Alkmaar is a city centrally located in North Holland. Alkmaar’s nickname is ‘cheese city’, which is due to the age-old tradition of the weekly cheese market that is held here. It even goes so far that the inhabitants of Alkmaar are more often called cheese head than Alkmaarder. Thanks to the favorable power station, Alkmaar has been able to grow into one of the largest cities in the province. Amsterdam and Haarlem have more inhabitants. Alkmaar arose about halfway through the Middle Ages as a farming village on a beach embankment. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Alkmaar grew into an important international trading city. The cheese trade only started in Alkmaar at a later stage, around the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Within the province of North Holland you can see Alkmaar as one of the most interesting destinations for a city trip. The city is fascinating, has a rich history and is not overrun with tourists. It is only noticeably busier in the center of Alkmaar on days when the cheese market is held. The nice thing about Alkmaar is that there is more to see than just cheese. The city has a number of fascinating museums and beautiful sights that ensure that a visit to Alkmaar will be a pleasant experience. To save you the necessary research, we have listed the 10 most interesting sights of Alkmaar for you.
According to topschoolsintheusa, Alkmaar has a canal belt around the old city center and several canals in the old city center. These waterways are perfect for a canal cruise . From April to October you can take part in a cruise from De Mient, near the Waagplein. Together with a captain and guide you will take a 45-minute boat trip through the canals of Alkmaar. Along the way you will be told everything about Alkmaar, the history of Alkmaar and the sights you will encounter along the way.
Top 10 things to do in Alkmaar
The Waagplein is the heart of Alkmaar. Here is the impressive Waag. This building is seen as the icon of the city. Construction started as early as the fourteenth century. It finally took until the year 1603 until the Waag was ready. In the meantime, the weigh house has served as the chapel of the H. Geestgasthuis. Today, the local tourist office and the Cheese Museum are located in the Waag. The Waagplein is mainly used by the terraces of the amply present catering industry. This makes it one of the most pleasant places in the city, especially in the summer period. The Alkmaar cheese market is held on the Waagplein from April to the beginning of September.
#2. town hall
One of the most striking buildings in Alkmaar is located on the Langestraat: the Alkmaar Town Hall. The Gothic architectural style ensures that the building stands out among the many shops in the car-free Langestraat. It took eleven years to build the town hall. It started in 1509 and was finished in 1520. After the arrival of the new municipal office, which is located just outside the historic center, the town hall is mainly used as a wedding location. The imposing staircase and the beautiful entrance guarantee beautiful wedding photos. As a tourist you don’t have to come in your wedding outfit to take some nice pictures here.
#3. House with the Bullet
Today most houses in Alkmaar are built with stone. In the past, people mainly used wood. In Alkmaar you can still see a special wooden house. It concerns the building located at 2 Appelsteeg. This monumental wooden building is known as ‘The House with the Bullet’. It was probably built just before the siege of Alkmaar. The house owes its name to the bullet that hit the house during the Siege of Alkmaar. The bullet was later placed in the left corner of the facade on the canal and is now clearly visible to visitors. According to a legend, the 40-pound bullet would have gone straight through the facade on impact and caused the necessary destruction. The House with the Bullet is one of the two remaining wooden buildings in Alkmaar. Thanks to a thorough restoration in 2010, the wooden facade built into an overhang looks beautiful.
#4. Great Saint Laurens Church
The Grote Sint-Laurenskerk is the largest church building in Alkmaar. In the early days it was a Roman Catholic church. Since 1573 it was a Protestant church until the building lost its religious function in 1996. Today, the Grote Sint-Laurenskerk has a museum function. What makes the church so special is the fact that you have the oldest church organ in Europe that can still be played here. This choir organ was made in 1511 by Jan van Covelen. The organ was later expanded with an extra keyboard. The main organ is somewhat younger: the current version dates from 1725. The Grote Sint-Laurenskerk can be visited free of charge. Temporary exhibitions are regularly held in the building.
#5. Excise tower
Excise duties are a phenomenon that we have been dealing with in the Netherlands for a long time. This form of tax used to be an important source of income for cities. In Alkmaar, goods to be imported used to be declared in the Accijnstoren. This square tower was therefore a kind of tax office. Today, this seventeenth-century tower is a monument that is especially beautiful on the Bierkade. The tower does this in a different place than where it was originally placed. The widening of the Bierkade meant that the Accijnstoren had to be moved four meters in 1924.
#6. Dutch Cheese Museum
In cheese city Alkmaar, a museum about this famous should of course not be missed. The Dutch Cheese Museum is located in what used to be the most beautiful spot in the city: the historic Waag. The cheese to be traded has been weighed here since the early seventeenth century. The Dutch Cheese Museum is a real museum, unlike cheese museums in a number of other cities that mainly serve to sell cheese. The museum visit starts with a clear short documentary about the production of Dutch cheeses. You can then walk through the museum to see how cheese is made and what the by-products of cheese production are.
#7. Beatles Museum
You don’t have to travel all the way to their hometown of Liverpool for a museum about the Beatles. Thanks to an initiative started by Azing Moltmaker in 1981, you can learn everything about this world-famous former British pop group in Alkmaar. The Beatles Museum has become a beautiful tribute to a phenomenon that still has many fans. In the museum you can view all kinds of instruments, attributes and clothing of the band. The Beatles Museum is one of the largest and best Beatles museums in the world.
The Alkmaar city center still has a number of courtyards. These are courtyards or inner gardens around which a number of small houses are located. These almshouses were usually founded centuries ago. They were mainly started from charity or social housing. The House of Zessen is the oldest existing almshouse building in Alkmaar. Because that shape also occurs: as a proveniers house. The most beautiful courtyards in Alkmaar are the Hof van Sonoy and the Wildemanshofje. The houses around the Wildemanshofje are still inhabited by women. Religion is irrelevant these days. In the beginning, this courtyard was intended for women of all Christian denominations. The Hof van Sonoy was founded in 18705. It is striking that the inner garden is fully visible from the street side and that the richly decorated entrance gate is on the left. You often see that it is more centrally located. The presence of a restaurant in the Hof van Sonoy means that the inner garden now serves as a terrace.
#9. Municipal Museum
The Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar is one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands. Ever since 1875, art lovers can enjoy a variety of works of art from different periods here. Nowadays, this takes place in a modernly designed building on Canadaplein. This square, located in the heart of Alkmaar, is also known as the cultural square of the city. As befits a municipal museum, you mainly see art made by local artists or in which Alkmaar plays a role in another way. For example, the oil painting ‘View of the Grote or Sint-Laurenskerk van Alkmaar’ is one of the highlights of the collection.
#10. Pete’s mill
There are several windmills in and around Alkmaar. A mill in itself is therefore not a special appearance in this city. Nevertheless, we think that the Molen van Piet, also known as De Groot, deserves a place in the top 10 sights of Alkmaar. The stellingmolen is a fine example of a typical Dutch flour mill. This mill has been standing since 1769 on the western side of the fortifications around the historic center of Haarlem. If you are going to see the Molen van Piet, then that is immediately a good reason to take a walk on the Clarissenbolweerk. You can then immediately visit Het Kruithuisje. This ammunition store, built at the end of the eighteenth century, now serves as a gallery.