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—  Municipality  —
The Old Rhine in Leiden appears as a gracht


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 52°10′N 4°29′E / 52.16°N 4.49°E / 52.16; 4.49
Country Netherlands
Province South Holland
 - Mayor Henri Lenferink
Area (2006)
 - Total 23.16 km2 (8.9 sq mi)
 - Land 21.99 km2 (8.5 sq mi)
 - Water 1.16 km2 (0.4 sq mi)
Population (30 November 2008)
 - Total 116,967
 Density 5,050.4/km2 (13,080.4/sq mi)
  Source: CBS, Statline.
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Post code range 2300-2334
Area code(s) 071
Website www.leiden.nl

Leiden (About this sound pronunciation )(in English and archaic Dutch also Leyden) is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands and has 118,000 inhabitants. It forms a single urban area with Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten, Valkenburg, Rijnsburg and Katwijk, with 254,000 inhabitants. It is located on the Old Rhine, close to the city of The Hague. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.

A university town since 1575, Leiden houses Leiden University and Leiden University Medical Centre. It is twinned with Oxford, the location of England's oldest university.



Although it is true that Leiden is an old city, its claimed connection with Roman Lugdunum Batavorum is spurious; Roman Lugdunum is actually near the close-by modern town of Katwijk,[1] whereas the Roman settlement near modern Leiden was called Matilo. However, there was a Roman fortress in Leiden in the 4th century.

Windmill museum in Leiden.

Leiden formed on an artificial hill at the confluence of the rivers Oude and Nieuwe Rijn (Old and New Rhine). In the oldest reference to this, from circa 860, the settlement was called Leithon. The landlord of Leiden, situated in a stronghold on the hill, was initially subject to the Bishop of Utrecht but around 1100 the burgraves became subject to the county of Holland. This county got its name in 1101 from a domain near the stronghold: Holtland or Holland.

Leiden was sacked in 1047 by Emperor Henry III. Early 13th century, Ada, Countess of Holland took refuge here when she was fighting in a civil war against her uncle, William I, Count of Holland. He besieged the stronghold and captured Ada.

Leiden received city rights in 1266. In 1389, its population had grown to about 4000 persons.

Siege of 1420

In 1420, during the Hook and Cod wars, Duke John of Bavaria along with his army marched from Gouda in the direction of Leiden in order to conquer the city since Leiden did not pay the new Count of Holland Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut, his niece and only daughter of Count William VI of Holland. The army was well equipped and had some guns.

Burgrave Filips of Wassenaar and the other local Hoekse noblemen assumed that the duke would besiege Leiden first and send small units out to conquer the surrounding citadels. But John of Bavaria chose to attack the citadels first.

He rolled the cannons with his army but one too heavy went per ship. By firing at the walls and gates with iron balls the citadels fell one by one. Within a week John of Bavaria conquered the castles of Poelgeest, Ter Does, Hoichmade, de Zijl, ter Waerd, Warmond and de Paddenpoel.

On 24 June the army appeared before the walls of Leiden. On 17 August 1420, after a two-month siege the city surrendered to John of Bavaria. The burgrave Filips of Wassenaar was stripped of his offices and rights and lived out his last years in captivity.

16th and 18th centuries

Otto van Veen: Relief of Leiden (1574), Inundated meadows allow the Dutch fleet access to the Spanish infantry positions.
17th-century houses along the Herengracht.

Leiden flourished in the 16th and 17th century. At the close of the 15th century the weaving establishments (mainly broadcloth) of Leiden were very important, and after the expulsion of the Spaniards Leiden cloth, Leiden baize and Leiden camlet were familiar terms. In the same period, Leiden developed an important printing and publishing industry. The influential printer Christoffel Plantijn lived there at one time. One of his pupils was Lodewijk Elzevir (1547–1617), who established the largest bookshop and printing works in Leiden, a business continued by his descendants through 1712 and the name subsequently adopted (in a variant spelling) by contemporary publisher Elsevier.

