About Heemstede


Heemstede, a dormitory community in the western Netherlands occupies a central position in the triangle Amsterdam - Haarlem - Leiden. It is close to the capital city Amsterdam, to Schiphol Airport and to the North Sea coast. Heemstede numbers some 26,000 inhabitants. The majority of the working population works outside Heemstede. The service sector is the largest employer within the community. Heemstede is a green belt municipality with attractive shopping facilities and offering numerous cultural, sporting and recreational facilities.

The origins

Heemstede was founded in the 13th century. Floris the Fifth, Count of Holland loans fiefdom of the manor to Reynier van Holy, a knight from Vlaardingen. He is dubbed Lord of Heemstede and has a castle built on the banks of the river Spaarne. The origins of the name Heemstede are not clear. "Stede" means "place" and "heem" means "house". So the name Heemstede might possibly mean "the place where the house is". The present coat of arms is based on that of the Holy family.


The manor changes hands a number of times and is purchased in 1620 by the Amsterdam merchant Adriaen Pauw for the sum of Dfl 36,000.00 (€ 16.336). He has the castle extended and improved and puts it into use as his summer residence. His castle houses a large collection of books, paintings and other objects d'art whilst he purchases a valuable collection of tulip bulbs for his garden. Adriaen Pauw's contribution to Heemstede's development is considerable. He has waterways dug, a school founded and a church built. With his guidance, Heemstede's laundries and bleach-works flourish, assisted by the plentiful supplies of clean water. Laundry from the wealthy citizens of Amsterdam, Leiden and Haarlem is washed, bleached and mangled here.

Adrian Pauw plays a diplomatic role representing Holland during the peace negotiations with Spain, against which the Lowlands have been at war since 1568. When the peace treaty with Spain is signed at Munster in 1648, he builds a stone bridge over his castle's moat: the Pons Pacis or Peace Bridge. This bridge can still be admired on the spot where once the castle of the Lord of Heemstede stood.

Development and growth

In the 17th and 18th century numerous country mansions are built in Heemstede. Wealthy families from Amsterdam and Haarlem spend the summer months in residences they have built there. Around 1650 there are some 28 country mansion residences, offering welcome employment to the local community.

The present municipality of Heemstede originated in 1813 and was then an impoverished community. The difficult economic situation during the French occupation of the Netherlands leaves its mark on Heemstede too. The number of laundries and bleach-works gradually dwindles. Those which remain make increasing use of steam machinery with increasing unemployment as a consequence. The mid 19th century sees bulb growing in vogue in Heemstede. Growers export their tulip bulbs all over the world.

A home for commuters

Things begin to look up around 1900. The advent of the train and the tram enables people to live outside the big cities whilst still working in them. Heemstede rapidly develops into a dormitory community with a fast-growing population. A new Town Hall is opened in 1907. Bulb fields become building sites. In 1912 the City Council develops a plan for the extension of Heemstede. Between 1900 and 1940 complete new housing estates spring up.

In 1913 the council purchases a centrally situated woodland estate and opens it to the public. Groenendaal Woods attracts many thousands of of recreational walkers annually from Heemstede and the wide vicinity. It is a popular destination all over the Netherlands for school trips. The children's farm and the playground attract younger visitors. For a number of years the woods have been managed ecologically.

In the 1930's the Heemstede Sports Ground was developed with football, hockey and baseball pitches. Heemstede also has swimming facilities, a sports hall, tennis courts and many facilities on the social, cultural and scouting front as well as for the elderly. The "Oude Slot" cultural centre hosts small-scale musical, theatrical and cabaret performances. There are also regular exhibitions.

Heemstede is a pleasant place to live. Since the end of the Second World War every available area of Heemstede has been developed. There are very few areas left for residential development. The result is a relatively elderly population. For many years the population total has hovered around the 26,000 mark. It is very difficult for young people in Heem-stede to find a place of their own to live.

Every bit as important is the traffic problem in Heemstede. The lack of a ringroad system means the Heemstede road network is overloaded. A solution is difficult to find in the short term and requires considerable creative thinking on the part of the government departments involved.

Despite these problems, life and leisure in Heemstede is good. The local council aims to maintain and cement Heemstede's position as a top location in Zuid Kennemerland and works hard at the upkeep of high quality facilities.

Gemeente Heemstede

Raadhuisplein 1
Postbus 352
2100 AJ Heemstede

Tel: 0031- 23 - 548 58 68
Fax: 0031- 23 - 548 57 00
E-mail: gemeente@heemstede.nl