As many places in the world that have really attracted many tourists because of their heritage and history, Alkmaar holds its position in that arena.
Alkmaar as a city motivated the South African Dutch settlers to name it to a place they settled in in South Africa. The river banks area on the crocodile filled Mpumalanga river in South Africa was named Alkmaar in reflection of the glorious and victorious Dutch North Holland City of Alkmaar found in The Netherlands which the world knows as one of the proud Dutch cities that are well known for cheese production. But one can ask him or her self why would the Dutch settlers in South Africa go on to proudly name this place in South Africa on the banks of river Mpumalanga Alkmaar? It should really be a strong reason that propelled them to do so and it is why FBE would like to explore what makes Alkmaar really a respected and special city of The Netherlands that a tourist should add on his or her bucket list.
Alkmaar also in the medieval time called Alckmar, can be dated way back to the 10th century when its name is assumed to have first mentioned and documented. Around 1254, Alkmaar is believed to have gained the status of a city growing from a simple town. This wonderful city to date can be seen as a city that holds the old and modern times as it is divided into two parts The old city side and the modern city side all seperated by a small white bridge . The oldest part lies on an ancient sand bank also refereed to as a dike that afforded some protection from inundation or water rising during medieval times. This part consists of some of the oldest polders in existence.
As the city saw its flourishing, in 1573 it underwent a siege by the Spanish forces under the leadership of Don Fadrique, son of the Duke of Alva. The citizens sent urgent messages for help to the Prince of Orange who responded by promising to open the floodgates of the dikes and flood the region if the need arose, which despite the protestations of the peasantry, fearful for their harvest, he proceeded to do. Unfortunately parts of this old city fell into the hands of Don Fadrique. However with the waters beginning to rise, the Spaniards abandoned the siege and fled out of the city. This was on the side of the peasants of Alkmaar a very favoring turning point in the war that had spanned for eight years leaving the city in shambles. With this turning point, the inhabitants of Alkmaar by then came up with a glorifying slogan “Bij Alkmaar begint de victorie” which means Victory begins at Alkmaar. This event is up to date is still celebrated every year in Alkmaar on 8 October which marks the end of the Spanish siege on the city of Alkmaar. Some of the remarkable monuments that are outstanding in this city is the Molen van Piet (Mill of Piet) built in 1769 serving as a corn mill and in 1993 the mill started to run for the Prince. It is lately a typical city mill, beautifully situated on the Singel in Alkmaar, where many tourists can enter the city from the Kennemerstraatweg. With its majestically rotating blades, the mill draws all the attention not only for inhabitants of Alkmaar but also to the tourist that come to tour the city.
It should be noted that this city was in the medieval times and the times that followed invaded a lot because it was considered a very key turning point in trade not forgetting its brand famous cheese product, and as such it attracted a lot of invaders. For example In 1799, during the French revolutionary wars, an Anglo-Russian expeditionary force captured the city but was ultimately defeated in the Battle of Castricum. The French victory was commemorated on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as “Alkmaer”. In the past and some times in the present times if someone is born or resides in this city, that person was or is referred to as a “Cheese Head” but a tourist is not recommended not to use such a word as to some people it might sound as an insult but to some it is pride.
Among the features that have from time to time elevated the city’s image in the international spectrum is the North Holland Canal which was opened in 1824. It was dug through Alkmaar. Also in 1865 and 1867 the railways between Alkmaar and Den Helder and between Alkmaar and Haarlem were built respectively.
Because of the speedy and the rapid development of Alkmaar into one of North Holland’s mega city by the half of the 20th Century,the city expanded quickly with development of new neighborhoods. On 1 October 1972, the town of Ouddorp and the southern parts of Koedijk and Sint Pancras were added to the municipality of Alkmaar.
Many medieval buildings that are still intact, most notably the tall tower of the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk (Kerk means church). Here many people from Alkmaar hold their wedding ceremonies. The other main attraction, especially in the summer months, is Alkmaar’s cheese market at the Waagplein, one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. The cheese market traditionally takes place on the first Friday in April and the last market of the season is the first Friday in September every year. Every Friday morning (10:00 am–12:30 pm) the Waagplein is the venue for this wonderful city’s historical traditional cheese market (Kaasmarkt)
After the old styled way of the hand clap, traders and carriers will weigh the cheeses of various varieties and taste. It is one of only four traditional Dutch cheese markets still in existence. The traditional fare of this cheese market is those cheeses made in the local area, as opposed to the well-known brands of Dutch cheeses, including the cheeses from places like Edam and Gouda who are also famous and recognized in that section . It is not actually possible to buy cheese at the market itself, which is really only a demonstration of how this merchants’ market operated in times gone by. However, the demonstration, which takes place in front of the medieval weighing house, is surrounded by many specialized stalls where it is possible to buy all kinds of cheese (and non-cheese) related products. A tourist or any passer by will have the opportunity to taste the cheese even before he or she buys it. A tactic that has helped to keep the function warm and interesting.