In 1572, the city sided with the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule and played an important role in the Eighty Years' War. Besieged from May until October 1574 by the Spanish, Leiden was relieved by the cutting of the dikes, thus enabling ships to carry provisions to the inhabitants of the flooded town. As a reward for the heroic defence of the previous year, the University of Leiden was founded by William I of Orange in 1575. Yearly on 3 October, the end of the siege is still celebrated in Leiden. Tradition tells that the citizens were offered the choice between a university and a certain exemption from taxes and chose the university.

Leiden is also known as the place where the Pilgrims (as well as some of the first settlers of New Amsterdam)[2][3] lived (and operated a printing press)[4] for a time in the early 17th century before their departure to Massachusetts and New Amsterdam in the New World.[5]

In the 17th century, Leiden prospered, in part because of the impetus to the textile industry by refugees from Flanders. While the city had lost about a third of its 15,000 citizens during the siege of 1574, it quickly recovered to 45,000 inhabitants in 1622, and may have come near to 70,000 circa 1670. During the Dutch Golden Era, Leiden was the second largest city of Holland, after Amsterdam.

From the late 17th century onwards Leiden slumped, mainly because of decline of the cloth industries. In the beginning of the 19th century the baize manufacture was altogether given up, although industry remained central to Leiden economy. This decline is painted vividly by the fall in population. The population of Leiden had sunk to 30,000 between 1796 and 1811, and in 1904 was 56,044.

From 17th to early 19th century, Leiden was the publishing place of one of the most important contemporary journals, Nouvelles Extraordinaires de Divers Endroits, known also as Gazette de Leyde.

19th and 20th century

On 12 January 1807, a catastrophe struck the city when a boat loaded with 17,400 kg of gunpowder blew up in the middle of Leiden. 151 persons were killed, over 2000 were injured and some 220 homes were destroyed. King Louis Bonaparte personally visited the city to provide assistance to the victims. Although located in the center of the city, the area destroyed remained empty for many years. In 1886 the space was turned into a public park.

In 1842, the railroad from Leiden to Haarlem was inaugurated and one year later the railway to Den Haag was completed, resulting in some improvements to the social and economic situation. But the number of citizens was still not much above 50000 in 1900. Not until 1896 did Leiden begin to expand beyond its 17th century moats. After 1920, new industries were established in the city, such as the canning and metal industries.

During World War II, Leiden was hit hard by Allied bombardments. The areas surrounding the railway station and Marewijk were almost completely destroyed.

Leiden today

Leiden's west gate, the Morspoort
Leiden's east gate, the Zijlpoort

Today Leiden forms an important part of Dutch history. The end of the Spanish siege in 1574 is celebrated on 3 October by an annual parade, a day off, a fair and eating the traditional food of herring and white bread and hutspot. However, the most important piece of Dutch history contributed by Leiden was the Constitution of the Netherlands. Johan Rudolf Thorbecke (1798–1872) wrote the Dutch Constitution in April 1848 in his house at Garenmarkt 9 in Leiden.

Leiden has important functions as a shopping and trade center for communities around the city. The University of Leiden is famous for its many developments including the famous Leyden jar, a capacitor made from a glass jar, invented in Leiden by Pieter van Musschenbroek in 1746. (It was actually first invented by Ewald Georg von Kleist in Germany the year before, but the name "Leyden jar" stuck.) Another development was in cryogenics: Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1913 Nobel prize winner in physics) liquefied helium for the first time (1908) and later managed to reach a temperature of less than one degree above the absolute minimum. Albert Einstein also spent some time at Leiden University during his early to middle career.

The city also houses the Eurotransplant, the international organization responsible for the mediation and allocation of organ donation procedures in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

Rivers, canals and parks

The two branches of the Old Rhine, which enter Leiden on the east, unite in the centre of the town. The town is further intersected by numerous small canals with tree-bordered quays. On the west side of the town, the Hortus Botanicus and other gardens extend along the old Singel, or outer canal. The Van der Werf Park is named after the mayor Pieter Adriaansz van der Werf, who defended the town against the Spaniards in 1574. The town was beleaguered for months and many died from famine. According to legend van der Werf was accused by a frantic crowd of secretly hiding food reserves. He denied this vehemently and to prove his sincerity offered to cut off his arm to serve as food for those who nearly died from famine. This made people back off, ashamed of their mistrust. The open space for the park was formed by the accidental explosion of a ship loaded with gunpowder in 1807, which destroyed hundreds of houses, including that of the Elsevier family of printers.

