Location: North Holland Map


Description of Heemskerk

Heemskerk is a small historic town situated in a province of North Holland in Netherlands. It is famous for numerous medieval structures as well as military fortification known as Fort Veldhuis that was constructed in the late 19th century. Heemskerk is a municipality and city in the Dutch province of North Holland about 22 km northwest of Amsterdam. The center is located about six kilometers east of the North Sea coast, eleven kilometers west of Zaanstad, three kilometers north of Beverwijk and 14 kilometers south of Alkmaar. The municipality consists of the homonymous city Heemskerk and from the districts Heemskerkerduin, Waterakkers, Noorddorp, Assumburg, De Maer and Zuidbroek. On August 31, 2017, it had 39,092 inhabitants and an area of 27.43 km ², of which 1.11 km ² consists of water surfaces. The highest point is a 25 meter high dune in the well five kilometers wide and partially wooded dune belt between the North Sea beach and the town center.



The first traces of habitation in Heemskerk date from a few centuries before the beginning of our era. During excavations at Jan Ligthartstraat in 2004 footprints and wells were found.

Middle Ages - The six castles
It is not possible to say with certainty where the name Heemskerk comes from. Heemskerk was already known in the Middle Ages. In an official document from the year 1063 she was mentioned as "Hemezen Kyrica", Latinized Frisian for "Church of Hemezen", a Frisian nun who is said to have a monastery there.

Heemskerk has many historical monuments, including the Huldtoneel, an artificial hill on what is now the Rijksstraatweg, where the Counts of Holland were once inaugurated. Tradition has it that the Huldtoneel was already set up as a Germanic holy place before Roman times. In the 19th century, Jonkheer Gevers eventually turned the Huldtoneel into a monument - as we know it today - and ordered passers-by to respect the monument.

Heemskerk has also been a battleground on many occasions. There used to be six castles in Heemskerk. Two castles - Oud Haerlem Castle and Heemskerk Castle - were built in the 12th and 13th centuries to protect the County of Holland against the West Frisians. Assumburg Castle also originally dates from this time. There is nothing left of Oud Haerlem Castle, Castle Merestein, Castle Rietwijk, and Castle Poelenburg (shown on a map from 1728).

In the 14th century, the Siege of Heemskerk took place in 1358-1359 and in the 15th century the inhabitants of Oud Haerlem Castle and Heemskerk Castle faced each other during the Hoekse and Kabeljauwse disputes. Both castles were destroyed. Oud Haerlem was no longer rebuilt, but Castle Heemskerk was. In 1492, in the cemetery of the current Reformed Church, the Revolt of the Cheese and Bread People was bloody suppressed by the Austrian rulers.

In 1610, the Heemskerk Castle was named Castle Marquette and was subsequently inhabited first by many nobles and later mainly by patricians. Last known noble residents were of the house of Gevers. Castle Marquette is currently owned by the Spanish hotel group NH Hoteles.

Slot Assumburg is located on the east side of Heemskerk. It was renovated in 1546. Demolition material from Oud Haerlem Castle was used. The castle has been a noble residence for many centuries. A great number of different sexes have lived there. After 1867 the castle remained uninhabited. Since 1911 it has been owned by the State, and in 1933 the Assumburg was used as a youth hostel.

The village churches
The Village Church of the Protestant Congregation Heemskerk, at Kerkplein 1, dates from 1628, but has a medieval tower from the 13th century. The (public) cemetery around the church contains a copy of the obelisk in honor of the father of the painter Maarten van Heemskerck.

The Roman Catholic St. Laurentius Church, designed by architect J.H. Tonnaer, was completed in 1891 and is a rare example of a neo-renaissance catholic church.

Agricultural village
After the Middle Ages, Heemskerk remained as a small quiet village at the foot of the dunes. The residents, who mainly found a life in agriculture, horticulture and livestock farming, went through good but also many very bad times.

From the time when the products - often strawberries destined for Beverwijk, where the fruits were traded - were brought to the market by donkeys, the Heemskerkers were given the donkey as a nickname and symbol.

This version is not based on truth as there is no proof of this, there is not a single picture available of a donkey with a cart which is the most logical explanation for the nickname donkeys, and in all probability it is based most on the truth.

The remark that Heemskerkers are donkeys was made in 1873 during a council meeting by the then mayor, Hermanus Zaalberg. This concerned a dispute between B and W and the city council about, among other things, street lighting.


Urban Development
Heemskerk retained this agricultural character until around 1960 the municipality started to play a role in the industrial development of the IJmond: Hoogovens (now Tata Steel), Cemij, MEKOG, Stork-Werkspoor. Much of it can still be found in the unique horticultural area on the dune side of the Rijksstraatweg, the grounds southwest of this road, which have largely remained agricultural areas.

The arrival of the Koninklijke Hoogovens resulted in a radical change in the population of the IJmond and here and there some over-enthusiastic expectations. For example, the municipality of Velsen published an expansion plan for a city of 250,000 inhabitants. This plan was quickly dismissed.

Beverwijk also made wild plans with a plan for a "Steel City" of one hundred thousand inhabitants, made possible in part by a merger with a reluctant Heemskerk. Both the 100,000 inhabitants and the merger with Heemskerk were later left. There are also three industrial estates, De Houtwegen, the De Trompet business park along the A9 and De Waterwegen, located along the Rijksstraatweg (a through road between Beverwijk and Castricum).

Since 1965 to 2005, new residential areas have been built in the meadow areas towards Uitgeest and Zaanstad, including Breedweer, de Maer, Beijerlust, Waterakkers-Lunetten and Broekpolder.

The municipality of Heemskerk started in 2005 to demolish flats from the fifties and sixties in various places and to replace them with modern apartments and low-rise buildings. In addition, the sustainable business park De Trompet will be further developed in the coming years. In addition to heat pumps and solar energy, this business park also generates sustainable energy with a 2 MW wind turbine that was installed in 2005. This windmill can be seen from a wide area through the striking blue color (of the Heemskerk municipal coat of arms).


Travel Destinations in Heemskerk

Castle Assumburg (Heemskerk)

Chateau Marquette (Heemskerk)

Fort Veldhuis (Heemskerk)

Hervormde Kerk (Heemskerk)


Heemskerk has its own train station on the Haarlem-Alkmaar line; another is in the neighboring town Uitgeest between Alkmaar and Amsterdam. Past the community, the A9 runs with junctions in Heemskerk, Beverwijk and Castricum. Schiphol International Airport is 23 km south.

In the village, where a good many strawberries used to be cultivated, agriculture plays practically no role, most of the inhabitants commute to the big cities, in particular to the blast furnaces of Corus in IJmuiden or to Amsterdam; others work in the service sector or work in smaller industrial companies. Also there are, because of the proximity to the North Sea, some hospitals.

Since the municipality itself has virtually no developed beach section, tourism - in contrast to neighboring communities such as Castricum - is not a significant economic factor.

The first written mention of the city took place in 1063. In the 12th and 13th centuries Heemskerk was the scene of many disputes between West Frisians and the Count of Holland. There were also some castles as a border fortress. The castle Heemskerk still exists as a house Marquette. Also the Assumburg has been preserved. When the IJmuiden blast furnaces began operation, the farming village began its development to Trabantstadt.