Hoorn is a city and municipality in the region of West Friesland, in the Dutch province of North Holland. The municipality is located on the Markermeer via the Hoornse Hop. On August 1, 2020, 73,360 people lived there (source: CBS). The municipality of Hoorn has an area of 52.49 km², of which 32.62 km² is water.



The origin of the place name Hoorn - old spelling variants are Horn (e) and Hoirne - is not certain. This may have come from Hornicwed. The medieval Hornic means Hoek, and wed or wedor is a medieval word for 'water'. Numerous places and neighborhoods in the Netherlands are still called Heurne, Huurne or Horn. Hornicwed would refer to its location in a corner in the coastline. It is also sometimes stated that it concerns a corner in the dike, but this raises doubts: the coast of the Zuiderzee was then further from Hoorn than it is now: the Westfriese Omringdijk originally ran in a straight line from the West to Schardam, and in front of this dyke there was still land outside the dyke, on which the village of Dampten mentioned by Velius was also located. This area was not flooded until 1391 - when the old dike was abandoned - after a new dike had been laid with a corner further inland, and the first impetus for the bay of Hoornse Hop arose. However, Hoorn already existed at that time, just like the name. For Hornicwed we can also think of the meaning that we also see in our current word 'corner', namely a certain (inhabited?) Area at some distance, and then situated on the water (wed).

The author of the 'Origo Civitatis Hornensis' assumes that Hoorn van Damphoorn is derived. Dam horn is the medieval name for an herb that could be used to make flutes; these grew in abundance in the outer dike area of ​​Hoorn. Chronicler Velius rejects this statement because there are no old mentions in which Hoorn is still called Damphoorn: The name was from the very beginning Hoorn: not (except better judgment) of the herb Damphoorn, as t'ghemeyne do not feel of nor present wood. Velius also rejects the statement that the name of origin was Dampter Horn: a neighborhood of the village of Dampten, the first part of which fell after the drowning of the village of Dampten.

There are also many myths about the origin of the name Hoorn. According to old Frisian legends, the name Hoorn is derived from the stepson of King Radboud, named Hornus. Other stories say that the name Hoorn comes from a sign with a post horn that hung from one of the establishments on the Roode Steen in the early 14th century. A third variant states that the name Hoorn is derived from the horn shape of the first ports.



According to old Frisian legends, Hoorn was founded by Hornus, stepson of King Radbod. Hornus was married to Gunterdom, daughter of Gordianus, stadtholder of Teckenburgh. According to the legends, he founded a place on the water in the west of Friesland in 716 and named it after himself. This was quite common among the Frisian nobility. The same legends also say that the town burned down in 724, and it took years for it to be rebuilt.

As far as this legend is correct, this Hoorn does not necessarily have to be in the current location, but perhaps in the area that was later inundated by the Zuiderzee. The relocation of places that were in danger of flooding was common in West Friesland in the Middle Ages. It is known that Enkhuizen, Scharwoude, Etersheim and Warder have moved west because of the advancing Zuiderzee. Oosthuizen, on the other hand, has been moved in an easterly direction due to the growing Beemster. The boundary of the Zuiderzee on the West Frisian / Waterland side was much more to the east around 600 (from Wijdenes towards Volendam and Marken), but has moved for miles after several flooding of peatlands. After 1100 in particular, increasing floods took place.

The oldest vestiges of habitation found so far in archaeological excavations date back to about 1200. Hoorn was then no more than a small town, with farms and perhaps some trade. According to the Hoorn historian Velius, Hoorn originated in the 14th century at the mouth of the Gouw (actually called De Tocht; the Gouw was the road and hamlet along it) beyond the dyke of the East and the West, a peat stream (natural drainage in the original peat landscape) that flowed into the Zuiderzee via a lock and overflow at the current Roode Steen. The North country road (in fact the dividing dyke between Ooster- and Westerpolder, an extension of the Keern and Rijsdam) also ended here. Hamburg brothers are said to have built their warehouses and an inn at this central point in 1316. The latter may be true, but according to the excavations Hoorn already existed then, and Hoorn is also mentioned earlier in writings. Moreover, the inner dike of Rijsdam-Keern-Noord was probably built in 1320. Until then, the hydrological boundary lay between the extraction areas Hoorn (later part of the Oosterpolder) and Berkhout (later part of the Westerpolder) in the Keernsloot. The lock of the Roode Steen had already existed for several decades (1288).


