We arrived in the Netherlands this morning and took a bus to Haarlem, which will be our home-base for 3 days. We’re staying in a small hotel (Stempels) in a building that was used from 1737-1940 as a printing press and later as a mint to print bank-notes and stamps. The location is ideal – a 5-minute walk to the bus to the airport, a 10-minute walk to the train to Amsterdam, and right next to the Grote Kirk (Great Church) and Grote Markt (central market square).
Here’s the view of the Grote Kirk from our room:
Other than a short nap to make up for losing a night of sleep en route, we spent the day poking around Haarlem on foot (logging 14400 steps per my pedometer app). Haarlem is beautiful, quaint, non-touristy, and easy to explore.
The Grote Kerk was the highlight. It was built over a 150-year period (1390-1540) to replace an even earlier church that burned down in 1328. Originally a Catholic church, it was converted to a Protestant church in the late 1500s.
Here’s the fan-vaulted cedar ceiling:
On the barrier surrounding the original choir (worship area), there are two wooden carvings of “pillar biters”, apparently to remind overly devout Catholics (“more Catholic than even the pope”) not to go overboard in their devotion:
The most impressive part of the Grote Kerk is a magnificent, 5,000-pipe organ, completed in 1738, and apparently played by a young Mozart in 1766 at the end of a three-year tour of Europe:
Here are some of my other favorite shots from today.
The De Adriaan windmill, originally built in 1779, burned down in 1932, rebuilt in 2002:
A few of the many interesting buildings, some of which lean noticeably. The first one below was built in 1692 on one of the canals for a merchant, and includes a pully at the top to hoist goods up the storage in the attic:
Canals and very low bridges:
A cheese shop:
The (really fresh) mint tea that we enjoyed on a break:
… and my favorite urban-art photographer: