Top 10 sights
The city of Hoorn has more than 350 national monuments. That’s far too many to see in a city walk or guided tour through Hoorn. That’s why I made an overview with the top 10 best sights of Hoorn.
Even this selection of sights is too much for one walk or guided tour. But in consultation we can agree together which places and sights we will definitely visit. This selection of places of interest is also a good starting point if you are going to make a city tour on your own.
1. Main Tower
My favorite sight is without doubt the Main Tower. And it’s not only the tower itself but also the surroundings. The tower itself was built in 1532 and originally intended as a defensive tower. At this time Hoorn was a rapidly developing trading town on the Zuiderzee. The semicircular tower has a straight facade on the city side in late Gothic style. On the sea side it has a round wall of 1.5 m thick. Nowadays it houses a restaurant, nice for a dinner in a special historical setting! On a city walk or guided tour through Hoorn I will tell you more about the special history of this tower.
2. Red Stone
The Red Stone (Roode Steen) is the central square of Hoorn and is surrounded by a collection of monuments. On the square you’ll find the weighhouse. This building from 1609 has been used for centuries as a weighing place for goods that were traded on the square. Nowadays there is a restaurant so you also have the opportunity to admire the interior. On the other side of the Roode Steen you can see the Statencollege. This beautiful building from 1632 was originally built for the ‘Committed Councils in West-Friesland and the Noorderkwartier’, the former administration of the area.
Among my favourite sights, the Oostereiland should not be missed. When I take a walk through the city myself, I almost always walk around the Oostereiland. The light, the air, the wind, the sturdy buildings and the view make this place more than worthwhile in both good and bad weather!
The Oosterpoort was built in 1578 and is the only remaining city gate of Hoorn. In 1601 a house was built on top of the Oosterpoort that is still inhabited. The arch bridge was built in 1763 to replace a wooden bridge. At events this bridge with its wrought iron fence is gratefully used as a place to secure your bicycle.
5. Oude Doelenkade
From the ‘Oude Doelenkade’ you have a nice view over the inner harbour, the big sluice-gate and the Hoofdtoren. In the summer the inner harbour is full of pleasure craft, sometimes up to five rows thick! At nos. 17 and 19 there is a couple of beautifully restored 17th century mansions. From n° 27 onwards there is a block of houses with a completely different style than the 17th century town centre. This was built at the beginning of the 20th century and designed by municipal architect Joh. van Reijendam Cz. in a mix of Art Nouveau and Chalet style.
6. Bossu houses
At the Slapershaven on the corner with the Grote Oost are three beautiful houses that were built around 1612. Across their entire width, these buildings are fitted with facing bricks that together form a kind of comic strip about the battle of the Zuiderzee. At this sea battle the West Frisians defeated the Spanish fleet of Admiral Bossu in 1573. Opposite the buildings you see a drawbridge. Here once stood the old Oosterpoort or Prison Gate. It was demolished in 1880. You can still see the foundation.
The Mariatoren (also called ‘Kruittoren’) was built in 1508 as a defensive tower and gunpowder storage. The tower still stands proudly on the old city wall and with its feet in the city canal (the Draafsingel). The tower owes its name to the former Monastery of Mary. This monastery owned the site where the tower was built. In its long history the Mariatoren has had many different functions. She has served as an ice cellar, studio and since 2015 it has been transformed into a bed & breakfast by the Hendrick de Keyser Association.
8. St Jansgasthuis
The St. Jansgasthuis was built in 1563 and was part of a monastery complex. Monasteries took care of the sick at this time and set up guest houses (hospitals). The St. Jansgasthuis is a well-preserved example of the spatial layout of a medieval guesthouse. It served as a hospital for almost 300 years. It then served as a military clothing warehouse, a covered market for butter, a social workshop and now serves as an exhibition space.
The Oosterkerk has its origins in 1450 and was built as a Roman Catholic church for fishermen and skippers. The choir of the present stone church was built in 1519 and subsequently expanded and adapted. Since 1616 the church has had its present form. The church building itself has a beautiful facade, but the biggest attraction of the Oosterkerk is its location, a stone’s throw away from the old inner harbour. From the adjacent street you have a nice view of the tower.
The Baatland is the first large artificial peninsula that was built in Hoorn. The island had to shield the city from the open Zuiderzee. Between 1500 and 1700 it was busy here with houses, workshops and shipyards. Nowadays it is a beautiful green space and part of the Juliana Park. From the Baatland you have a beautiful view of the inner harbour, the large sluice-gate and the Hoofdtoren.