It is remarkable that Hoorn has a development structure that differs from the adjacent areas: the plot ditches between the Holenweg, Groene Wijzend and the Keernsloot run in an east-west direction, and the central development axis (De Gouw) north-south. This structure is only found in Schellinkhout and Wijdenes. Zwaag, Berkhout and Scharwoude have a parcel lock structure in a north-south direction, with central extraction axes in an east-west direction (Oude Gouw in Berkhout, Dorpsstraat in Zwaag, and Scharwoude in Scharwoude). Blokker was only reclaimed at a later stage as already enclosed land; the same probably also applies to the area between Zwaag and Hoorn. It is remarkable in this context that the northern extraction boundary of Hoorn (the Groene Wijzend) does not coincide with the original southern extraction boundary of Zwaag (the Kleine Wijzend and the Grote Wijzend). This seems to indicate a different mining origin. The exploitation of West Friesland took place from Egmond, from where people sailed in an easterly direction via peat rivers, for example via the Leek to Wognum and the Kromme Leek, and via the Bemestra towards the Zuiderzee (the Bemestra originally flowed into the Drecht together with the the surroundings of Wijdenes).

It strongly seems that Zwaag was mined by colonists from Wognum, while Hoorn, Schellinkhout and Wijdenes were mined via the Bemestra and the Zuiderzee. Wijdenes, Schellinkhout and Hoorn would then originally have had a continuous northern boundary (a dike or quay to screen off the unexplored northern peat area) along the Blokdijk-Lageweg-Oost. Only around 1200 Hoorn would then have shifted in a northerly direction after flooding - in which the first parts of the Hoornse Hop were formed, whereby the area from the East to the Groene Wijzend was mined (in accordance with the archaeological research). This then corresponds with the later traditions that an older place would have been flooded south of Hoorn - then called Dampten, but that probably descends from d'ampte, or the (original) Hoorn district. No written sources are known from the times before 1200.

From 1200 it is different. The oldest mention of Hoorn occurs in the City Book of Wismar (from 1250-1272), in which a Nicolaus de Horne is mentioned as surety for a few merchants from Muiden. It is known that from West-Friesland there was already intensive trade towards the Baltic Sea (and towards Flanders), and apparently the Hoorn merchants already had a sufficient reputation to act as guarantor. In 1303 Martin Hontin from Bruges is imprisoned at Hornicwed in West-Friesland in the count land of Hollant, and his merchandise is robbed. And in 1309, Juvenum de Meo de Horne went to the Guy of Avesnes, bishop of Utrecht, to ask for lenient peace terms for the defeated West Frisians. In 1311 Drebaan Haghen from Horne pays a fine to the count's steward, in an account from the same year Lubbrecht is called the shoemaker, and in 1316 the 'judices et universi' (judges and municipality) in Horne conclude an agreement with the residents of Harderwijk .

It is also known from this time that land had to be given up in Hoorn. In the chronicle of Feyken Rijp it mentions the locks of Horn at 1260. In a trial from 1320 against Maertijn van der Nieuwerwike, the new locks are also explicitly mentioned, which means that there was also an older lock. The new lock at the Roode Steen (in the old inner dike East) was constructed around 1288, when storms had to abandon the dike to the south; the dyke of East and West then became the new sea dyke (inlet dyke). The land between the old and new sea dike deteriorated into reed land, which was partly washed away, but partly also used to later dig the oldest outside dike harbors of Hoorn (Nieuwendam 1341 and Appelhaven 1421).


Originally, the new dyke of the West ran from the Roode Steen - where the new lock was made - straight to the mouth of the Bemestra that was now much more westerly due to flooding in Waterland (later after the dam was built, this estuary was called Schardam; de Bemestra was then called Korsloot). This dyke survived as a sea dyke until 1391. After flooding, a new dike had to be made in 1391. This, too, was to follow the old northern development boundary of Hoorn - just like before the East - and ran straight in line with the East (via the Proostensteeg) and right in the extension of the Naamsloot, the mining boundary between Scharwoude and Berkhout. The old dyke was maintained as much as possible to protect the partly existing land outside the dykes, but this had to be abandoned more and more. Ultimately, the village of Scharwoude had to be moved. However, several breakthroughs also took place to the west of Hoorn, especially at the mouth of the Keernsloot in the Zuiderzee, after which the half-moon shape of the Westerdijk was constructed as a new inlay dike in the first half of the 15th century. The Grote Waal was created by the flooding of the area around the Barchouter Sluze (Berkhouter Sluis, mouth of the Slimtrip).

