The magical street scenes of Hindeloopen feature cosy little streets and wooden bridges over narrow canals. The many art studios lend the old Elfstedenstad (Friesian Eleven city) a colourful appeal. The old harbour with its cosy terraces is a popular destination for many people.
Hindeloopen was at one time a closed community with its own culture, language and unique traditional costume. The town was, and still is known within The Netherlands and beyond because of its ornately painted furniture and other items. This special folk art made the city extremely prosperous in the 17th and 18th, which is still visible in the grand captains’ residences.
Other remarkable buildings include the Hidde Nijland Museum, the lock house dating back to 1619 with its ‘liars’ bench’, the Reformed church dating back to 1632, and the Westertoren structure from 1593.
Elfstedenstad (Friesian Eleven city) with unique character
Hindeloopen is one van the smaller Friesian Elfsteden, and yet it has its own distinct character. This is expressed through its unique history, a distinct way of life, a colourful traditional costume and its own language.
Amsterdam, Scandinavia and Russia
In the 17th and 18th century, the majority of the male population of Hindeloopen was employed within the trade and seafaring activities to Scandinavia and Russia. Partly due to its ties with the metropolis of Amsterdam, Hindeloopen went on to flourish in the 17th and 18th century. The city had a sizeable fleet of over 100 ships that sailed all over the globe, and in its heyday, it numbered approximately 2300 residents as opposed to somewhere in the region of 850 today.
From key trading post to tourist destination
In the 19th century, the boom period came to an end. The tradesmen and skippers left for Amsterdam, and Hindeloopen became an impoverished fishing town.
Over the course of the 20th century, the fortunes of Hindeloopen seemed to transform for the better, due to the rise in tourism. Within the city itself, there are still many remnants to be found that reveal the heyday of Hindeloopen. For instance, there are a number of commanders’ houses with the typical likhúzen at the back: the summerhouses of the commanders’ wives, where they would live with their children during the summertime during those times when their husbands were away at sea.
More interesting details about the lifestyle in Hindeloopen throughout the centuries are on display at the Museum Hindeloopen. The harbour is still the place where a large part of daily life takes place. At the harbour, you will find the Sylhús (the lock-keeper’s house) with the characteristic bascule bridge. The ‘liars’ bench’, which was built as an attachment to the Sylhús, is the meeting point for the male population of Hindeloopen.
Stylish traditional costume & painting
In former times, Hindeloopen had its own traditional costume. These days, only the folkloric song and dance group “Aald Hielpen” wears the traditional costume during its performances in Hindeloopen or much further afield. The Hindelooper way of painting is also known the world over.
A walk through the old centre of town will take you past some wonderful authentic city residences and details. Some of the local attractions include:
- Sylhús (lock-keeper’s house)
- Leugenbank (Liars’ bench)
- KNRM (Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution)
- Doopsgezinde kerk “The Kleine Vermaning” (Mennonite Church)
- Doopsgezinde kerk “The Grote Vermaning” (Mennonite Church)
- Whalers’ homes & Likhûzen
- Nederlands Hervormde kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) & Westertoren (Western Tower)
- Former town hall / Museum Hindeloopen
- Old town hall
- Bascule bridge
- Vondelingenplein (foundling square)
- Monument on the harbour quay
Wind or kite surfing is a water sport that generates a lot of fun and adrenaline for people of all ages. The kite and surfing spot at Hindeloopen is one of the key spots for (kite) surfing along the Friesian IJsselmeer coast.