The Great Market and the Church of St Bavo must have been an exceptional source of inspiration to Gerrit Berckheyde; he painted this cityscape more than twenty times during his career.
This painting, which dates from 1696, provides an exact picture of the centre of Haarlem at the end of the seventeenth century. The majestic Church of St Bavo towers over everything. To the north of the church lies the Vishal, the fish market, covered to keep the smell in. On the other side of the church stands the Vleeshal, built in 1603, where the butchers sold their meat. It is a magnificent example of Renaissance architecture, which illustrates Haarlem’s wealth in the early seventeenth century. In the background of the painting it is just possible to see a part of a wooden bell tower, which was built around 1470.
Apart from the wooden bell tower and the fish market, which has been replaced by another, these buildings can still be admired in the Great Market.