With 21 unique examples, Haarlem is truly a city of ‘hofjes’. These courtyards surrounded by almshouses (charitable housing) hark back to a bygone era when wealthy members of society founded them to house poor, unmarried or widowed women.
The women lived in the small ‘houses’, which all looked out on a shared courtyard garden. The entrance to the courtyard was often richly decorated and locked at night. Many of these hofjes have been modernised or removed altogether, but you can still spot some of the old entrances – such as in the Jansstraat, opposite the court.
Old and new hand-in-hand
The oldest and most modern hofjes in the country are located next to each other in the centre of Haarlem. The oldest remaining example is the Hofje van Bakenes, founded in 1395 by Dirc van Bakenes. The Johan Enschedéhofje is the latest addition, completed in 2007 to a design by Joost Swarte and Henk Döll. This hofje is named after the Johan Enschedé printing company which once stood here.
Most of the city’s hofjes are free to visit between 10:00 and 17:00. Please note that that hofjes are closed on Sundays.