their unique types of bulbs so more and more money came into the city assuring a fast infrastructure development and population growth. The first canal in the country was built during this period and it connected Haarlem to Amsterdam. Evidence and legacies of all these activities still remain in the city and the atmosphere still breaths the wealth enjoyed by Harlem in this period.

Haarlem History – The Modern Era

Competition in means of production soon made Harlem lose its supremacy in its historical businesses, as a result the population was quite poor. The biggest boost the city got was from the building of a new steam railway that connected it to Amsterdam and turned the journey into a thirty minute one instead of two hours. New development started in both the industrial and residential areas and Haarlem became the first city in Holland to run an electric tram in 1899.

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  • adamHaarlem
    review by adam posted more then 30 days ago
    Haarlem is a small town, situated near Amsterdam about 20 km from the Dutch capital. It is know for it's rich history, beautiful architecture and it's prominent market square. The Sint-Bavokerk is the symbol of the city which lies also at the market square. Once a former catholic...
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