|— Municipality —|
|• Total||31.22 km2 (12.05 sq mi)|
|• Land||29.51 km2 (11.39 sq mi)|
|• Water||1.71 km2 (0.66 sq mi)|
|Population (1 January 2007)|
|• Density||3,193/km2 (8,270/sq mi)|
|Source: CBS, Statline.|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Alkmaar [ˈɑɫ(ə)k.maːr] ( listen) is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of Noord Holland. Alkmaar is well known for its traditional cheese market. For tourists, it is a popular cultural destination.
The earliest mention of the name Alkmaar is in a 10th-century document. As the village grew into a town, it was granted city rights in 1254. The oldest part of Alkmaar lies on an ancient sand bank that afforded some protection from the sea during medieval times. Even so, it is only a couple of metres above the surrounding region, which consists of some of the oldest polders in existence.
In 1573 the city successfully withstood a siege by Spanish forces under the leadership of Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba. It was a turning point in the Eighty Years War and gave rise to the expression Bij Alkmaar begint de victorie ("Victory begins at Alkmaar"). The event is still celebrated every year in Alkmaar on October 8, the day the siege ended.
In 1799, during the French revolutionary wars, an Anglo-Russian expeditionary force captured the city but was ultimately defeated in the Battle of Castricum. The French victory was commemorated on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as Alkmaer.
The North Holland Canal, opened in 1824, was dug through Alkmaar. In 1865 and 1867 the railways between Alkmaar and Den Helder and between Alkmaar and Haarlem were built respectively.
In the second half of the 20th century, Alkmaar expanded quickly with development of new neighbourhoods. On October 1, 1972, the town of Oudorp and the southern portions of Koedijk and Sint Pancras were added to the municipality of Alkmaar.
Topographic map image of Alkmaar, 2011. Click to enlarge.
Population centres 
These once separate villages are now all linked together by the suburban sprawl of buildings that arose between the late 1970s and early 1990s. During this time, the population of Alkmaar almost doubled.
Local government 
The municipal council of Alkmaar consists of 37 seats, which are divided as follows:
- PvdA – 7 seats
- OPA – 7 seats
- SP – 3 seats
- CDA – 3 seats
- VVD – 4 seats
- GroenLinks – 4 seats
- Leefbaar Alkmaar – 3 seats
- D66 – 4 seat
- Trots op Nederland – 2 seat
There are direct trains to Den Helder, Hoorn, Zaandam, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Ede, Arnhem, Nijmegen, 's-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Heerlen, Haarlem, Leiden and The Hague. For exact details see Alkmaar railway station.
Alkmaar has two railway stations:
The waterway Noordhollandsch Kanaal, which opened in 1824, runs through Alkmaar.
Main sights 
Alkmaar has many medieval buildings that are still intact, most notably the tall tower of the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk, where many people from Alkmaar hold their wedding ceremony. The other main attraction, especially in the summer months, is Alkmaar's cheese market at the Waagplein, one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. The cheese market traditionally takes place on the first Friday in April and the last market of the season is the first Friday in September. Every Friday morning (10.00–12.30 a.m.) the Waagplein is the backdrop for this traditional cheesemarket. After the old-fashioned way of the hand clap, traders and carriers will weigh the cheeses. It is one of only four traditional Dutch cheese markets still in existence. The traditional fare of this cheese market are those cheeses made in the local area, as opposed to the well-known brands of Dutch cheeses, i.e. Edam cheese and Gouda cheese. It is not actually possible to buy cheese at the market itself, which is really only a demonstration of how this merchants' market operated in times gone by. However, the demonstration, which takes place in front of the medieval weighing house, is surrounded by many specialized stalls where it is possible to buy all kinds of cheese (and non-cheese) related products. The Waag is also home to the local tourist office and a cheese museum. Alkmaar has 399 registered rijksmonuments, of which most are situated along the city's old canals.
Alkmaar has two large theatres and a big cinema (which was originally two cinemas). A red light district is situated at the Achterdam, and Alkmaar has a nightlife scene as well which takes place in the pubs that are in front of the cheesemarket.
- Beatles Museum – dedicated to The Beatles, as John Lennon's first guitar was made in Alkmaar
- Holland Cheese Museum – located in the historic weigh house
- National Beer Museum "De Boom"
- Dutch Oven Museum
- City Museum Alkmaar – for history of the city
Alkmaar is home to the professional football team AZ (Alkmaar Zaanstreek). In 2006, the club moved to a new 17,000 capacity stadium, the DSB Stadion, now named the AFAS Stadion. In 2008–2009, AZ won the Eredivisie, the Dutch football league.
Born in Alkmaar 
- Petrus Forestus (1521), physician
- Willem Blaeu (1571), cartographer (may have been born in Uitgeest)
- Metius (1571), geometer / astronomer
- Cornelis Drebbel (1572), inventor of the first navigable submarine
- Joan Blaeu (1598), cartographer
- Cornelis van der Lijn (1608), Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies
- Caesar van Everdingen (1616/7), painter
- Emanuel de Witte (1617), painter
- Allaert van Everdingen (1621), painter
- Willem de Fesch (1687), composer
- Geertruida Bosboom-Toussaint (1812), novelist
- Hendrik Willem Bakhuis Roozeboom (1854), chemist
- Kees Boeke (1884), educator and pacifist
- Jan Wils (1891), architect and founding member of the De Stijl movement
- Cornelis Berkhouwer (1919), President of the European Parliament 1973-1975
- Alfred Peet (1920), founder of American coffee retailer Peet's Coffee & Tea
- Rudi Carrell (1934), entertainer
- Rudi Vis (1941) British politician
- Sybilla Dekker (1942), cabinet minister
- Harm Ottenbros (1943), cyclist, 1969 world champion
- Jos Punt (1946), bishop
- Dick Quax (1948), long distance runner
- Patrick Cammaert (1950), UN peacekeeping mission /Force commander
- Gerard Joling (1960), singer
- Marco Borsato (1966), singer
- Jakko Jan Leeuwangh (1972), speed skater
- Steven de Jongh (1973), cyclist
- Tom Six (1973), horror filmmaker
- Maarten van der Weijden (1981), long distance swimmer; Dutch Sportsman of the year 2008
Twin towns—sister cities 
Alkmaar is twinned with:
- Statistics are taken from the SDU Staatscourant
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Alkmaar|
|Wikivoyage has travel information related to: Alkmaar|
- Alkmaar's official Web site
- Dutch Cheese Museum
- National Beer Museum (Biermuseum "De Boom")
- Nederlands Kachel Museum
- Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar
- The Beatles Museum
- VVV / Tourist Office (VVV Alkmaar)