Adding the excellent possibilities on the field of nautic sports, and the location on the Wadden Sea it will be clear that at least once in your life, you need to pay a visit to the town of Harlingen.
Where on this world can one still moore a motor yacht in the middle of the city, or even find a berth?
And you will keep coming back...Harlingen has risen around 800 AC from a Viking settlement and the Frisian harbourtown has cityrights since 1234 AC. The town (with 16.000 habitants) takes its special atmosphere from the location onto the Wadden Sea, a special scenic area with low and high tide, and the open connection with the sea. The recently extended industry and fishing harbour are building up next to the shipping yards, the fishing, sugarworks, wood and concrete industry, an important source of income.
This also applies to the historical and touristy harbours. Where on this world can one still moore a motor yacht in the middle of the city, or even find a berth? In one of the atmospheric canals in the town of Harlingen. The water penetrates deeply into the town centre. This makes a stroll over the piers, the docks along the canals and over the bulwarks possible. When the weather is good, it is a very crowded place to be, especially in the inner city and on the artificially constructed beach. The authentic ambiance of Harlingen is also set by the many monuments the town is rich of. This large amount of historical buildings is the result of the pride that the habitants of Harlingen feel for their city. Several organisations, like the Old Harlingen Society and the Hein Buisman Society- are watching over the historical heritage, keeping in mind that Harlingen does have to remain a place you can really live in. This is why the present and the past go hand in hand in Harlingen.
You can experience this yourself, while exploring the city, but also by taking a walk through the town in the company of experienced guides (more information available at the Tourist Board on the Noorderhaven)
Harlingen, city of Memorial Monuments
The history of Harlingen also lives on through several monuments, like "De stiennen Man ( Man of stone)". This statue on the Westerzeedijk reminds of the All Saints Day tide (Allerheiligenvloed) of 1. november 1570. The story says that no one could decide who had to solve the problems around the dike. Under guidance of Caspar di Robles, who was in duty of Alva, citykeeper of the town of Leeuwarden, a new dike was built in 1575 by an army of 3.300 dikeworkers.
The communal maintenance by the inner and outer dikers made sure that Caspar di Robles was equipped with two heads (see picture). It is a special monument which is, as far as our knowledge goes, the only memorial sign that was ever founded out of gratitude for an enemy.
On the Grote Bredeplaats you can find what the people of Harlingen call "the Tobbedanser (literally: Dancer in the washing tub)" Many people of Harlingen used to earn their living this way. With their bare feet, the tobbedansers spreaded the paint on the textile. It was a hard way of making a living, which the offspring of these tobbedansers are still very proud of. Mister Tjerk Hiddesz de Vries is also being commemorated in a monument on the Grote Bredeplaats. This admiral was killed in 1666 during the seabattle against England. He was born in Sexbierum, a small town nearby Harlingen, and was lieutenant-admiral at the Frisian Board of Admiralty. The name of Hans Brinkers will probably ring a bell for many people. The "Jonkje" which is Frisian for "little boy" as he is being called by the inhabitants of Harlingen, prevented a huge disaster because of the rising water by sticking his thumb into a hole in the dike.
The silhouette of Harlingen is defined by a few church towers
The silhouette of Harlingen is defined by a few church towers, among which the one of the Grote of Nieuwe Kerk (Big or New Church) (on the street called Kerkepad). The location of this church marks the place where the first christian church of Friesland was built in 777.
The church tower is the oldest part of the church and was built in 1200. Since it was crumbling, the church was demolished in 1771 and they started rebuilding it in 1772.
The church has the shape of a cross and has four entries. The organ, which was built in 1775 by Albertus Anthonie Hinsz, is considered to be among the prettiest of the Netherlands and is said to have a beautiful sound. On a regular basis concerts are being held in the church.
The Catholic Saint Michael Church is being used from 1881, after years of services in a conventicle. The church was severely damaged in World War II and because of its monumental character they chose to repair it instead of rebuilding it. The seven glass-lead windows are designed by mister Jan Murk de Vries. The building is an example of neogothic art in a sober, pure form. The three-dimensional effect and the colours are very impressive.Unfortunately the characteristic Baptist Church had to be demolished by the end of the previous century. On the location where the baptists have been gathering for the last 400 years, the present Vermaning Church has arisen and is now being used for the same purpose.
