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Noord-Holland, or North Holland in English, is one of the Netherlands' 12 provinces, located in the westernmost part of the country. The province comprises a peninsula with the North Sea to the west, the Waddenzee to the north, and the IJsselmeer to the east. Additionally, the island of Texel contributes to North Holland's territory. The local landscape is mainly composed of low fenland with dunes and river clays. Sand dunes found along the shores form a protection for the inland regions.[5] There are two national parks located within the Noord-Holland borders, the Duinen van Texel National Park and the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park. The Zuid-Kennemerland features walking and biking trails that horseback riders can utilize as well.[14] However, the predominant attraction of the region is the city of Amsterdam, which is the most populous city and the capital of the Netherlands. Some of the local attractions include the Anne Frank House, the UNESCO-protected canal area, and the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, to name a few.[8] Despite Amsterdam being the largest city, Haarlem is appointed as the province's capital. Haarlem is a historic town that has been the residence of the Counts of Holland since the 11th century. In today's time, Haarlem is known as the center of Holland's flower-growing region.[3]

What Noord-Holland is known for

The largest city in the North Holland region is Amsterdam. Deemed the most populous city in all of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is often nicknamed the "Venice of the north" due to its abundance of city canals.[8] UNESCO now protects the canal area of the Netherlands capital as a world heritage site. The medieval port of the canal ring area, built at the end of the 16th century, encircles Amsterdam's old town. Construction of the canal area was a long-term program, which became a model of large-scale town planning, serving as a reference for other cities around the world until the 19th century.[9] Apart from the canals, other Amsterdam attractions include the state museum called Rijksmuseum, featuring a collection of Dutch Golden Age artworks. There is also the Van Gogh Museum, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam found at Dam Square, and the Amsterdam Museum, among other sites.[8] The Anne Frank House, where Anne Frank lived and hid with her family for more than two years, is another notable destination in the city. The house features a secret annex hidden behind the revolving cabinet, where Anne Frank hid with her family from Nazis during the Second World War. On account of her journal entries, the story of Anne Frank has become fairly well-known, and the house presently serves as a museum with an exhibition about the discrimination and persecution of the Jews during the war.[10] Additionally, in the Amsterdam city center is where Heineken's historic brewery is located, which today serves as a museum that is open to tourists.[11]

Apart from the historical sites in Amsterdam, there are other attractions within North Holland's borders. The Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar exhibits over 12,000 art pieces that emphasize the city's art history.[12] Tourists that are interested in Amsterdam's history can also take a ride on a Museum Steam Tram. The tram ride starts in Hoorn and continues along the "historic triangle" to the town of Medemblik, and from there, tourists are boarded onto a boat that takes them to the Enkhuizen across the IJsselmeer lake.[13] For those who are drawn to outdoor recreational activities, the city encompasses national parks and nature preserves that visitors can access. Zuid-Kennemerland National Park features a considerable number of footpaths, biking tracks, and bridle paths, as well as horseback riding tours.[14]


North Holland is found in the northwestern part of the Netherlands on the shores of the North Sea. The province's territory is formed by a peninsula between the North Sea, the Wadden Sea, the IJsselmeer, and the Markermeer, with more than half of the province's area consisting of land reclaimed from the sea. Thus, more than half of the province lies below sea level. Moreover, several isles are part of the province as well—namely, the West Frisian islands of Noorderhaaks and Texel.[15]

Concerning local nature, the landscape is mainly composed of low fenland with dunes and sea and river clays, with most of the area being drained by the Zaan, Amstel, and Vecht rivers. The inland regions are protected from the sea by an unbroken chain of sand dunes along the seashore. Located behind the sandy inner dunes are bulb fields of hyacinths, tulips, narcissus, and crocuses.[5] There are two national parks situated in the Noord-Holland borders. One of them, the Duinen van Texel National Park, is found on the western shore of Texel. The other, Zuid-Kennemerland National Park, is found on the shores of the North Sea, to the west of the city of Haarlem. Zuid-Kennemerland features a variety of landscapes, ranging from dunes, forests, mossy areas, thickets, and grasses, to the coastal regions of the North Sea.[6]

Regarding the temperatures in Noord-Holland's capital, Haarlem, the warmest month is August, with an average daily temperature of 23°C. Reportedly, January is the coldest month, with temperatures typically resting around 6°C. April tends to be the driest month in Haarlem due to it receiving 40 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during December, receiving an average of about 86 mm.[7]


Noord-Holland has been historically part of the Holland province, which existed since the 10th century and encompassed nearly both of the territories of today’s North and South Holland provinces. Holland was part of the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the Counts of Holland until the 16th century. By the 17th century, Holland gained maritime and economic power, dominating the rest of the Dutch Republic, as the province included three of the arguably predominant Dutch cities: Amsterdam (capital), Rotterdam (Europe’s largest port), and Hague (the seat of government).[1]

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the borders and organization of Holland frequently changed, with the province splitting and reuniting several times. The ultimate division of Holland took place in 1840 when the territory was divided into North Holland and South Holland. Later, in 1855, the Haarlemmermeer was reclaimed from water and turned into arable land, which became part of North Holland. After that, several other territorial changes took place in the province.[2]

Despite Amsterdam being the Netherlands’ capital and the province’s largest city, the capital of North Holland is Haarlem. Since the 11th century, Haarlem has been the residence of the Counts of Holland. Nowadays, the city is known as "the centre of the flower-growing region of Holland," supplying "bulbs to every country in Europe, North America and the rest of the world."[3] Beyond Haarlem, other historical cities can be found within North Holland’s borders. Alkmaar, known primarily for its cheese production, was established in 939. Zaanse Schans on the river Zaan features a museum village, which is currently inhabited by local people. The town also includes 17th- and 18th-century wooden houses and windmills.[4]

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