Sights and monuments Hoorn
Among the sights in the center of Hoorn there are 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 a shortlist with the top 10 best sights to see in 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. Roode Steen
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 Hoorn, 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. From the Baatland you have a beautiful view of one of the top sights of Hoorn: The Hoofdtoren ( Main Tower)!
Out on your own or a guided tour with Alette?
With a little preparation you can make a beautiful walk through Hoorn. Everywhere there are signs and in the center almost all streets are worth exploring. But the city really comes to life through the stories about its history and its inhabitants.
There are four important reasons for booking a tour: (1) we choose the best routes along the most beautiful sights and monuments of Hoorn, (2) I tell you the stories from behind the facades such as the story about the unusual love affair between the wealthy widow van Foreest and her house servant, (3) you don’t have to worry about anything. I’ll make sure we’re back in time, and (4) a guided tour is especially fun!
Top 10 sights Hoorn on the map
More More sights and monuments in Hoorn
The Sint-Pietershof is a former old men’s and women’s home, located on the ‘Dal’. Both the main building and the courtyard are still in use as residential complexes for the elderly. Construction began in 1617 on the site where the ‘Sint-Pietersdal’ monastery had been built (1457). The building was constructed in stages.In 1692 the 230-year-old church of the former monastery was demolished, in its place the present main wing at the ‘Dal’ was built. Over the centuries the complex has been modified and expanded, but much of it is still original.
The Claes Stapelhof was founded in 1682 as a residential court for elderly women who could no longer run their household independently and could not live with their families.This residential court was founded by the merchants Koekebacker and Bos and by the notary Claes Stapel. The houses are from different construction periods. The houses at the western end are the oldest two and date from the founding year 1682. In 1954 the gate of the former Latin School was added to the fence. This gate therefore does not belong to the original courtyard.
The ‘Kloosterpoort’ (Convent Gate) was built as an entrance to the residential court for old women. The gate and the wing were constructed in 1606-1607 and are the oldest part of this complex. After this residential court was discontinued, a Bank of Lending was established here (hence the street name “wisselstraat / change street”). The Kloosterpoort is made up of chequered posts with a semi-circular arch and a small cup in the keystone. The Kloosterpoort now gives access to a quiet courtyard garden.
The ‘Statenlogement’ was built in1613 and has a double stepped gable. Until 1796 it served as a hotel for the guests of the sessions of the Board of Delegates of the North Quarter and West Friesland (at the time the government of the region above Amsterdam). After that it served as the town hall until 1977. In the ‘Statenlogement’ there is also a chapel, the Cecilia Chapel which was part of the Cecilia Monastery. It is worth walking through the gate as well (it is often open)!
Koepelkerk / Dome Church
The domed church (R.K. Church St. Cyriacus and Francis) was built by the Hoorn architect A.C. Bleijs. This church replaced the hermitage church ‘The Three Tulips’. The opening took place in 1882. The church is dedicated to Saints Francis of Assisi and Cyriacus. This church is very similar to the larger St. Nicholas Church in Amsterdam. And that is not a coincidence because that church was also built by Bleijs.To the left of the church is the former presbytery, now a beautiful home.
Noorderkerk / Northern Church
The Noorderkerk was built in phases between 1441 and 1519. This makes this church the oldest building in the city of Hoorn. The church is located between the streets ‘Kleine Noord’ and ‘Veemarkt’.The floor is covered with tombstones (including those of the father of Willem IJsbrantsz. Bontekoe, a famous Dutch skipper). The church was purchased in 2017 by a local entrepreneur who beautifully restored the building. At the church there is a nice tea house and you can stay in the B&B that is located in the former residence of the sexton.
Appelhaven / Apple Harbor
Houses were already built on the Appelhaven in the 14th century. Along a part of the old ‘Westfriese Omringdijk’ (now ‘Grote Oost’) extra land was created by raising this outer dike area. The current inner harbor was created around 1420. Several national monuments can be found along the street. On the other side of the Appelhaven lies the Bierkade (Beer quay), a beautiful quay with a large number of old warehouses.