Buildings of interest

Because of the economic decline from the 17th to the early 20th century, much of the 16th and 17th century town centre is still intact. It's reportedly the second largest 17th century town centre in the Netherlands, the largest being Amsterdam's town centre.


At the strategically important junction of the two arms of the Old Rhine stands the old castle De Burcht, a circular tower built on an earthen mound. The mound probably was a refuge against high water before a small wooden fortress was built on top of it in the 11th century. The citadel is a so-called motte-and-bailey castle. Of Leiden's old city gates only two are left, the Zijlpoort and the Morspoort, both dating from the end of the 17th century. Apart from one small watch tower on the Singel nothing is left of the town's city walls. Another former fortification is the Gravensteen. Built as a fortress in the 13th century it has since served as house, library and prison. Presently it is one of the University's buildings.


Hooglandse kerk, Leiden

The chief of Leiden's numerous churches are the Hooglandse Kerk (or the church of St Pancras, built in the 15th century and containing a monument to Pieter Adriaansz van der Werf) and the Pieterskerk (church of St Peter (1315) with monuments to Scaliger, Boerhaave and other famous scholars. From a historical perspective the Marekerk is interesting too. Arent van 's Gravesande designed the church in 1639. Other fine examples of his work in Leiden are in the Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal (the municipal museum of fine arts), and the Bibliotheca Thysiana. The growing town needed another church and the Marekerk was the first church to be built in Leiden (and in Holland) after the Reformation. It is an example of Dutch Classicism. In the drawings by Van 's Gravesande the pulpit is the centrepiece of the church. The pulpit is modelled after the one in the Nieuwe Kerk at Haarlem (designed by Jacob van Campen). The building was first used in 1650, and is still in use.

University buildings

Looking along the Witte Singel (White Moat) towards the 1860 Leiden Observatory building

The town centre contains many buildings that are in use by the University of Leiden. The Academy Building is housed in a former 16th century convent. Among the institutions connected with the university are the national institution for East Indian languages, ethnology and geography; the botanical gardens, founded in 1587; the observatory (1860); the museum of antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden); and the ethnographical museum, of which P. F. von Siebold's Japanese collections was the nucleus (Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde). The Bibliotheca Thysiana occupies an old Renaissance building of the year 1655. It is especially rich in legal works and vernacular chronicles. Noteworthy are also the many special collections at Leiden University Library among which those of the Society of Dutch Literature (1766) and the collection of casts and engravings. In recent years the university has built the Bio Science Park at the city's outskirts to accommodate the Science departments.

Other buildings

Some other interesting buildings are the town hall (Stadhuis), a 16th century building that was badly damaged by a fire in 1929 but has its Renaissance facade designed by Lieven de Key still standing; the Gemeenslandshuis van Rynland (1596, restored in 1878); De Waag (weigh house in Dutch), built by Pieter Post; the former court-house (Gerecht); a corn-grinding windmill, now home to a museum (Molen de Valk) (1743); the old gymnasium (Latijnse School) (1599) and the city carpenter's yard and wharf (Stadstimmerwerf) (1612), both built by Lieven de Key (c. 1560–1627). Another building of interest is the "pesthuis", which was built at that time just outside the city for curing patients suffering the bubonic plague. However, after it was built the feared disease did not occur in the Netherlands anymore so it was never used for its original purpose, it now serves as the entrance of Naturalis, one of the largest natural history museums in the world. Oudt Leyden, the so called oldest pancake house (pannekoekenhuis in Dutch) in the world is home to its famous large pancakes and Delft crockery, it's also known for serving the likes of Winston Churchill and the Dalai Lama.

