Haarlem: the perfect marriage of old and new

From the moment it received city rights in 1245, Haarlem grew into one of the most important cities in Holland. Today, the city has a lot to offer, and when it comes to art, fashion and culture, visitors will be enchanted not only by its perfectly well-preserved glorious past, but also by its innovation and forward thinking.

The name Haarlem[FvI1] is said to have been derived from the words sandy soil, forest and settlement, and its advantageous location near the river Spaarne contributed greatly to its flourishing. The city, as well as the municipality by the same name, are known for their legacies in the brewing, shipbuilding and cloth industry between the 14th and 19th centuries, and for its large group of rich and powerful middle class in the Golden Age. Its 1839 railway line to Amsterdam (the first Dutch railway line) improved infrastructure helped to develop new companies, such as the Droste chocolate factory.

But even the persistent economic recession during the 15th and 16th century, a brewery fire in 1576 (which destroyed a fifth of the city) and the city’s unfortunate deterioration at the end of the 17th century have made the city into what it is in the present day.

Whether sauntering the Golden Streets, getting lost in the hidden courtyards (hofjes), examining the masterworks of Frans Hals, or marvelling at the church organ in the St. Bavo Church cathedral once played by Mozart, visitors can choose from a plethora of things to do. Let’s have a look at some examples.


Since Menno Post, former chef at two-star Michelin restaurant De Bokkedoorns, opened the doors of Olivijn[FvI2] in July 2018, diners have been able to experience top-of-the-range gastronomy in a homely atmosphere, and have dishes prepared to personal taste. Olivijn was described by the Haarlem City Blog in September 2018 as ‘a pearl of a restaurant’, and constantly changing local art on the walls adds a contemporary touch to the 17th-century building, one of the oldest of the city.

Japanese-Peruvian Nikkei cuisine, a testimony to the many Japanese restaurants that can be found in Peru, is at the heart of the ‘Maita experience’ in Haarlem. This type of cooking is known for its eye-catching colours and full-bodied tastes. Luckily for the people of Haarlem (or ‘Muggen’ (Mosquitos) as they are known locally, for reasons only known in many different legends), Maita[FvI3] is said to be the first restaurant that brings these new bold flavours to the Netherlands.

For those in search of something quintessentially Italian, at Back to Basics[FvI4] diners can expect real Neapolitan pizzas in an authentic pizza oven, as well as other Italian dishes, made with organic ingredients, and Italian wines. The family-run restaurant was described in 2014 by the Haarlems Dagblad as ‘hartveroverend’ (heart-warming), and father Francesco allegedly once earned the title of best pizza baker in the country!


For anyone in search of something different when it comes to jewellery, Haarlem is the right place.

At Screw-u-rings[FvI5], previous-local-judge-turned-goldsmith Ariane Medze makes her own designs with sterling silver, gemstones, olive wood and French porcelain. Her creations are inspired by her father’s toolbox; whether rings, pendants or cufflinks, each design includes a screw so that a different look can easily be created.

Elsewhere, Marijke Mul[FvI6], who once earned the title of youngest independent jeweller of the Netherlands, designs her own collections. In addition, her tailor-made jewellery is based on someone’s personality, story or emotion. For example, clients can order bespoke wedding rings made with a personal fingerprint.

Over at Mens Goudsmederij[FvI7]-Bernard Coster, visitors can find handmade jewellery made of gold, silver and titanium, or get items restored or repaired. At Henny[FvI8] Soesbergen, jewellery has been lovingly made with organic forms inspired by nature and landscapes, such as a horizon or the sea.

Food and drink

It is said that Mr. F. Okhuysen[FvI9] already ran a wine trade in Haarlem in 1862, and wine store Okhuysen itself is worth a visit, if just for the beautiful handwritten transporter instruction notes. The 1874 example requested the transporter to ‘be so good as to not ship red wine in weather below zero’. Today, visitors can expect wine classes and tasting, and atmospheric wine cellars.

Liquid[FvI10] Gold Speciaalslijterij is worth a visit for anyone fancying themselves a tipple in Haarlem, with 800 types of whiskey, many types of high-quality brandy, Armagnac and Calvados, as well as a large assortment of liqueurs and gins from world-renowned Dutch distilleries such as Zuidam Distillers, Rutte & Zn. and Graanbranderij de IJsvogel.

Tea My[FvI11] Dear describes itself as a ‘cheerful shop’: a place where visitors can take some time out to discover teas made of fruits, blossoms, spices and herbs, such as the hand-picked teas from Betjeman & Barton, as well as handmade tea ware collections from Japan, England or Denmark.

Haarlem visitors in search of some genuine Italian products should head over to Sogno[FvI12] Di Pasta, or ‘Dream of Pasta,’ where fresh organic pasta is made each morning. A fine selection of olive oils is sourced from the best Italian regions, such as Liguria, Sicily and Tuscany, to help customers re-live a special Italian memory they may have.

Fashion and design

At Vintage Curators[FvI13] new fashion designs sparkle among vintage pieces. Each item is carefully sourced, nationally and further afield, on quality and uniqueness, and owner Marije Cnossen’s mission to ‘work with what there is’ provides a personal answer to today’s materialistic abundance.

