Bolsward is one of the eleven cities of Friesland. It is located close to the beginning of the Afsluitdijk, the dyke that connects Friesland with North Holland. The town is founded on three artificial dwelling hills, of which the first was built some time before Christ. Bolsward was a trading city with a port in the Middle Ages. The middlesea connected the port to the north sea, but this connection was lost when the middlesea was reclaimed from the sea. As a trading city, Bolsward received city rights in 1455. Bolsward was also a member of the Hanseatic league.
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The inner city houses over 80 official monuments. The city hall is one of them. Other sights include the Broerekerk, the Martinikerk and the Oudheidskamer (chamber of antiquities).
Bolsward is part of the eleven frisian cities where the Elfstedentocht, an ice skating marathon, is held. This is a rare event which depends on the thickness of the ice. Bolsward is also the host city for the yearly road bicycle racing tour, which is also called the 11-stedentocht.