Haarlem is a city and municipality in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland and is situated at the edge of the Randstad. Haarlem had a population of 155,758 in 2014 and it is a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam, and many residents commute to the countrys capital for work. Haarlem was granted city status or stadsrechten in 1245, although the first city walls were not built until 1270, the modern city encompasses the former municipality of Schoten as well as parts that previously belonged to Bloemendaal and Heemstede. Apart from the city, the municipality of Haarlem also includes the part of the village of Spaarndam. Newer sections of Spaarndam lie within the municipality of Haarlemmerliede en Spaarnwoude. The city is located on the river Spaarne, about 20 km west of Amsterdam and it has been the historical centre of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries and bears the nickname Bloemenstad, for this reason. Haarlem has a history dating back to pre-medieval times, as it lies on a thin strip of land above sea level known as the strandwal. The people on this strip of land struggled against the waters of the North Sea from the west, and the waters of the IJ. Haarlem became wealthy with toll revenues that it collected from ships, however, as shipping became increasingly important economically, the city of Amsterdam became the main Dutch city of North Holland during the Dutch Golden Age. The town of Halfweg became a suburb, and Haarlem became a bedroom community. Nowadays many of them are on the Dutch Heritage register known as Rijksmonuments, the list of Rijksmonuments in Haarlem gives an overview of these per neighbourhood, with the majority in the old city centre. The oldest mentioning of Haarlem dates from the 10th century, the name probably comes from Haarlo-heim. This name is composed of three elements, haar, lo and heim, there is not much dispute about the meaning of lo and heim, in Old Dutch toponyms lo always refers to forest and heim to home or house. Haar, however, has several meanings, one of them corresponding with the location of Haarlem on a sand dune, the name Haarlem or Haarloheim would therefore mean home on a forested dune. There was a stream called De Beek, dug from the peat grounds west of the river Spaarne as a drainage canal, over the centuries the Beek was turned into an underground canal, as the city grew larger and the space was needed for construction. Over time it began to silt up and in the 19th century it was filled in, the location of the village was a good one, by the river Spaarne, and by a major road going south to north. By the 12th century it was a town, and Haarlem became the residence of the Counts of Holland
Grote Kerk ("Great Church") on the Grote Markt, Haarlem's central square
Topographic map image of Haarlem (city), March 2014
City Hall on the Grote Markt, built in the 14th century, replacing the Count's castle, after this had burnt down partially. The remainders were given to the city.
Sketch of the siege of Haarlem seen from the North, with Het Dolhuys on the right, and the river Spaarne on the left