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HOORN

A brief history of the city of Hoorn

Somewhere around 1300 AD farmers and fishermen founded the tiny village of Hoorn, strategically located in a bend on the Westfrisian coast where the Gouw River met the old Zuiderzee, now called IJsselmeer. By 1357 the place was already of such importance that it was given city-rights by Count Willem V. In 1426 walls were build to protect the city. The walls included four gates, from which only one survives today. As more merchants and bargemen moved into the place the town slowly grew bigger and bigger. In 1573 it became the capital of West-Frisia when, after a fierce battle right on its doorstep, a local fleet under the leadership of Cornelis Dirksz had defeated a large Spanish fleet under the command of the Count of Bossu. This was a turning point in the war of independence against Spain.

Ten years later the city minted its own coins, the Westfrisian Rijksdaalder. For Hoorn and its citizens a period of great prosperity had begun and the city now put all its attention to the sea. The harbour was largely extended and business with the Atlantic coast, the Mediterranean, the Baltic states and the Far East bloomed. Hoorn soon became one of the six founding cities of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), the worlds first multinational company. Ships loaded with spices, tea, coffee, sugar, wheat, silk, cotton, copper and indigo returned from all over the world, as far as South-America and the Arctic Ocean, where whales were hunted for oil. Around 1650 stagnation set in and a century later the city fell into decline. By the end of the French occupation (1795-1813) the population had dropped to a mere 7,500 and the once proud city looked like a disorganised village. But slowly it recovered and today the city booms again with a population of around 70,000. Many of the old buildings have survived and others were restored to their former splendour.

 

Nowadays thousands of tourists from all over the world flock to this historical city, which not only offers the visitor a unique feel of its glorious past, but good shopping and great watersport facilities as well. The  latest, and very striking, addition to the town is a brand-new Theatre House right on its waterfront. 

Hoorn is located only 35 km. north of Amsterdam and is easily accessible by train, bus or boat. All sights in the city can be covered on foot in less than a day. 

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