Haarlem (predecessor of Harlem in the English language) is a city and municipality in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland and is situated at the northern edge of the Randstad, one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Haarlem had a population of 155,758 in 2014. It is a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam, and many residents commute to the country’s capital for work.
Haarlem was granted city status or stadsrechten in 1245, although the first city walls were not built until 1270. The modern city encompasses the former municipality of Schoten as well as parts that previously belonged to Bloemendaal and Heemstede. Apart from the city, the municipality of Haarlem also includes the western part of the village of Spaarndam. Newer sections of Spaarndam lie within the neighbouring municipality of Haarlemmerliede en Spaarnwoude.
There are several museums in Haarlem. The Teylers Museum lies on the Spaarne River and is the oldest museum of the Netherlands. Its main subjects are art, science and natural history, and it owns a number of works by Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Another museum is the Frans Hals Museum of fine arts, with its main location housing Dutch master paintings, and its exhibition halls on the Grote Markt housing a gallery for modern art called De Hallen. Also on the Grote Markt, in the cellar of the Vleeshal is the Archeologisch Museum Haarlem, while across the square on Saturdays, the Hoofdwacht building is open with exhibitions on Haarlem history. Other museums are Het Dolhuys (a museum of psychiatry), the Ten Boom Museum (a hiding place for Jews in World War II) and the Historisch Museum Haarlem, across from the Frans Hals Museum.
Every year in April the bloemencorso (flower parade) takes place. Floats decorated with flowers drive from Noordwijk to Haarlem, where they are exhibited for one day. In the same month there is also a funfair organised on the Grote Markt and the Zaanenlaan in Haarlem-Noord. Other festivals are held on the Grote Markt as well, in particular the annual Haarlem Jazz & More (formerly known as Haarlem Jazzstad), a music festival, and Haarlem Culinair, a culinary event, as well as the biannual Haarlemse Stripdagen (Haarlem comic days). Bevrijdingspop is a music festival to celebrate the Dutch liberation from the Nazis after World War II. It is held every year on 5 May, the day that the Netherlands were liberated in 1945, at the Haarlemmerhout. At the same location, the Haarlemmerhoutfestival is also held every year, which is a music and theatre festival.
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