Bolsward (Frisian: Boalsert) is a city with 10,120 inhabitants (January 1, 2020) in the municipality of Súdwest-Fryslân, in the Dutch province of Friesland, which lies south of Franeker, northwest of Sneek and east of Makkum. The city is located on the north side of the A7 and the Wijmerts and through the city flows include the Stadsgracht and the Leeuwardervaart. Bolsward also includes the hamlets Knossens, Laat en Zaad (partly) and Spreeuwenstein.

Bolsward is one of the eleven cities. Until 2011 it was the capital of the former municipality of Bolsward.



Bolsward originated on three mounds, of which at least the oldest (on which the Sint Maarten church stands) dates from before the beginning of the era. The Broerekerk, destroyed by fire on 8 May 1980 and now preserved as a ruin, is the oldest building in the city and dates partly from the end of the 13th century. The statue of Our Lady of Sevenwouden of Mary also dates from the Middle Ages, nowadays kept in the Basilica of St. Francis on the Dijlakker.

Bolsward received city rights from Philip the Good in 1455, thanks in part to the orator Father Brugman. Bolsward was a Hanseatic city.

The town hall of Bolsward, built around 1615, is a sign of the city's prosperity in the seventeenth century. It was enlarged in 1765 and decorated in the Rococo style.
In the second half of the eighteenth century the population of Bolsward declined from 2878 inhabitants in 1748 to 2500 inhabitants. The local textile industry was severely affected by foreign competition; the butter and cheese market suffered greatly from the cattle plague that raged in the Frisian countryside.

The Patriot Time in Bolsward
The patriots in Bolsward received national press coverage between 1782 and 1789. The influential mayor Van Hiemstra was passed over, the town hall retained its old size, a voluntary militia was established, in which Willem Lycklama à Nijeholt and Cornelis van den Burg played an important role as the two captains. Bolsward was the only Frisian city that recognized the Pretense States in Franeker in September 1787.

Bolsward as a place of pilgrimage
Bolsward is a place of pilgrimage because in the Basilica of St. Francis of Bolsward is a grace statue of Mary, Our Lady of Sevenwouden from the end of the 13th century.

The old town with canals, the town hall, the traditional distillery "De Stiekeme Stoker" (Oenema Fryske Bearenburch), the distillery Sonnema Berenburg, the Frisian Bierbrouwerij and whiskey distillery, and orphanage Hid Herohiem (now Hotel / Restaurant). The city has dozens of national monuments and 75 municipal monuments. Part of the city is a protected cityscape, one of the protected city and village views in Friesland.

Eleven Cities Bicycle Tour. Annually on Whit Monday.
Stepelfstadentocht. Saturday night before Pentecost.
Heamiel. Four-day festival in June, celebrating that the hay has been taken off the land. Fair and on Thursdays traditional 'hay meal' and market.
BOLStjurrich. Street festival on the Saturday of the Heamiel. Mix of theater, music, acrobatics and party.
International Folkloric Dance Festival. During the Heamiel.
Bulbous sole. Bull Thursday.
Night market. Large market during the evenings.
Simmerwike. Musical festival with four evenings of music performances on a large pontoon in the Kruiswater, mid-August.
ParkBOP. Free music festival in the Juliana Park.