Burgerweeshuis / Orphanage
The former civil orphanage began as a Maria convent between 1408 and 1573. Of the original complex, only the Maria chapel from 1508 now remains. The main building was completely rebuilt in 1729 and only the entrance gate of the original building remains, although it too was added to the original building much later. The building was used as an orphanage from 1574 to 1958 (almost 400 years). Then it was used as part of the city hall until 1977. Now it houses eight apartments.
City beach Hoorn
The new city beach of Hoorn is not yet open, but already one of the top sights in Hoorn! This beach in the Markermeer is the largest city beach in the Netherlands and is comparable in size to that of Barcelona. From 2023, a visit to the historic center can be combined with a day at the beach!
Kerkplein / Church Square
The square with the Great Church of Hoorn is a historic site that has recently been redeveloped. During the renovation of this square archaeological discoveries were made, including the remains of an old cemetery. Meanwhile, the square has become a new hotspot in the city with nice terraces and catering establishments. In the church there are now apartments and a hotel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Hoorn worth a visit?
Hoorn is definitely worth a visit. In the historic center of Hoorn you will find more than 300 national monuments, many of which have their origins in the Dutch Golden Age (1600 – 1700). Hoorn is situated at the Markermeer and has several historic harbors. Hoorn is a compact city that is perfect for a city walk. When visiting consider a guided tour, fun for young and old!
What are the main sights and monuments of Hoorn?
The center of Hoorn is full of monuments. The most important monuments you should definitely visit are:
(1) Hoofdtoren /Main Tower,
(2) Staten College,
(4) Oosterpoort and
(5) Binnenhaven / Inner Harbour.
These monuments are all located within the historic center and can be visited during a city walk.
What are the best activities and attractions in Hoorn?
The most enjoyable activities are:
(1) A guided city walk through the historic center.
(2) The Museum of the 20th Century.
(3) A ride with the Museum Steam Tram Hoorn – Medemblik.
What is the distance between Hoorn and Amsterdam?
The distance between Hoorn and Amsterdam is about 40km. By car it takes about 30 minutes and there is ample parking around the center. By train you travel from Amsterdam Central Station in 35 minutes to the center of Hoorn.
Brief history of Hoorn
Hoorn originated somewhere between 1200 and 1300 as a settlement on the spot where the small river ‘Gouw’ flowed into the Zuiderzee (sea).Through this vanished river contact was possible with other settlements in the hinterland and through sea voyages contact was made with cities further away. In 1356 Hoorn was rich enough to buy city rights. The city later joined forces with Philip the Good enabling it to make use of the large trade network of the Burgundian Empire.
Hoorn in the Dutch Golden Age
Another political choice that brought success to the city was joining the revolt against the Spaniards. In 1572 Hoorn, along with the rest of the region, took sides with William of Orange. In this battle ships from Hoorn successfully took on a Spanish fleet on the Zuiderzee. Hoorn was early freed from Spanish hands and subsequently profited from free trade opportunities. Hoorn became the administrative and economic center of the area north of Amsterdam. The VOC and WIC (both international trade companies), but also the Nordic Company and the Admiralty established themselves in the city. The most important sights and monuments in the historic center of Hoorn date from this period.
1700 – 1900 period
However, Hoorn could not compete with Amsterdam. More and more ships passed Hoorn and slowly the economy of the town went downhill. The foundation of the Batavian Republic in 1795 put an end to all administrative functions of Hoorn. In the nineteenth century trade flourished for a while, thanks to the large agricultural production of the area around the city. The Hoorn cheese market became the most important in the province.
Recent history of Hoorn
In the twentieth century this market function disappeared again, but Hoorn remained an important city for the region. From 1970 the city got a new function as an overflow for the overcrowded Amsterdam. The old city center was hardly changed around 1970 to make room for the increasing car traffic. Under pressure from the local population, a different approach was eventually chosen, whereby many historic buildings could be preserved and small-scale new construction was incorporated into the historic center. The city now fulfills a regional function for education, health care and shopping. And thanks to the large number of sights in Hoorn, the city attracts more and more cultural tourists.