Friday, June 7, 2013

Harlingen Friesland

This is our fourth visit to Harlingen and we love the compactness of the old city and its active harbour. We are starting to feel comfortable here, as we find our way around the gabled houses, old brick streets, bridges and canals. Now that it is almost summer, flowers and plants in pots and baskets are making their debut.

Harlingen is located on the coast of the Waddenzee, opposite the West Frisian Islands of Vlieland and Terschelling. The city was founded in 1243, and its harbour was important for trade for centuries, with export of mainly Friesian products. Imports were coal, timber and other industrial raw materials for the local shipyards, woodworking factories and fish-processing plants.

Much like other towns in the coastal region, this one was also built on a terp. Terps  are manmade mounds in the tidal flats upon which a few houses would be built above the high-water line. In more established terps, churches were often located on the highest point. The area would be expanded by connecting three or more terps with dikes and then draining the enclosed area. Dykes were extended and strengthened over time, drying more of the surrounding land.

Harlingen, Texas was incorporated in 1910 as an area settled by Friesian farmers and it was named after the harbour city of Harlingen. 

In the photo is a row of sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century houses along the Noorderhaven, the canal in the heart of the old city. The Harlingen Historical Society has funds available for the restoration and maintenance of many of the old buildings. There are hundreds of these, and because of the European economic crisis, many are now listed for sale.

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