Westfries Museum

Top choice in North Holland

Housed in the former seat of the Staten-College (States' Council), the body that once governed seven towns in Noord-Holland, this absorbing museum has a rich collection of historical paintings – so rich that it was the target of art theft in 2005, when paintings worth €10 million were stolen (five have been recovered, though 19 are still missing, as are 70 pieces of silverware). Fortunately four large group portraits of prominent schutters (civic guards) by Jan A Rotius (1624–66) remain.

The building's 1632 wedding-cake facade bears the coat of arms of Oranje-Nassau, the Dutch-German royal dynasty that the Dutch named as rulers when Napoleon left. Its rear courtyard has a number of curious stone tablets from local facades.

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