Sunday, August 10, 2008

'Virtue Conquers Violence': Haarlem

Haarlem (note the double A) is a really fantastic day trip from Amsterdam.  It's 6 euros for a round-trip on the train and barely twenty minutes away.  Once the most powerful city in North Holland, Haarlem is where the Harlem in New York gets it's name.  (After all, as the song says, "Old New York was once New Amsterdam".  FYI, there is an edgy small art-book publishing house here in Amsterdam called New Amsterdam).

Haarlem is also really charming.  I was worried about the weather today, as it down poured in Old Amsterdam until around 11:30.  It was still rather grey when I boarded the train, but by the time I arrived in Haarlem the sky was blue blue blue.

Grote Markt: the center of Haarlem.

The big cathedral is in the middle of the city.  Once again, the patron of this cathedral is Saint Bavo.  As a youth, Bavo was wild and selfish, he frequently sold his servants and pretty much had absolutely nothing to do with the religious life until hearing a sermon by Saint Amand.  The two traveled together as missionaries through France and the low countries (Belgium, Netherlands, etc.)  Bavo finally settled down as a monk, building himself an abbey and giving all of his possessions to the poor.  No martyrdom for Bavo.  Apparently Bavo's picture is part of the coat of arms of Wilrijk, a suburb of Antwerp.  Let me repeat that.  A suburb with a coat of arms.  Let's just marvel about the glory of that sentence for a moment.

I spent quite a long time wandering through the streets, eating an ice cream.  Most of the shops were closed (they take their Sundays seriously here), but museums and some restaurant/cafes were open.

Unfortunately this violin maker's workshop was closed.  There was a huge unlabeled display of 'how a violin is made' taking up the entire shop window, but the shop itself was not named.

More charm.

I visited the Teylers Museum.  This place is fantastic.  It is the oldest public museum in the Netherlands.  The collection was formed in the 1700s by a wealthy cloth merchant named Pieter Teyler van der Hulst.  Truly a collection of the Age of the Enlightenment, the Teylers contains an extensive collection of fossils, geological specimens, scientific instruments, coins, medals, prints and drawings, and paintings.  It is a huge example of a cabinet of curiosities.  

The galleries are all exactly as they were when the museum was first incorporated, shortly after Teylers' death in the late 1770s.  The image below is courtesy of an anonymous photographer and is of one of the rooms containing scientific equipment and various minerals.

There was one giant machine, turned by a hand-crank, that existed solely to create a static charge.  There were tons of telescopes, and even chunks of the telegraph cables used to span the Atlantic.  Favorites: the minerals, the prints/drawings cabinet, the models of the universe with only six planets, and the second paintings gallery.

Typical Dutch architecture.

I also went to the Frans Hals Museum.  Hals (1580-1666) is one of the masters of the Dutch Golden Age.  He worked in Haarlem, painting loads of group portraits of the various civic societies in Haarlem, militias and such things.  The Frans Hals Museum actually has one of the largest collections of his work.  The museum is located in what used to be a home for old men, a single sex nursing home (don't worry, in the spirit of equality, the Dutch had a home for old ladies too).  Hals was a good painter, but I must confess that I was more interested in the building than his group portraits.  There was one room that had walls covered in embossed and painted/gilded/silvered leather panels.  

This fantastic row of houses is right across from the Frans Hals Museum.


Ynn said...

Frank really wanted to get to Haarlem when we were there. A friend a work had told him that's where we should stay and that it was charming and cheaper than Amsterdam. He'll enjoy the pictures when he reads tonight and then will yell at me, "I TOLD you we should stay in Haarlem!" Plus, he decided that he liked Hals paintings.

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth said...

oh how i miss the charm of europe!! i love your photos, even though they make me a little sad inside (my semester abroad ended way too soon and feels like a life-time ago).