At the Waag located at the Waagplein itself is the home to Alkmaar’s local tourist office and a cheese museum. Alkmaar has 399 registered rijksmonuments, of which most are situated along the city’s old canals. With the booming tourism sector in Alkmaar, there has been the introduction of tourist boat canal cruises which are sold in packages according to the tourist’s needs. From these boat canal cruises one is able to see most of the monuments around the city of Alkmaar through the old and modern sides of the city with the support of guides who are good translators in various international languages such as English, Spanish, French, German among others.
Alkmaar is among the cities in the Netherlands that have a gazetted area referred to as a Red light district called Achterdam. In this area, it is legal for sex workers to provide their services to the public as they have licence to do so. This city respects all the rights of people to the extent that each year it holds canal pride celebrations.
Other places in Alkmaar recommended for tourists are;
- Beatles Museum dedicated to The Beatles, as John Lennon’s first guitar was made in Alkmaar
- Holland Cheese Museum located in the historic weigh house
- National Beer Museum “De Boom”
- Op Art Museum
- City Museum Alkmaar for history of the city.
It is also advisable that a tourist can look for offers on activities in the city from;
Go City Card-www.smartdestinations.com, which has multi-attraction passes that save travelers and tourists 55% off combined admission prices at top attractions, tours, museums, and more in 15 cities. Flexible purchase options make sightseeing easy and affordable for every type of traveler and tourist,
TicketNetwork-www.ticketnetwork.com, which is an online ticket exchange where sellers list tickets to sports, theater, and concert events around the world. and last but not least
Tiqets-www.tiqets.com, Which the biggest online ticketing platforms in the world that offers directly bookable, instantly available and completely mobile tickets for museums, shows and attractions all over the world. Including cities like Dubai, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, New York and many more.
From the Schipol Airport Amsterdam to Alkmaar train Station it is just 37 kilometers. A tourist can easily travel by train from the airport which connects through Amsterdam to Alkmaar. Tickets are easily attained from various ticket automated machines or ticket offices. Otherwise one can buy such tickets from www.goeuro.com and www.raileurope.com that have a variety of tickets for trains, buses, and flights.
Airport Transfers are also possible from Schipol Airport Amsterdam to any destination. Using services from Intui.travel-www.intui.travel and Kiwitaxi would be a very cost effective way to fully enjoy budgeted transfers for any tourist.
Moving in Alkmaar, for a tourist it is easier with a bicycle as this will give tourist an upper hand to carefully see and observe a lot in the city. With services from www.bikesbooking.com it is easy to find a bicycle to rent in the city of Alkmaar.
Also renting a car for a self drive around the city and its vicinity is very possible. Companies like Autoeurope-www.autoeurope.com, Myrentacar-www.myrentacar.com, and Economy bookings-www.economybookings.com can be of great deal to a tourist who wants to tour the city and its surroundings on budget.
Tourist can opt to book online for their desired places of accommodation in Alkmaar. They can also easily switch these hotels if they desire to by using these following services;
- Booking.com-Which is Planet Earth’s number one accommodation site, Why travelers and tourists should use this offer is that Booking.com guarantees the best prices for any type of property, ranging from campsites to five-star luxury properties for all the travelers and tourist with excellent availability and a best rate guarantee,real time reservation process with on-screen confirmation and direct email confirmation,multilingual content (40 languages) and currency conversion included,no booking fees ever,unique direct long-term relationship with more than 900,000 plus accommodations,87,000,000 plus verified guest reviews from actual guests themselves.
- Hotelook-www.hotellook.comWhich allows a traveler to find and compare worldwide hotel prices provided by leading reservation systems. Hotellook provides aggregated information on more than 250,000 hotels in 205 countries around the world working together with more than 10 online reservation systems such as Booking.com, Agoda.com, Hotels.com, and Expedia with the main purpose to make your trip is not only interesting and full of exciting adventures, but also cost effective.
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