Peak period
On March 26, 1356/1357, Willem V granted city rights to Hoorn, against payment of 1,550 shields (gold ECUs). This measure allowed the city to draw up and enforce legal rules and collect taxes. A side effect was that the development of the city as a trading post was strongly promoted. The deed is in the West Frisian Archives.

Hoorn soon outstripped the other Zuiderzee ports. Only Amsterdam experienced similar rapid growth in the 15th century. An important impetus for the city was the choice of Philip of Burgundy. The Burgundian Empire was a stimulus for trade. In the 15th century a lively cloth industry developed, the product of which could compete in price and quality with cloth from Leiden, The Hague and Haarlem. Adversity, resulting from, among other things, the Hoekse and Kabeljauwse disputes, as well as the Gelderse Wars around 1500, caused problems for this cloth trade. Moreover, more and more Hoorn traders chose to participate in the Baltic Sea trade (bringing grain from Poland and Lithuania to Italy).

On Good Friday in the year 1481, a major city fire took place in Hoorn, which mainly affected the western part of the city.

Hoorn chose in 1572, like Waterland and the entire Zaan region, for the Reformation and the Prince of Orange. A heavy naval battle was fought against the 'Spaniards', the Battle of the Zuiderzee. Hoorn ships were helped in that fight by residents from Hoorn and volunteers from the Zaanstreek, Schermer and Waterland. The commander of the royal fleet, Stadtholder Maximilian of Hénin-Liétard (Bossu), was taken prisoner. On the Bossuhuizen on the Slapershaven, this sea battle is beautifully depicted in gable bricks and paintings.

During the 16th and 17th century the city experienced its greatest prosperity, and Hoorn was one of the cities represented in the Dutch East India Company. The WIC (West India Company), the Noordse Compagnie (or Compagnie van Spitsbergen), the Admiralty of the Noorderkwartier, the West Frisian Mint (alternately also in Enkhuizen) and the Board of Committed Councils of West Friesland and the Noorderkwartier were in Hoorn established. Hoorn was therefore the formal capital of the area above the IJ. Jan Pieterszoon Coen was born in Hoorn. The Hoorn skippers Jacob le Maire and Willem Cornelisz Schouten were the first to round the southernmost point of South America with the ships Hoorn and Eendracht, and called it Cape Hoorn.

Eighteenth century to the present
The 18th century is characterized in Hoorn by a decline of the economy. The harbors had become silted up, the ships sailed on to Amsterdam or to the Zaandam where, as in the neighboring village of Oostzaan, the ships were repaired and mainly built. A sad low point was the French era, when French troops were stationed in Hoorn. During this period the old town hall on the Roode Steen was also demolished. Hoorn also lost its regional capital functions during this time (1795). These did not return either: in 1810 Holland became one province. When North Holland was later separated, Haarlem became the new capital.

Yet Hoorn flourished again in the 19th century. The West Frisian countryside supplied more and more agricultural products and cheese, which were traded in or via Hoorn. Hoorn was the largest cheese market in North Holland at the time, and the cattle market was also extensive. Schools with a regional function were also founded in Hoorn, and there was a district court. Hoorn also became a garrison town and an important railway junction.


Although not formally, Hoorn became a functional capital again for the region, with only Alkmaar having a similar function for the area above the IJ. The city of Zaandam served as a sub-center for the Zaan region and Purmerend for Waterland. At that time, both cities were not as big as Hoorn and Alkmaar respectively.

The municipality of Hoorn was designated in 1966 as a growth center (first industrialization center), an official status that ended in 1985. Since then Hoorn has grown considerably. Hoorn is home to many commuters, but also plays an important employment role itself, with approximately 33,800 jobs in 5,350 branches in 2009. In 2010, this decreased to 31,670 jobs in 5,530 locations due to the recession, but also due to the lack of business park that can be issued in Hoorn (source: LISA). The number of inhabitants continues to grow, partly due to the location half an hour by train from Amsterdam. In 2009, the municipality of Hoorn welcomed its 70,000th resident, mainly through housing in the Bangert and Oosterpolder and the construction of additional homes in the existing city.