Although it is one of the eleven Frisian cities, Harlingen is perhaps the least Frisian of them all, and few people speak the Frisian language as their mother tongue. It's a quaint little port town, which gained its fortune through fishing and trade. Still today, several commercial boating routes leave from here, on their way to Scandinavia or further. Some of the original fortifications have survived the test of time, as have the canals and a good number of historic warehouses and mansions.
This is pretty much as north as it gets on the Dutch mainland. Harlingen started to grow in the 12th century, when the monks of a nearby monastery dug canals to improve the trade activities in the area. Benefiting from the increased trade, Harlingen was awarded a city charter in 1234. For a few centuries however, the town remained of minor importance compared to nearby university city Franeker. As the harbour grew, however, so did Harlingen's wealth and fame.
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