For many, Harlingen is the most beautiful of the Frisian "Elfsteden" (eleven cities). Of course, you should not argue about taste, but the city of ’Ouwe Seunen’ (the nickname of Harlingen) has something the other ten cities don’t have: the unique atmosphere of a real seaport city. Harlingen is a lively, bustling city during the water sports season. But also in the winter, the various ports ensure "life in the brewery".
The first port was already built around 1500. Thanks to the flourishing trade and shipping, the city grew explosively in the second half of the sixteenth century. When the Frisian Admiralty was moved from Dokkum to Harlingen in 1645, the city also became a naval port at that time.
The rich past can be seen in the more than 500 (!) Monumental builings in the city. One of them, the Hannemahuis, houses the municipal museum, where the history of the city comes to life in a fascinating way. You can get different city walks here. Another interesting museum is the Harlinger Aardewerkmuseum, located at the Zoutsloot canal. This picturesque canal is in the winter the scenic backdrop for a Christmas market that has become one of the most original and atmospheric in the Netherlands. Two other annual events that are worth a visit are the so-called ’Lanenkaatsen’ (third week of June) and the Harlinger-Visserijdagen (fishing days) end of August. We would like to refer art lovers to ’Art on the coast’
The contrast between the lively Harlingen and the surrounding area is great. The peace and quiet in the western part of the ’Bouhoeke’, the agricultural area north of the Harlingen - Leeuwarden line is only occasionally disturbed by the sound of agricultural machines. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, a steam train was also regularly heard: the Stiens-Harlingen railway line of the Noord-Friesche Lokaalspoorweg Maatschappij ran through the area. The State Railways had already opened the Harlingen-Leeuwarden line in 1863, the first railway line in Friesland.
The names of all the villages in this region end with -um, which is derived from Germanic "heem", which means ’place of residence’ and is still reported in Frisian in the word "hiem". In this area, which was not protected against the sea until well after the beginning of the Christian era, these residences were necessarily placed on artificial elevations in the salt marsh landscape: so-called terpen. These residential manmade mounds were often erected on existing natural elevations in the landscape, the salt marshes. A famous mound is that of Wijnaldum. Special archaeological finds have been made here in the past. A visit to the archaeological information center is worthwhile.
The construction of dikes began around 1000. One of them is the Slachtedyk, which is more than 42 kilometers long. In 2000, the dike was the route for the Slachtemarathon for the first time, which has since been organized every four years. But you don’t have to wait until the next edition: the dike is freely accessible. And when you set off on your own, you experience the beautiful landscape, the peace, and quiet all the more! And of course, you may also walk a small part of the route ...
The current monumental seadike also has an irresistible attraction for many. When the weather is nice, the view over the Waddensea in front and the land behind is truly magical! And with ’rough’ weather, when the function of the dike is palpable and visible, you can almost be ’blown away’ literally and figuratively. There are so-called ’dyksputten’ here and there on the inside of the dike, which combined forms the Bjirmen nature reserve.
The history of the area is explained in a clear and expressive way on the village site of Sexbierum. But not before the intriguing name of the village has been addressed ... Because of the presence of quite a few monumental farms and stately homes of notables, Sexbierum and the neighboring Pietersbierum exude a certain grandeur.
It will be clear: Harlingen is more than just the place where the boat to and from Vlieland or Terschelling departs and arrives and the surroundings will pleasantly surprise you. Take a few days to explore the monumental, cozy city and the beautiful, relaxing environment. Three unique accommodation options ensure the ’ultimate harbor feeling’. You can if you want, sleep in a harbor crane, a lighthouse or a lifeboat. What else do you want!