Leuwarden and Leiden – two important cities in the Netherlands

Leiden

Leewarden (Netherlands) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Leuwarden with descriptions, travel guides and maps.

City of Leiden (Netherlands).

Leiden is a city in the west of the Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. Located on the Old Rhine River between Amsterdam and The Hague. Leiden is one of the most picturesque cities in the Netherlands, known for its magnificent historic center with its canals and the oldest university in the country. It is also the birthplace of famous artists such as: Rembrandt, Jan Sten, Jan van Goyen and Lucas van Leyden.

Things to do (Leiden):

Picturesque Leiden

€250 per tour.

Picturesque Leiden

Discover Rembrandt’s life and work on a tour of his home town.

Geography and climate

Leiden is located in the north of the province of South Holland, 45 km south-west of Amsterdam and 18 km northeast of The Hague. The Old Rhine River runs through the city. Also Leiden is pierced by a network of canals, the most famous and beautiful among them is the Rapenburg. The climate is temperate maritime with warm summers and mild winters.

Leiden is best reached by train. The trip from The Hague takes 10-15 minutes, from Schiphol airport – 20 minutes, from Amsterdam – about 30 minutes.

Leiden in the snow

Leiden in snow

Tourist information

  1. Population – more than 110 thousand people.
  2. Area – 23.16 km².
  3. Currency – Euro.
  4. Visa – Schengen.
  5. Language – Dutch.
  6. Time – UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. The main shopping streets are Haarlemmerstraat and Breestraat. They are 10-15 minutes walk from the central station. On Saturdays, between the streets Nieuwe Rijn and Vismarkt along the canal there is a market.
  8. In the area of Pieterswijk (on the east side of Breestraat) you can find many cozy restaurants.

History

The first mentions of Leiden date back to 860. The city sprang up near the dam on the south side of the Old Rhine. In the 12th century, a castle was built here, around which a trading settlement grew. In 1266 Leiden was given city rights. During the Hundred Years’ War, many Belgian weavers fled here, laying the foundation for the textile industry and Leiden’s continued prosperity in the Middle Ages.

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The Canals of Leiden

Canal in Leiden

In 1420 Leiden was conquered by the Duke of Bavaria. In 1572, the city joined the Union of Utrecht against Spanish domination. In 1574 Leiden was besieged by the Spaniards. To lift the siege, the Dutch had to open the floodgates and flood the city. This allowed naval vessels to practically enter Leiden and deliver food. As a reward, William of Orange allowed the townspeople to establish a university.

Leiden

Leiden

Leiden flourished until the 17th century. In the 18th century, the textile industry declined, severely affecting the city’s prosperity. Now Leiden is one of the main cultural and scientific centers of the Netherlands.

Overnight in Leiden

A night out in Leiden

Sightseeing

Old Town Leiden

Old Town Leiden

The Old Town of Leiden is one of the most beautiful in the Netherlands. Medieval sites and ancient architecture have been preserved here. The historical core is second only to Amsterdam in size. The old city is permeated by a network of canals. The area between Oude Rijn and Nieuwe Rijn is one of the most intact parts of Leiden, preserved in its original state from the 16th to 17th centuries.

Leiden Castle

Leiden Castle

Leiden Castle is an 11th-century defensive structure built on top of an artificial 12-meter hill. The castle can be entered through an old gate with the image of a lion with the city’s coat of arms. The fort was once surrounded by a chain of walls 35 meters in diameter and two canals, one of which can still be seen at the foot of the hill. The tower was built in the 17th century. From here you have a stunning view of old Leiden.

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter’s Church is the oldest church in Leiden, founded in 1121 as a count’s chapel. By the 16th century, the structure had grown into a large church with an impressive interior, stained glass windows, a late Gothic pulpit and a 16th-century organ. The rich interior furnishings were significantly damaged during the Reformation. The church contains the tomb of the famous painter Jan Sten and 10 other ancient tombstones.

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Church of St. Pancratius

Church of St. Pancratius

The church of St. Pancratius (Hooglandse Kerk) dates from the 15th century and was built next to the old castle. This beautiful Gothic building was never completed, so the building has a bizarre structure – a low nave does not coincide with the high choir and transept. The church also has large windows, numerous Gothic decorations and the widest Gothic transept in the world. The street next to the church (Hooglandse Kerkgracht) is located on the site of an old canal and is one of the most atmospheric in Leiden’s old city.

Sea Gate

Swamp Gate

The Swamp Gate is an early 17th century city gate on the western edge of the old city. In the past it was not the most pleasant place to enter the city, as the bodies of hanged criminals were displayed here. Named so because the marshes approached Leiden from the west.

Zijlpoort

Zijlpoort

The Zijlpoort is located in the eastern part of the old city. It is a city gate from the 17th century, full of decorations and resembling Roman triumphal arches.

In the Middle Ages there were 8 city gates in Leiden. Only two of these structures have survived.

City Hall

City Hall

The Town Hall is a historic public building, built in the late 16th century in the style of the Dutch Renaissance.

Academiegebouw

Academiegebouw

Leiden University’s historic Academiegebouw building is Leiden’s oldest building, dating back to the 15th century. The university took it over from an ancient monastery. Despite several conversions and reconstructions, the original Neo-Gothic architecture of the building remains virtually intact. Nowadays it is used for presenting diplomas and defending academic dissertations.

St. Mary's Church

Church of St. Mary

The Church of St. Mary is a beautiful historic church built in the 16th century.

Fish Bridge

Fish Bridge

Leiden’s old city is punctuated by dozens of canals, totalling 28 kilometres in length. Not surprisingly, many bridges have been built here. The most famous among them: Fish Bridge (Visbrug) and Grain Bridge (Koornbrug). Fish Bridge is the oldest bridge of Leiden. It was built in the 12th century. In the Middle Ages fishermen sold their catch on it. The grain bridge dates from 1642.

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Weighing Building

The Weighing Building

The Weighing Building (Waag) is a historical building with an interesting relief on the facade built in 1657.

Windmill Museum

Windmill Museum

Museums of Leiden:

  • Boerhaave – Museum of the History of Medicine and Science.
  • National Museum of Antiquities – exhibits from Egypt and the Middle East, Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.
  • Leiden Windmill Museum is housed in an impressive seven-story stone mill built in 1743.
  • Leiden City Museum – an impressive collection of paintings by leading Dutch artists from the 16th and 17th centuries, including Jan van Goyen, Rembrandt and Jan Steen.
  • The Ethnological Museum – extensive collections from around the world with an emphasis on exhibits from Indonesia and Japan.
  • Netherlands National Museum of Natural History – ten million specimens of animals and insects, as well as minerals and gems.

Interesting tours

Cozy Pubs in Amsterdam

From €130 for a guided tour

Cozy Pubs in Amsterdam

Tasting tour of the most colorful pubs and breweries of the Dutch capital

Photo walk in Amsterdam

188 €113 per tour

Photo walk in Amsterdam

See iconic and unusual places, listen to the city’s history and take colorful pictures.

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