In a similar light, the Bellamy[FvI14] Gallery works directly with factories within Europe, circumventing the need for ‘unnecessary links to the customer.’ So, visitors can opt to ‘buy better, not more,’ and find affordable high-quality fashion for men, women and children, from 4 years old up to size XXL.

At Olivia[FvI15] & Kate, where owner Janina Pakasi likes to work with Dutch designers, visitors can peruse brands such as Catwalk Junkie, Oeuvre, Sisters Point, Club Manhattan, Nova Dali and My Interior Musthaves. Staff are on hand for specialist advice, and other than clothing there is an abundance of notebooks, jewellery, pillows, photo frames and postcards for a ‘complete lifestyle’.

Pieterszoon[FvI16]’s very own designs of men and women’s handmade leather bags, rucksacks, clutches and purses, produced with leather mostly from a Dutch tanner, make their way to retailers and design shows throughout the Netherlands and Europe. The two sisters and creators Jennifer and Cher Pietersz, who create a new collection every year, are on site for handy advice.

Arts and culture

Visitors of the ‘Museum van de Verwondering’ Teylers museum[FvI17] have been bewitched by artefacts from the fields of arts, natural history and science since 1784, making it the oldest museum of the Netherlands. Teylers museum today offers machines, fossils, historic books and coins, as well as a unique collection of Dutch masters. In addition, its richly decorated façade on the Spaarne River, and the distinct silhouette of the special roof above the halls along the Nieuwe Appelsteeg, are considered of great value to Haarlem’s protected cityscape.

In 2018 the Frans Hals[FvI18] Museum merged with De Hallen Haarlem to form one museum at two locations. With its three buildings (Vleeshal, Vishuisje and Verweyhal), the location Hal has been referred to as an architectural ‘hutspot’ (stew); whereas the Hof location was once a home for ‘old gentlemen’. Between them they make for an interesting little walk through a historic part of Haarlem. What’s more, at the museum a Frans Hals-headed internationally-renowned 17th-century collection merges seamlessly with contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries.

At the ‘museum of the mind’ in the 700-year-old Dolhuys[FvI19] (a 16th-century former mental institution for ‘dollen’ or ‘madmen’) visitors can expect to ponder over the word ‘normal. Interactive exhibits on psychiatry are designed to lift the veil off some of the troubled minds of writers, scientists and artists such as Vincent van Gogh, whose own battle with life enriched his art.

With the right conditions, Molen De Adriaan[FvI20] can be seen in action with its rotating blades cleaving through the sky, always a breath-taking experience. A 30-60 minutes tour takes guests through all the elements and intricacies that make up the workings of this unique example of a Dutch windmill. The Adriaan is built on the remains of the Goê Vrouwtoren, an old defence tower, and during the tour, visitors can learn about settlements along the river Spaarne.

Living & Lifestyle

My Deer Art[FvI21] Shop provides a happy home to collections of art, furniture, jewellery, ceramics, books and textiles, as well as garments from both established and up-and-coming designers from around the world. Interior designer Maaike Koster carefully selects everything that goes into her lifestyle and interior shop.

Bruno Klassiek[FvI22] , which presents itself as one of the country’s most specialised shops for classical music on CD and vinyl, is located in one of the oldest shop buildings in Haarlem, the 17th-century home of Vincent van der Vinne, a pupil of Frans Hals. Visitors should also keep an eye out for Haarlem[FvI23] Klassiek in the Doopsgezinde Kerk, a co-production concert series.

At Giftshop White Box[FvI24] Living guests can find anything from ceramics, crockery, art prints and books to all kinds of uniquely-designed products. All items are made locally or within Europe, and the store’s focus is on ecological accountability and efficiency, social wellbeing, sleek and simple design, as well as up-and-coming design talent. This store aims to put a smile on your face.

Useful links

[FvI1] History Haarlem


[FvI2] Kleine Houtstraat 70, 2011 DR Haarlem

[FvI3] Lange Veerstraat 45, 2011 DA Haarlem

[FvI4] pizzeriabacktobasics.nl

[FvI5] screw-u-rings.nl/

[FvI6] Gierstraat 67 2011 GB Haarlem

[FvI7] Schagchelstraat 36 2011hz haarlem centrum

[FvI8] Schagchelstraat 20 2011 HX Haarlem

[FvI9] okhuysen.nl

[FvI10] Koningstraat 33 2011 TC Haarlem

[FvI11] Kleine Houtstraat 16 2011 DM Haarlem

[FvI12] Sogno di Pasta – Zijlstraat 59 – Haarlem

[FvI13] Kleine Houtstraat 20, Haarlem

[FvI14] Anegang 28 2011HS HAARLEM

[FvI15] Anegang 48 2011 HS Haarlem

[FvI16] Kleine Houtstraat 36
2011 DN Haarlem

[FvI17]Spaarne 16 2011CH Haarlem

[FvI18] Frans Hals Museum
Groot Heiligland 62, 2011 ES Haarlem

[FvI19] [FvI19]Schotersingel 2, 2021 GE Haarlem www.hetdolhuys.nl

[FvI20] Papentorenvest 1-A  2011 AV

[FvI21] Schagchelstraat 12 2011 HX Haarlem

[FvI22] Gierstraat 50 2011 GE Haarlem

[FvI23] haarlemklassiek.nl/concerten

[FvI24] Kleine Houtstraat 35 2011 DE Haarlem