Individual Days - Netherlands


September 9, 2023

Happy Open Monumentendag!! September 9-10 are European Heritage Days, and to celebrate Haarlem opens most museums and cultural establishments for free to the public. It is also Market Day, so we have a lot to see in Haarlem.

But first we started out our day with an excellent breakfast at the hotel. We meet a couple from Washington who are part of the Rick Steves’ tour group at breakfast. They were headed to Amsterdam for the day. We had a full day in Haarlem.

Grote Market

Today is Market Day!! So, the market square was filled with vendors. It would be so fun to grocery shop for the week here every Saturday. – meat and fish, eggs, cheese, fruits and vegetables and goodies like chocolates, flowers, etc.

Grote Kerk

Our first reservation for the day was to climb the tower at St. Bavokerk. As we entered the church, we met out tower guide, Onno. He explained that the tower was originally made of stone (which was common). However the weight of the stone tower started to cause damage to the columns in the church so it was removed and replaced with a wooden tower. There are no blueprints or drawings of the existing tower, so volunteers climbed the tower and measured each wood beam and made a model which stands on display in the church. You can then see all the details of the structure in the model.

Our tour guide, Onno
Volunteer who measured the lengths of wooden beams and built tower model

We started to walk the 220 steps up the tower. Along the way, we were able to look out windows – some facing outside to neighboring buildings, some facing inside with a view of the church interior.

Once we got to the attic (above the church ceiling), we could see all the intricate woodwork and engineering that went into making the new roof. Onno pointed out that the Dutch were master shipbuilders. If you look closely, the structure is an upside-down ship.

View looking down into the church
Top side view of the wood ceilings

This wheel is still used today. A person gets inside and walks to turn the wheel, just like a hamster. That raises or lowers the trap door so they can lift heavy objects up to the attic.

Now for the views outside. I was worried I would be afraid of the heights, but it was beautiful! Great views of Haarlem and the market square.

Onno pointing out different landmarks
The market

On the way down from the tower, we went through a room with old artifacts. Lots of cool things have been stored over the years.

Anyone missing a key?

Later in the afternoon, we returned to hear Anton Pauw play the organ. This organ was built by Mueller and Handel and Mozart previously played it.

Ten Boom Museum

I remember the story of “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom. The Ten Boom house is in Haarlem. Corrie’s father taught Corrie and her siblings how to show love to those in need. They held prayer meetings (which were banned at the time) and hid Jews until they could be transferred to a safe house. They were betrayed and Corrie and her family were taken by the Nazi’s. They never shared the hidden room location. The rest of Corrie’s family died in prison or concentration camps, but the hidden Jews were able to get away.

We could only take pictures in Corrie’s room. The wall has been removed so you can see the small location that could hold up to 6 people.

Hiding place behind the wall of Corrie’s bedroom
Food ration cards hidden behind molding

Since it was Open Monumentendag, we were able to visit a number of museums and houses. We visited the Town Hall, Molen de Aidriaan, Spaarnwouder of Amsterdamse Poort, Teyler Museum, and Hodshon Huis.

Town Hall
Enormous Wall Tapestry
Molen de Adriaan
Haarlem Red Light District
Spaarnwouder Poort
Only surviving city gate
Teyler Museum
The Library which is normally closed to the public
Hodshon Huis

Canal Tour

We booked a canal tour with Haarlem Canal Tours. Jerone was our multilingual guide. We were the only English-speaking guests on board. Several locals were taking the tour for Open Monumentendag.

It was a fabulous tour!! It was so relaxing to sit back and glide through the canals. We learned about some of the city’s history.


We ended our full day with dinner at Restaurant Zuidam next to the Molen de Adriaan. We were seated at a table facing the canal. As we waited for our food, we saw our canal guide, Jerone, and his girlfriend arrive by boat. He told us that we had picked an excellent restaurant. We started with a Dutch specialty bitterballen, then Mark had Bream and I had Chicken Satay. We ordered assorted cheeses for dessert. What a wonderful dinner!!

Dutch Bitterballen
Chicken Satay
Dessert - assorted cheeses (Rouvener cheese was my favorite)
Dessert - assorted cheese with fig jam. Other cheeses included red fungus cheese, Spanish bleu cheese
View from out table
After dinner drinks and people watching
View from table

We ended up walking a total of 8.9 miles today.

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