Hoorn  is a town in the Kop van Noord-Holland in the Dutch province of North-Holland. It is one of the largest harbours on the IJsselmeer, and it is the largest town and unofficial capital of the region of West-Friesland. Hoorn has an attractive city centre with many historic buildings dating from the 17th century, and it is a major centre for watersports on the IJsselmeer.
Hoorn was probably founded around the year 1200, and quickly gained in importance as a harbour town in the 14th century, developing trade links with the Baltic and Flanders. In 1356 Hoorn became a chartered city, and continued to prosper. It became one the most important and wealthiest towns on the Zuiderzee, and it was even competing with Amsterdam. Hoorn's importance was emphasized in the 17th century as the one of the six cities with a chamber of the Dutch East-Indies Company VOC. The town boasted numerous warehouses and shipyards, and ships from Hoorn sailed all around the world - Cape Horn was named after the town when two ships from Hoorn were the first to sail around the southernmost tip of South America in 1616.
In the 18th century, the economy of the Dutch Republic gradually declined, and Hoorn lost its international position. Trade from then on focused on agricultural products and cattle.
Since the 1960s, when it was designated as a suburban development area, Hoorn became more and more of a commuter town of Amsterdam. This has gone at the expense of building extensive and rather boring suburbs. The city centre however has largely escaped restructuring, and is very well preserved. Today, Hoorn has some 70,000 inhabitants and remains an important regional centre.
The region of West-Friesland
Hoorn is the largest town in the region of West-Friesland, an area that retains a number of distinctive characteristics. As its name betrays, it has historical links with the province of Friesland on the eastern shore of the IJsselmeer. Its dialect is also closely related to the Frisian language. The region is geographically defined by its enclosure dike, the Westfriese Omringdijk, and covers an area of approximately 780km². It is a predominantly agricultural region, with characteristic bell-shaped farmhouses and typical linear villages. Apart from Hoorn, there are two more towns in the region, Enkhuizen and Medemblik - the latter has remained very small. West-Friesland is one of the areas in the predominantly protestant north of the Netherlands where the Roman Catholic faith remained the most popular religion.
A typical custom of the region is luilak (although this is celebrated in other regions of North-Holland as well). On the Saturday before Pentecost, youngsters will make lots of noise in the early morning to wake up the population.
The A7 trunk road passes west of Hoorn and connects to Amsterdam in the south and to the province of Friesland in the north. From Amsterdam, take the A10 ring road, take the A8 in the direction of Zaandam, and then the A7 to Hoorn. Take exit 8 to reach town centre (travel time approx. 35 minutes). Hoorn's town centre is partly pedestrianised, and parking is paid, with different rates applied in different areas. More information on parking options can be found on the website of the municipality (in Dutch only).
Hoorn is easily reached by train from Amsterdam, and has direct train connections to Enkhuizen, Alkmaar, Haarlem, Schiphol Airport and Amersfoort. Please be aware that Hoorn has two train stations: the Hoorn Kersenboogerd station is out of town centre. For more information on timetables and tickets, see the website of NS. Travel time from Amsterdam Central Station is approx. 30 minutes. Single fare €8 with OV-chipkaart.
Bus 314 (operated by EBS) connects Amsterdam to Hoorn via Edam. It is however much slower than taking the train (approx. 1 hour travel time). Single fare €6.99 with OV-chipkaart.
For experienced bikers, a day trip from Amsterdam to Hoorn can be a very nice experience, especially when taking the route along the IJsselmeer. Total distance is approx. 45 km (2h15 min).
Of course, since Hoorn is a harbour town, you can also go by boat.
Hoorn's compact historical centre is designated a Protected Cityscape, with many buildings dating from the 16th and 17th century, including 383 National Monuments. Especially noteworthy are the charming gable stones; after Amsterdam and Maastricht, Hoorn has the largest number of them in the Netherlands.
Hoorn has a weekly street market in the city centre on Saturdays from 8AM - 5PM, with both food and non-food stalls. Every last Sunday of the month most shops are open from 12AM - 5PM as well. Sometimes this coincides with special events and street markets.
Hoorn has over 70 eating places in all styles and for all budgets.
Nearby destinations include: