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Located along the Spaarne river, by the 12th century it had become a fortified town, the residence of the counts of Holland, and a market center for the Kennermerland. Besieged by the Spaniards for seven months before surrendering during the War of Independence in 1573. Experienced an economic upswing during the 17th century and the first Amsterdam-Haarlem railway line opened in 1839. Composers Wolfgang Amedeus Mozart, George Frederick Handel, and others performed at the world-famous St. Bavo's church. Center of Dutch painting in the16th and 17th centuries and tulip country.
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