Haarlem is a city and municipality in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland and is situated at the northern edge of the Randstad, one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Haarlem had a population of 155,205 in 2014.
Haarlem was granted city status or stadsrechten in 1245, although the first city walls were not built until 1270. The modern city encompasses the former municipality of Schoten as well as parts that previously belonged to Bloemendaal and Heemstede. Apart from the city, the municipality of Haarlem also includes the western part of the village of Spaarndam.
The city is located on the river Spaarne, about 20 km (12 mi) west of Amsterdam and near the coastal dunes. It has been the historical centre of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries and bears the nickname 'Bloemenstad' (flower city), for this reason.
There are several museums in Haarlem. The Teylers Museum lies on the Spaarne river and is the oldest museum of the Netherlands. Its main subjects are art, science and natural history, and it owns a number of works by Michelangelo and Rembrandt.
Another museum is the Frans Hals Museum of fine arts, with its main location housing Dutch master paintings, and its exhibition halls on the Grote Markt housing a gallery for modern art called De Hallen.
Haarlem's main sights are its lovely historic centre and its fine art museums. You'll get a good idea of what the city has to offer by just wandering the streets in the centre for a while, as many monumental buildings and the most prominent museums are all there. The tourist information office can provide maps and walking routes as well as guides, if you don't want to miss anything.