Public transport

Bus lines

  • Connexxion Region West:[6]
    • Bus stops and lines in Leiden:[7] (links to schedules by stop and line)
    • Bus lines with schedules by line in the region[8]


To plan a train journey follow the link[9]

Leiden is on the planned route of the RijnGouweLijn, the Netherland's first Light rail project. Within Leiden its route would have been: Leiden Lammenschans - Lammenschansweg - Oranjeboomstraat - sint Jorissteeg - Watersteeg - Hooigracht - Pelikaanstraat - Klokpoort - Langegracht - Lammermarkt - Molenwerf - Schuttersveld - Station Leiden Centraal (stationsplein zijde) - Albinusdreef (LUMC) - Sandfortdreef - Zernikedreef (Hogeschool) - (Einsteinweg) - Ehrenfestweg - Transferium A44.

Famous inhabitants

See also People from Leiden

The following is a selection of important Leidenaren throughout history:

Town twinning

Leiden's twin towns are:


See also


  1. ^ http://www.livius.org/ga-gh/germania/lugdunum.html
  2. ^ http://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/modules.php?name=Sections&op=printpage&artid=40
  3. ^ http://pages.prodigy.net/parrish/MapGroundZero.html
  4. ^ http://www.pilgrimhall.org/pilpress.htm
  5. ^ http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1999/2/1999_2_102.shtml
  6. ^ http://www.connexxion.nl/website/uwregio.asp?action=goto_regio&regioid=34&id=35
  7. ^ http://www.aidem-media.com/projects/conneXXion2/index.php?step=1&plaats=leiden&d%5Bd%5D=20&d%5Bm%5D=11&d%5By%5D=2003
  8. ^ http://www.connexxion.nl/website/dienstregeling.asp?command=reisinfo_dienstregeling&overid=55&overidmem=54&regioid=34&id=35
  9. ^ http://www.ns.nl
  10. ^ http://mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/topten.asp?articleid=14&zoneid=15

External links

Museums and libraries


Adjacent municipalities


Coordinates: 52°10′N 4°29′E / 52.167°N 4.483°E / 52.167; 4.483

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The west gate of Leiden
The west gate of Leiden

Leiden [1] is a town in the Netherlands. The city is known for its oldest university in the country, the birthplace of Rembrandt and its beautiful, old city centre (the second biggest after Amsterdam). It is a friendly, small city which has a large population of students.

Get in

By train

Leiden is best reached by train. The journey takes 15 minutes from The Hague, and 20 minutes from Schiphol Airport, the principal airport in the Netherlands. The journey from Amsterdam takes between 30 and 40 minutes.

Most trains arrive at Leiden Centraal, which is 500m North-West of the City Center, and 1km from the City Hall. Leiden Lammenschans station is on the opposite side of the city center, just over 1km from the City Hall. If you do not feel like walking from the station to the centre you can take a bus (ask which ones go to the Breestraat bus stop); this costs €1 during off hours.

By car

In spite of the two highways around Leiden (A4 and A44), the centre of Leiden isn't easy to reach by car. It is best to try and park your car at the transferium (FREE parking) and continue your journey by bus. For this transferium you have to follow the A44 and then take exit 8 (Katwijk, Leiden Transferium). There are also parking lots on the Morsweg (south-west of the town centre) and on the Langegracht (north of town centre, near the station). These parking lots are crowded though, and there's no guarantee there will be space here, especially during the summer. Otherwise there are parking lots at the Groenoordhallen and Haagweg from where free shuttle busses run to the city centre. Outside the old center, the area inside the Singel canal, parking is free everywhere.

By bus

Leiden train station is a central hub for the local bus network, so if you want to go anywhere local your best bet is to go here and ask around.

Get around

Everything is easily reached on foot and the city is positively charming as a walking pleasure. Alternatively you can rent a bike at the railway station's bike shops.



Leiden is one of the most important museum cities in the Netherlands. Three national museums are located in Leiden, among others, that worth to visit. All major museums are within 10-15 minutes of walking distance from the central station.

  • Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities), Rapenburg 28, +31-71–5163163, [2]. Tu-F, 10AM-5PM & Sa/Su/holidays, 12AM-5PM. Includes an outstanding collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities, and a small temple that was given to the Netherlands by the Egyptians for their help with the Aswan monuments transfer project. It also features an exhibition on the archeological history of the Netherlands including dug-up burial treasures and the like. Adult € 7.50, Child (4-17) € 6.50.
  • Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology), Steenstraat 1, +31-71-5168800, [3]. Tu-Su/holidays, 10AM-5PM. The museum shows the culture of native peoples around the world in a refreshingly open-minded way. Permanent exhibitions are grouped based on geographical regions. A good, well thought-out museum with lots of background information in its bookshop, extensive library, and computer screens that are strewn about the museum. Of special interest are the temporary exhibits. Adult € 7.50, Child (4-12) & Over 65 € 4. Permanent exhibition is free of charge on Wednesday.
  • Naturalis (National museum of natural history), Darwinweg 2, +31-71-5687600, [4]. Tu-F, 10AM-5PM, Sa/Su/holidays, 10AM-6PM. The main part of the museum tells the story of life on earth through bones, fossils, etc. The museum also features a collection of specimens from extinct animals, including bones from a Dodo. Do not miss the treasure chamber (schatkamer) where exceptional and valuable collections, such as extinct animal bones, gemstones, etc., are on display. The treasure chamber is sometime closed for security reason. The museum is meant to be accessible for all ages; the temporary exhibitions are often (partially) aimed at children. Child (0-3) free, (4-12) € 5, (13-17) € 6, adult (> 18) € 11.
Molen de Valk, windmill museum.
Molen de Valk, windmill museum.
  • Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Oude Singel 28-32, +31-71-5165360, [5]. Tu-Su, 10AM-5PM. Municipal museum in the 17th century former clothmaker's hall. Permanent collection shows artifacts and art objects throughout the history of Leiden from 16th century. Adult (18-65) € 4, otherwise free of charge.
  • Museum Boerhaave, Lange St. Agnietenstraat 10, +31-71-5214224, [6]. Tu-Sa, 10AM-5PM, Su/holidays, 12AM-5PM. The Boerhaave Museum, named after the 16th century physician and biologist Herman Boerhaave, is the Dutch National Museum of the History of Science and Medicine. It features an extensive exhibition of scientific equipment from 1600 onwards. Highlights include the Theatrum Anatomicum (a mock-up of a lecture theatre where anatomical lessons were held), Gravesande demonstration experiments (first demonstration experiments to show Newtonian physics), the first microscope, the first helium liquefier and the first Fahrenheit thermometer. Adults € 6, child (<9) and over 65 € 3.
  • Hortus Botanicus, Rapenburg 73, +31-71-5277249. [7]. Apr. 1st-Oct. 31st, everyday open 10AM-6PM, Nov. 1st-Mar. 31st, Su-F, 10AM-4PM. It is a botanical garden that hosts different species of flowers and trees around the world. It is part of the University of Leiden. Adult € 5, child (4-12) € 2.5, over 65 € 3.
  • Molen de Valk. It was a flour windmill and now is a windmill museum. Located in just less than 5 minutes walk from Leiden central station. You can climb through all the mill's levels. On the top, you can admire the view of Leiden.
  • The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum [8] It's actually a small house (built between 1365 and 1370) opposite the bell tower of the Hooglandse kerk, furnished in the style common to the Pilgrim era. Beschuitsteeg 9, +31 (0) 71 5122413. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Entrance costs €3,-

if you intend to stay for longer period of time in the Netherland and your affection is on visiting museums, then it is advised to apply for the 1-year museum card (museumjaarkaart). The museum card is only for € 40 for first time cardholders and you gain free access to more than 400 museums at anytime. Those under the age of 25 may purchase one for about €17.50. You can buy this card at any major museum.

