2011 HA HAARLEM
It’s a city with many stories to tell, from trade, growth and culture through to the disaster of a great fire that destroyed some 500 buildings in 1576. Many major monuments remain intact, however, including the Amsterdamse Poort (a city gate dating from 1355), the City Hall (from 1250) and the Sint-Bavokerk (officially a cathedral since 1559). It’s no wonder that so many renowned painters of the Golden Age took inspiration from the city and its serene surroundings, including its own Frans Hals, who now has a museum dedicated to his work (the Frans Hals Museum). A more recent attraction in Haarlem is its spectacular Jugendstil train station, and the city is a distinguished hub for dining, drinks and shopping.