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Haarlem's Secret Gardens

Bakenesserkamer: the oldest hofje

Hofje van Oirschot

The secret gardens of Haarlem, or 'Haarlemse Hofjes' can be found in various secluded courtyards dotted around the historic centre of town.

Normally hidden from public view, these gardens are linked to a form of protected housing perhaps unique to Holland. A typical hofje contains a central, well-kept courtyard garden surrounded by small houses. They were founded by wealthy burgers and intended as homes for the aged and poor. At that time, only women were accepted as only they could be trusted to run their own household properly.

The oldest surviving hofje in Holland - the Bakkenesserkamer - dates from the 14th century and is to be found in Haarlem. There are currently more than twenty such hofjes in Haarlem, from the original Bakkenesserkamer right up to the newest addition, de Gravinnehof (known as the 21st century Hofje), opened in 2001. They are usually named for their founders, who thus secured a small place in Haarlem's history.

Visits should be arranged in advance as most hofjes are in active use. There is a tradition of silence in the hofjes so voices should be kept down as a mark of respect. Here is a selection of Hofjes located near the centre of Haarlem:

  • Bakenesserkamer - Wijde Appelaarsteeg 11
    Built in 1395. The oldest surviving hofje in Holland, founded by Dirck van Bakenes.
  • Bruinings Hofje - Botermarkt 9
    Built in 1610
  • Frans Loenenhofje - Witte Herenstraat 24
    Built in 1606 on a monastery site.
  • Gravinnehof - Spaarne 100/102
    The newest, built in 2001. Don't miss the ceiling painting in the entrance hall.
  • In den Groenen Tuyn - Warmoesstraat 23
    Built in 1616, restored in 1987.
  • Hofje Guurtje de Wael - Lange Annastraat 40
    Built in 1616.
  • Hofje van Loo - Barrevoetestraat 7
    Built in 1489.
  • Luthers Hofje - Witte Herenstraat 20
    Built around 1615.
  • Hofje van Noblet - Nieuwe Gracht 2
    Built in 1760. Along with the Hofje van Oirschot one of the few with a garden visible from the street. The Regent's room (the Warden's) is a must-see.
  • Hofje van Oirschot - Kruisstraat 44A
    Built in 1769. Along with the Hofje van Noblet one of the few with a garden visible from the street.
  • Remonstrantshofje - Ursulastraat 16
    Built in 1773 on the site of the old St Ursula's monastery
  • Hofje van Staats - Jansweg 39
    One of the larger hofjes, built in the early 18th century. The old mortuary is now a bicycle shed!
  • Teylers Hofje - Koudenhorn 64
    Built in 1787 from money bequeathed by Pieter Teyler van der Hulst (who also bequeathed the money for the Teyler Museum).
  • Wijnbergshofje - Barrevoetestraat 4
    Built in 1662, renovated in 1872.
  • Hofje van Willem Heythuijsen - Kleine Houtweg 135
    Built in 1650. One of the few built outside the old city walls.
  • Zuiderhofje - Zuiderstraat 12
    Built in 1640, renovated completely in 1891.