Three centuries ago, Hindeloopen grew to become a key trading post. The village had a large fleet comprising more than 100 ships that sailed all over the globe. Hindeloopen to this day is a very appealing village for visitors, and many of its characteristic houses have remained intact. The harbour, the structure of the town with its narrow streets, the stylish traditional costume, the typical Hindeloopen decorative way of painting, the characteristic gables, the small likhúsjes and the many wooden bridges are all worthwhile attractions.
In 1225, Hindeloopen was granted its town charter, which makes it one of the Frisian Eleven Towns. With the number of residents totalling just under 900, it is one of the smaller town of the eleven.
There are another two Elfsteden towns within walking/cycling distance, namely Workum and Stavoren. Both towns are also accessible from Hindeloopen by train and definitely worth a visit.
In the most south-westerly tip of Friesland lies Stavoren, the oldest town of the Frisian Eleven Towns, which was at one time the home port of the Frisian Kings and seafarers. Shipping and the trade with overseas territories brought a great deal of prosperity to Stavoren, which is also one of the reasons why it is considered a Hanseatic League town. After the 18th century, Stavoren suffered many setbacks; the greatest of which is recounted in the legend of the ‘The Vrouwtje van Stavoren’ (the little lady of Stavoren), who, it is said, still stares out over the Old Harbour.
These days, water sports form the most popular pastime in Stavoren. Stavoren is located directly on both the IJsselmeer lake and the Frisian inland waterways. It is lively and fun in the summer months, and the town is a popular mooring destination. The fishing vessels and the ‘brown fleet’ are on display at the Old Port and Rail Port.
The impressive ‘J.L. Hoogland pumping station’, which ensures the drainage for the Frisian surface water to the Ijsselmeer lake, is in non-stop operation throughout the entire year.
Workum, like Hindeloopen and Stavoren, is situated directly on the IJsselmeer lake, and also has a direct connection to the Friese Meren lakes. Workum received its town charter in 1399, making it one of the newest of the Frisian eleven towns. One section of Workum is a conservation area, and forms one of the protected town and villagescapes in Friesland. Workum has enough to please every kind of visitor: from the paintings by Jopie Huisman to vibrant terraces, and from gilded biers to a wealth of cultural assets. You can enjoy the wonderful paintings by the rag and bone man Jopie Huisman, but the building is also a museum where you can learn about the rich history of Workum. A walk through the old centre is an attraction in itself, where you can see rows of striking listed buildings and gables side by side.
Hindeloopen is a small town with a variety of attractions, such as:
- The Westertoren tower dating back to 1593
- The Grote Kerk church dating back to 1632
- The former town hall dating back to 1632, which is now home to the Hidde Nijland Museum
- The Hindelooper Schaatsmuseum (skating museum), which is housed in a characteristic Hindelooper structure
- The former Port Building, which is now a Lock House, with its open belfry tower, dating back to 1619
- The former covered fish auction dating back to 1785, now a Leugenbank (liars’ bench)
- A facade carving dating back to 1911, the ‘Wonderbare visvangst’ (incredible fish haul), at the Lock House
- The old fishing harbour in 2006, reconstructed to resemble the harbour dating back to 1934