The rich history appears to be an important source of inspiration for art and culture
This is reflected among others in the Hannemahuis Community Museum, which is a beautiful mansion is where the family Hannema has been living for over twohundred years. Today a large collection of silver work and china can be seen in several period rooms.
There are also paintings of the old City of Harlingen, hand-painted tiles, old citymaps and shipmodels to admire. The entrance hall interior, the garden and the Simon Vestdijk room (Dutch poet) on the honour of the spiritual father of Anton Wachter are also considered to be great pieces.The Harlinger Factory of Pottery and Tiles on the Voorstraat is also full of the spirit of history.
This company was built in 1972 and based on the old craft of "gleibakker" (gleybacker) as it was practised in Harlingen between 1598 and 1933.
One can also get in touch with the rich history of the pottery of Harlingen and the tile manufacturing. You can also take a look at the specialities of the factory, the manufacturing of the handmade and handpainted tiles and the restoration of missing tiles from tile scenes.Frisian pottery also plays an important role in the Harlingen Pottery Museum of Minze van den Akker (Zoutsloot).
His collection gives an overview of the Frisian production of hand painted tinglazed pottery as it also being manufactured in Harlingen, Makkum and Bolsward. One can also get acquainted with the typical Frisian knife-carved pottery (from Workum, Lemmer and Sneek) in the private museum.
An also interesting subject to mention is the initiative of Kunst aan de Kust (Art at the Coast). A group of artlovers had aimed at enlarging the reputation of galeries and museums in Harlingen by composing an art route. The power of this initiative lies in the very differing forms of art with which the visitors can get in touch. "Like the landscape around Harlingen, is also its art: salty or unsalted, tranquil or stormy, intimate or endlessly broad." Keep in mind that the thresholds in Harlingen are extremely low. Sometimes "Kunst aan de Kust" will invite you through a hardstone sidewalk or a monumental entree door. However, you can get acquainted with the culture of Harlingen on other places as well. Wijnaldum is for instance a town with a very long history. The discovery of a large fibula gave rise to an archeologic investigation which showed that in the 7th century already Wijnaldum was an important town. This history is drawn in an archeological support in the old vestry.
Enjoy the changing images of the Wadden Sea
Harlingen owes to a great extend its livelyhood to the large amount of sailing and shipping activity in and around the town. The ferries are departing several times a day towards the Wadden Sea Islands and the excursion ships of "the Brown Fleet" (authentic ships with brown sails) are also shipping off on a regular basis.
On board of these ships many guests can enjoy the changing images the Wadden Sea is offering. Lovers of nautic sports also know their way to Harlingen more and more. For the last years lots of investments have been made in facilities for yachts and motor boats which visit Harlingen in large numbers.
Except for sailing trips and travels by ship across the Wadden Sea, Harlingen has to offer a lot more. Through the Tjerke Hiddes locks one can sail across the whole province of Friesland. This also counts for the shipping route from Bolsward to Harlingen which is a beautiful way of discovering the Northwest area of Friesland through the meandering inland waterways.
And if you like doing something different than being on or nearby the water, you can also discover the area by bike. You don't necessarily need a boat to practise nautic sports in Harlingen.
You can make a trip on an excursion vessel to the sand banks where seals seek their peace or through the canals of Harlingen with the water bus called the Canal Princess (Singel Prinses, inquiries at Tourist Board). Day trips to the isles of Vlieland and Terschelling are also possible. Visitors can make their own arrangements to visit the isles or take a boat of one of the local shipping companies. Sportfishing is another way of enjoying the water. Day trips to the sea especially for lovers of fishing are organised on a daily basis .
It is also very likely that you will encounter uncommon bird species
Surprisingly nature lovers will find their satisfaction in the area as well. Just behind the Westerzee dike lies the Hegewiersterfjild. This is a meadow full of relief where many birds like the ringed plover, the stilt-walker and the common stern are dwelling. It is also very likely that you will encounter uncommon bird species.
The Hegewiersterfjild is an important breeding area for birds and for the stilt-walker in particular. It serves during the winter as a stop for refreshment or food. Because of the many mice that are present, it is also an attractive hunting area for the short-eared owl, the kestrel, and the harrier hen.Because of its many faces, the town of Harlingen is very qualified for a short or longer stay.
You can stay in one of the many hotels or in a bed and breakfast. For a very special stay, you could try the lighthouse, which has been reconstructed into a mini hotel, the harbour crane, or even the lifeboat. You will experience that Harlingen is definitely worth a visit!