Hoorn used to have four entrance gates. This allowed for control of the comings and goings of passersby and enabled the city to be closed off in the evenings and in times of need. The Koepoort, Noorderpoort, and Westerpoort have been demolished. Fortunately, the Oosterpoort from 1578 has been preserved. It is a simple gatehouse without living spaces, parapets, or embrasures, but with impressive ornamentation. In 1601, a small house was built on top of the gate, and it is still inhabited today. The Oosterpoort used to be accessible via a wooden bridge. The brick stone arched bridge dates back to 1763.
The Hoofdtoren and Houten Hoofd
The Hoofdtoren, built in 1532, is one of the last defensive works of Hoorn and still a prominent landmark for incoming ships. In 1651, the building received its bell tower. Above the former entrance to the corner tower, you can see the coat of arms of West-Friesland. After the tower lost its function as a defensive structure, it housed various institutions, including the Compagnie van Spitsbergen, also known as the Nordic Company, which focused on whaling in the Arctic Ocean from 1614 to 1645. Now, the Hoofdtoren is used as a café-restaurant in one of the most touristy spots in Hoorn. The Houten Hoofd jetty originated in 1464 and has retained its wooden structure throughout the centuries. Next to the jetty, we see the “Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe” (Ship’s Boys of Bontekoe) looking out over the former Zuiderzee from the harbor wall. On the jetty itself, there is a bust of the Hoorn skipper Bontekoe.
The Bossu Houses
These three 17th-century residential houses are named after an illustrated frieze on the facades, depicting verses by J.C. Mayvogel and reliefs illustrating the naval battle of the West Frisians and the Watergeuzen against the Spanish fleet. This six-day and six-night battle ultimately resulted in victory off the coast of Hoorn with the help of the Hoorn population. The commander of the Spanish fleet, the Count of Bossu, was captured in Hoorn. The battle in October 1573 went down in history as the Battle on the Zuiderzee. The Bossu Houses are now owned by the Hendrick de Keijser Foundation and are rented out. The corner building (Grote Oost 132) has a special mural on its side facade, a historical advertisement board depicting advertising practices in Hoorn in the 19th century.
The Oosterkerk was built in 1519 and has traditionally been the church of sailors and fishermen. The weather vane is shaped like a little ship. In 1603, the facade collapsed, and it took several years for the church to be restored to its full glory. The church has many attractions, such as the monumental organ, tombstones, a spiral staircase to the bell tower, a church pew, and several stained glass windows, including the Bossu window from 1619 and the Poortjes window from 2007, as well as the beautiful window created by Dutch artist Joost Swarte. The adjacent buildings named Spuithuis-B and Claes Joesthuys, named after the priest Claes Joest from 1458, are also part of the complex. In addition to Sunday services, the church is used for various cultural and community events.
Built in 1609 by the architect Hendrik de Keijser, the current canopy dates back to 1913. The Waag building was used for trading cheese among other things. The public square in front of it was colloquially known as the “Kaasmarkt” (Cheese Market). Parts of the ancient scales still hang from the centuries-old beams. Hidden behind the shutters is the bell that used to ring when the market began. The first floor of the building also housed the city militia and served as the city drawing school. Since 1953, the building has been used as a restaurant with a popular terrace.
This Renaissance-style building from 1632 was the seat of the Gecommitteerde Raden van West-Friesland en het Noorderkwartier, the government of this part of Holland. The facade is adorned with the seven coats of arms of the cities of Medemblik, Edam, Hoorn (left), Purmerend, Monnickendam, Enkhuizen (right), and in the center, the coat of arms of the city of Alkmaar. One can also see the coats of arms of stadtholder Frederik Hendrik and of West-Friesland. After 1796, the building had many other uses, including serving as a district court until 1877, and as a cantonal court until 1931. The facade underwent extensive restoration between 1908 and 1911. In 1931, the Westfries Museum took over the entire building. In 1994, the adjacent former bank building was incorporated into the museum, and more recently, the building next to it at number 15. The museum features beautiful interiors, such as the Blue Room in Louis XVI style, and the militia hall with its militia paintings, which are well worth a visit. However, please be patient, as the museum will undergo extensive renovations in the coming years.
This is the old St. Jansgasthuis, as indicated on the facade. It served as a hospital for the sick in the city. Construction of this hospital began in 1563. Experts consider the building to be the best-preserved example of Dutch Renaissance architecture. From 1861 to 1922, the building was used as a clothing warehouse for the Hoorn garrison. In 1925, the building became a storage place for butter and cheese, which is why it is still known as the “Boterhal” (Butter Hall) to this day. For decades, the building has been the permanent home of the Artists’ Association Hoorn and serves as a venue for exhibitions and events.
Statenlogement (or Statenpoort)
The Statenlogement from 1613 was the former residence and lodging building of the Gecommitteerde Raden van West-Friesland en het Noorderkwartier, the government of this part of Holland. The building has a twin gable with statues of Stadtholder Prince Maurits on both peaks and dominates the current shopping street with its imposing architectural style. From 1797 to 1977, the complex served as the town hall. The building features a beautiful Schepenenkamer (Aldermen’s Chamber, modernized in 1788 by Leendert Viervant) with a magnificent painting by Jan Blanckerhoff depicting the “Battle on the Zuiderzee,” a splendid fireplace with painted coats of arms of the Hoorn city officials, and numerous other authentic features. Nowadays, the building is a popular wedding venue, although it is temporarily used by the Westfries Museum.
