Alkmaar is a historic city in the Province of North-Holland in the Netherlands, about 10 km inland from the coast, and 40 km north-west of Amsterdam. The city's population is about 95 000, the whole urban area has about twice that number. Alkmaar is the regional center for the northern part of the Province, serving about 600 000 people. The city center preserves the 17th-century pattern of canals and narrow streets, and has many historic buildings (and some ugly new ones). The nearby beaches and dune reserves are easily accessible from Alkmaar itself. Inland is a historic agricultural landscape, with 17th century polders: one (De Beemster) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
[Via wikitravel.org website]