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map of HollandAlkmaar is a town in North Holland Province, on the North Holland Canal, near Amsterdam. Its pretty, partly canalized centre is surrounded by water and offers an undemanding provincialism.

Alkmaar is typical of small towns in Holland.

sightseeing boat on canal The town was established in 939 and given a charter in 1254 by the then reigning Count Floris V. When, in 1573, Alkmaar was besieged by the Spanish, the city was defended from its surrounding rampart with boiling tar and burning branches. The end was "Victory for Alkmaar".

In October 1799, during the Napoleonic Wars, the commander in chief of the Anglo-Russian army in the Netherlands signed the French terms of capitulation in Alkmaar after an an unsuccesful campaign to overthrow the Batavian Republic.

Alkmaar is a trading centre for cattle, corn, and dairy products; cheese is a major export and the town is famous for its cheese market.The market is held on Fridays from April to October and attracts thousands of tourists every year.

click the image to see the larger picture

Well-known landmarks are: the Weighhouse, rebuilt in 1582 from a 14th century chapel, with a carrillon tower and St.Lawrence's Church (1470-1520), with one of the oldest organs in the Netherlands (1511). Other historic buildings include the town hall (1520), the 16th-century Sonoy Court (Hof van Sonoy), and several almshouses.

Population (2000 estimate) 92,977.

Surface area 31,21 km2; Water surface area 1,19 km2

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