Construction of the Noorderkerk began in the Middle Ages (1441). By 1519, the entire building was completed. It remains largely unchanged and is one of the few buildings in Hoorn that still dates back entirely to the Middle Ages. The church was intended for “ordinary people.” The sailors and craftsmen who attended the church generally had modest incomes. This, along with wars and poor harvests, was one of the reasons why the Noorderkerk was built in stages. After the initial wooden church, construction began to convert it into a stone church. The church walls were built with handmade red bricks. Alternating blocks and bands of natural stone added variety to the overall design. The construction initially focused on the nave. In 1450, work began on the choir and transept. The church was initially single-aisled. Later, the side aisles were added one by one, requiring the replacement of the walls of the original nave with columns. The facade of the church is slightly skewed to the longitudinal axis of the building, resulting in three columns for the south aisle and four columns for the north aisle. This extension created a three-aisled hall church. The three halls are of equal height and nearly the same width. The choir is an extension of the nave, with the transept fully closing off the three halls.
The current complex of St. Pietershof on Dal Street in Hoorn is the result of a complex history of construction and use. It is characterized by a medieval background as a place of housing for religious communities, such as the Jeronimieten and later, in particular, the period of the Brotherhood of the Crossed Friars. This monastery order was dedicated to the patron saint, St. Peter. From that time, the names Kruisherenklooster, Dalsklooster, and Sint Pietersklooster originate. After the Reformation in 1572, the monastery was taken over by the municipal authorities. The monastery itself, not the monastery church, stood in the same place and had approximately the same shape as the current “Vierkant” (Square). It was much smaller in size than the current complex, including the present-day square. It was adapted for various uses, including housing for the elderly. No visible remnants remain of the buildings from this main phase. Only a few foundation remains have been located. The current St. Pietershof, as the second main phase in the history of the courtyard, originated from the city council’s desire in 1614 to provide a home for the elderly and a disciplinary or workhouse for beggars and the mentally ill. The first construction phase can be dated to the years 1617-1618. This fact also marks the actual foundation of the “Oud Mann’en Vrouwen Huys Sint Pietershof” (Old Men and Women’s House St. Pietershof), alongside the other functions that no longer exist today. The year 1617 on the St. Pieterspoortje, the main entrance to the courtyard on Spoorstraat/Munnickenveld, bears witness to this. The new construction was largely based on the foundations of the demolished “Vierkant,” which consisted of the Crossed Friars’ monastery. During this construction, the western and eastern wings were extended in a southern direction and connected to the Gothic Crossed Friars’ or Dalskloosterkerk, built in 1462. The connection to the church or chapel also formed the southern wall for the current layout of St. Pietershof. Four main wings enclose a courtyard with a smaller courtyard, still known as the “Vierkant” today. The mentioned Dalskloosterkerk was replaced in 1692 by the current main wing at Dal, which was built almost in the same place as the chapel’s foundations. The St. Pieterspoortje in the outer facade of the eastern wing is also an authentic part.
Munnickenveld It was the monks of St. Pietersdalklooster who developed the land north of the Gedempte Turfhaven. After the monastery period, the area was used variably. Elderly citizens used to donate their property to a monastery or guesthouse in exchange for housing and care. From the sixteenth century, this provision was increasingly provided by wealthy merchants who, out of Christian charity, established courtyards. On the former “munnickenveld,” the Claes Stapels hofje and Pietershof were established. Strict rules were in place to ensure harmonious communal living. Residents of the Claes Stapels hofje had to be home by 10 p.m., were not allowed to have strong alcoholic beverages at home, and were not to argue or quarrel with fellow residents. The courtyard was often arranged as a vegetable garden and bleaching area. One or more communal water pumps provided the (drinking) water supply. In a more secluded area, a shared toilet facility could be found. During the establishment of the courtyard, elderly people who could no longer independently manage their own household and did not have the option to live with family but could still take care of themselves personally, could be accommodated in the Sint Pietershof on Dal Street.
The Mariatoren, dating back to 1508, is located at a point where the city wall still retains its original height. On top of the wall, there was a wall. The location where the wall used to be can still be seen on both sides of the Mariatoren. The Mariatoren is a defensive tower in late Gothic style with cannon loopholes and musket loopholes. The tower owes its name to the Mariaklooster (Maria Monastery), which had to contribute to the defense of the city.
These two non-identical warehouses were built on the orders of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1606 (the one on the right), and the construction year of the one on the left (with the stone plaque) is unknown. After the decline of the VOC in 1660, the warehouses came under the care of the municipality and the state, and they were converted into accommodation for married officers and their families. After Hoorn was no longer a garrison town, numerous businesses occupied the warehouses, and many renovations were carried out. The last major renovation took place in 1985. Number 21 now houses the theater “Het Pakhuis,” and number 22 is the headquarters of the Association of Old Hoorn (Vereniging Oud Hoorn), where exhibitions are held that are freely accessible. There is also a shop, a library/documentation center, and a meeting room.
Thanks to the Association of Old Hoorn for the texts. For more information about historical Hoorn, visit: oudhoorn.nl.
Translations by ChatGPT