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On 23 November 1245 Count Willem II granted Haarlem city rights.
This implied a number of privileges, among which the right for the sheriff and magistrates to administer justice, instead of the Count.
However, as shipping became increasingly important economically, the city of Amsterdam became the main Dutch city of North Holland during the Dutch Golden Age.
It is the capital of the province of North Holland and is situated at the northern edge of the Randstad, one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. It is a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam, and many residents commute to the country's capital for work.
The oldest mentioning of Haarlem dates from the 10th century.
This name is composed of three elements: haar, lo and heim.
There is not much dispute about the meaning of lo and heim; in Old Dutch toponyms lo always refers to 'forest' and heim (heem, em or um) to 'home' or 'house'.
Haar, however, has several meanings, one of them corresponding with the location of Haarlem on a sand dune: 'elevated place'.