Earth : Europe : Benelux : Netherlands : Western Netherlands : North Holland : Kop van Noord-Holland : Hoorn
Hoorn  is an old city in the Dutch province of North-Holland, just north of Amsterdam. The city is situated on the shores of Lake Marker (the previous Zuiderzee which was - until 1932 - an inland arm of the North Sea) and is twinned with Pribram in the Czech Republic.
The oldest remnants of human inhabitation on Hoorn's location that surfaced during archeological diggings, date back to around the year 1200. It's likely that there was a town that carried the name Hoorn before that era, but was moved up the coast as floodings kept occurring until people started to build dikes to block out the water. What we do know, is that trade with countries along the Eastsea and with Flanders already took place around 1300. In 1356, the city obtained a so-called City Status, or City Rights. Such a status gave a town the right to implement its own legal system in terms of local laws and enforcement, and to introduce its own taxes.
From then on, the city florished and became one of the wealthiest towns on the Zuiderzee. In the 15th century, the development of the city went head-to-head with Amsterdam. In the 17th century, Hoorn became one of the six Dutch cities where the United Eastindies Company (VOC) had a chamber, which meant a massive economic boost. Warehouses, wharfs and large harbours made the town boom and play a role of global significance. Two ships from Hoorn were the first ships to sail around the southernmost point of South-America, naming it Cape Horn.
In 1799, the VOC seized to exist and economic activity went down. Trade was now based on agriculture, rather than spices and herbs from far-flung colonies. There wasn't much activity going on: the harbours decayed and merchantmen would moor in other towns where facilities were kept up-to-date.
Throughout the centuries that followed, Hoorn focused on its role in the region rather than in the world. The regional produce was weighed and traded in Hoorn, cattle was traded, the railways arrived in the 1880's and several regional institutions found shelter in town. In 1966, Hoorn was appointed to become a city of growth, to help Amsterdam getting rid of its housing shortages. This meant that many people whom often lived in tiny apartments in Amsterdam, could now move to towns like Hoorn and finally live in a townhouse with a front- and backyard. Employment didn't keep up with the influx of people, causing the new inhabitants to remain in their Amsterdam jobs. The current status of the town is therefore a grey area. It's a commuter suburb of Amsterdam to some, an independent city with a proud history to others.
The nearest airport is in Amsterdam, which is served by airlines and destinations from around the world. The airport has a direct train service into Hoorn, which leaves half-hourly and will cost €9.30 one-way in 2nd class, or €15.80 one-way in 1st class. The train ride takes about 45 minutes. A taxi from Schiphol Airport will cost well in excess of €100.
The A7 (E22) freeway passes Hoorn on the west side of town. Two exits (8 and 9) service the city. Exit 8 will take you to the city center.
Hoorn has two railway stations: Hoorn and Hoorn Kersenboogerd. The latter is located in a neighborhood and is merely a commuter station. Hoorn Station, on the other hand, is the town's main railway and bus station and is situated directly on the edge of the old town center. Express and regional trains serve Hoorn from Enkhuizen, Amsterdam, Alkmaar, Haarlem, Schiphol Airport and Amersfoort. Most international train services will arrive at Amsterdam Centraal, where you can change to an express train which leaves half-hourly and takes thirty minutes. An one-way ticket from Amsterdam Central Station to Hoorn will cost €7.60 in 2nd class, and €12.90 in 1st class.
A word of caution: The ticket machines at Amsterdam Central Station and Schiphol Airport accept Visa and MasterCard, but the ticket machines at Hoorn station - despite this being the era of digitization - don't accept any cards that work on Scheme, the transaction infrastructure for credit cards. Major European bank cards that work on Maestro will work and many ticket machines also accept coins. Hoorn station also has a ticket window, but this will cost €0.50 extra and has limited opening hours. If you need to buy a return ticket and depend on your credit card, buy an undated return ticket (by buying two one-way tickets) that you can then validate in the yellow stamp machines at Hoorn station prior to your train journey.
There are no national or international bus services going into Hoorn. There's an half-hourly bus (route 314) connection between Amsterdam Central Station and Hoorn, which also stops in Edam. One-way costs €6.22, but since you'll have to obtain a Public Transport Chip Card you can add another €7.50 to that amount. The ride takes close to one hour. There are regional buses leaving from Hoorn bus station.
Hoorn's compact medieval centre is home to too many beautiful late medieval buildings to mention. Within walking distance of each other you can find: