AskDefine | Define alkmaar

Extensive Definition

For the place with the same name in Commewijne District of Suriname, see: Alkmaar (Suriname).
Alkmaar is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of Noord Holland. Alkmaar is well-known for its traditional cheese market. It is one of the main cultural centers of the Netherlands.


The earliest mention of the name Alkmaar is in a 10th-century document. As the village grew into a town, it was granted city rights in 1254. The oldest part of Alkmaar lies on an ancient sand bank that afforded some protection from the sea during medieval times. Even so, it is only a couple of metres above the surrounding region, which consists of some of the oldest polders in existence.
In 1573 the city successfully withstood a siege by Spanish forces under the leadership of Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba. Alkmaar was the first city in the Netherlands to be freed from the Spanish occupation. It was a turning point in the Eighty Years War and gave rise to the expression Bij Alkmaar begint de victorie ("Victory begins in Alkmaar"). The event is still celebrated every year in Alkmaar on October 8, the day the siege ended.
In 1799, during the French revolutionary wars, an Anglo-Russian expeditionary force captured the city but was ultimately defeated in the Battle of Castricum. The French victory was commemorated on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as "Alcmaer".
The North Holland Canal, opened in 1824, was dug through Alkmaar. In 1865 and 1867 the railways between Alkmaar and Den Helder and between Alkmaar and Haarlem were built respectively.
In the second half of the 20th century, Alkmaar expanded quickly with development of new neighbourhoods. On October 1, 1972, the town of Oudorp and the southern portions of Koedijk and Sint Pancras were added to the municipality of Alkmaar.

Population centres

The municipality of Alkmaar consists of the following cities, towns, villages and/or districts: Alkmaar, Koedijk (partly), Oudorp and Omval.
These once separate villages are now all linked together by the suburban sprawl of buildings that arose between the late 1970s and early 1990s. During this time, the population of Alkmaar almost doubled.

Local government

The municipal council of Alkmaar consists of 37 seats, which are divided as follows:


Highway A9 runs from Amsterdam to Alkmaar, then continues on to Den Helder as the N9.
Trains run from Station Alkmaar to Nijmegen, Maastricht, Schagen, The Hague, Rotterdam, Hoorn and Den Helder. The city also has a second station, Station Alkmaar Noord.
The Noordhollandsch Kanaal canal, which opened in 1824, runs right through Alkmaar.


Alkmaar's cheese market at the Waagplein, is one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. The cheese market traditionally takes place on the first Friday in April and the last market of the season is the first Friday in September. Every Friday morning (10.00-12.00 a.m.) the Waagplein is the decor of this traditional cheesemarket. After the old fashion way of the hand clap, traders and carriers will weigh the cheeses. It is one of only four traditional Dutch cheese markets still in existence. The traditional fare of this cheese market are those cheeses made in the local area, as opposed to the well-known brands of Dutch cheeses, i.e. Edam cheese and Gouda cheese. It is not actually possible to buy cheese at the market itself, which is really only a demonstration of how this merchants' market operated in times gone by. However, the demonstration, which takes place in front of the medieval weighing house, is surrounded by many specialized stalls where it is possible to buy all kinds of cheese (and non-cheese) related products.
The Waag is home to the local tourist office and a cheese museum. Alkmaar also has two large theatres and a big cinema which was originally two cinemas.
A red light district is situated at the Achterdam, and Alkmaar has a nightlife scene as well which takes place in the pubs that are in front of the cheesemarket.


  • Beatles Museum - dedicated to The Beatles, as John Lennon's first guitar was made in Alkmaar
  • Holland Cheese Museum - located in the historic weigh house
  • National Beer Museum "De Boom"
  • Dutch Stove Museum
  • City Museum Alkmaar - for history of the city


Alkmaar is home to the professional football team AZ (Alkmaar Zaanstreek). In 2006, the club moved to a new 17,000 capacity stadium, the DSB Stadion.
The city also has a velodrome where the Dutch national track cycling championships are held every year.

Born in Alkmaar



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