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In the 17th century, the city was the scene of great artistic activity and the residence of many painters, including Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael, Philips Wouwerman, and Adriaen van Ostade.

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Other highlights include works related to the marksmen's guilds, companies of volunteers from the city's more prosperous citizens who would join together to form a civic militia.

The collection also includes 17th-century portraits and landscapes, along with a collection of modern and contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, ceramics, and graphic art by artists from Haarlem and the surrounding area.

The museum has the world's largest collection of works by Hals, including five of his large civic guard pieces.

These large canvases display his genius for capturing a moment and bringing it to life in each of the faces.

One of the most picturesque corners of Haarlem lies around the Bakenessergracht, home to some of the city's oldest and most spectacular buildings.

Especially pretty is Hofje van Bakenes, a lovely little courtyard dating from 1395 that's famous for its cryptic rhyme (look for the plaque above the entrance).

Established in 1913 in one of Haarlem's most important historic structures, the 17th-century Old Men's Almshouses (Oude Mannenhuis), the Frans Hals Museum is one of the leading art galleries in the Netherlands.

The museum focuses on the work of the Haarlem Academy, a group of artists established by Frans Hals in the 1600s.

The real star of the cathedral, however, is its famous Müller Organ, considered one of the greatest such instruments in the world for its tone and decoration.

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