  • Academiegebouw.- Old university building still used for ceremonies and a few studies. The building borders on the Rapenburg. On the other side the academiegebouw borders on the Hortus Botanicus.
  • Pieterskerk - The Church of St. Peter (the patron saint of the city) is a 16th century church, in late-Gothic style. An feature which Americans will find interesting is that this church is associated with the Pilgrim Fathers, whose leader John Robinson, lived in the nearby Pieterskerkchoorsteeg (house is marked with a plaque). The church itself features a small exhibition on the Pilgrims in Leiden. People buried here include the physician Boerhave, the painter Jan Steen (of Rijksmuseum fame) and the aforementioned Pilgrim leader Robinson.
  • Hooglandse Kerk Dedicated to St Pancras and located at the site of an earlier wooden chapel dating from 1314. Construction started in 1377 but parts the building were left lower than originally planned when construction was halted in the sixteenth century. Houses were built against it's walls during the seventeenth century. Inside you can find a lying tombstone belonging to the tomb of Justinus van Nassau, illegitimate child of William of Orange.
  • Stadhuis with an old renaissance facade dating from 1597. The newer building lying behind this facade was built to replace the older one, destroyed in a fire in 1929.
  • Burcht Dated back to at least the middle ages, freely accessible.
  • Canals - Oude Rijn - The oldest branch of the Rhine river is little more than a city canal here. Historically, this waterway is what gave the area it's importance, first as a Roman border, then during the Golden Age as a trade route. Nowadays, river traffic doesn't use this branch and the river just serves to fill the city's canals with water. The area between the Oude Rijn and Nieuwe Rijn is one of the most undisturbed bits of Leiden - go here if you like walking along canals without getting run over by shoppers. On the other side of the city centre (Weddesteeg, Galgewater) is the place where the canals recombine - this is one of the most beautiful spots in Leiden, with a windmill, the old city gate, a small park, and a wooden bridge over the river (see also the image at the head of this article).
  • The Van der Werff Park is named after the mayor Pieter Adriaanszoon van der Werff, who defended the town against the Spaniards in 1574, 6 years into the Eighty Years War of Independence (1568-1648) against the Spaniards. The town was beleaguered for months and many died from hunger. According to legend van der Werff was accused by a frantic crowd of secretly hiding food reserves. He denied it vehemently and to prove his sincerity offered to cut off his arm to serve as food. This made people back off, ashamed of their mistrust. The Van der Werff Park is one of the small parks in Leiden's centre and is probably the most interesting one due to its history. There used to be blocks of houses here but during the cold afternoon of January 12, 1807, a disaster occurred. A ship filled with 18 tons of gunpowder blew up, leveling the surrounding blocks of houses on both sides of the canal and killing hundreds in the process. It's claimed the explosion was heard all the way in Groningen (250 kilometers away). Years later, the area was turned into a park on one side and a laboratory was built on the other; the Kamerlingh Onnes laboratory: famed for at one time being the coldest place on earth, where helium was liquefied for the first time, and superconductivity discovered, which earned Kamerlingh Onnes a Nobel Prize.


There are two wonderful ways to stroll the old centre of Leiden. One way is to print out a paper guide that will guide you along the poems on the wall, the Muurgedichten. In 1992, the painting project was started and it was recently finished. More than 80 poems from all over the world are painted on the walls of houses. The tour will show you about 25 poems, the whole tour taking about two hours. The guide is downloadable at www.muurgedichten.nl/wandeling.

The other way is to take a tour along the courtyards that are often hidden behind the facades of houses. The Hofjeswandeling will start at the Burcht in the city centre all year round on Sundays at two, and from March until October on Tuesdays and Thursdays at two. The costs of the tour are €2.25 for adults and children (-12 years) for free. No need to buy tickets, just be present at the starting time. The tour will take about two hours.

A boat trip through the canals is also a wonderful thing to do. There are many canals, and they lead you by the most beautiful streets of the city centre. You can buy tickets for the canal cruises at the Beestenmarkt, just two minutes from the Central Station. There you can also go aboard.

  • Leidsch Filmfestival [9] (in Dutch) A small yearly film festival (in 2009 from the 27th of oktober until the 1st of November) encompassing mainstream and smaller art-house films. It gets some Dutch premiers.
  • Leidsche bluesweek A yearly festival with performances by mainly (but not exclusively) Dutch performers. The Wednesday night pub-crawl is a blast with many bars hosting live music (For other venues you do have to buy tickets though they're not expensive).
  • Werfpop [10] (in Dutch) A small scale musicfestival with performances ranging from metal to dance. (in 2009 it is held on 12th of July with a.o. performances by Infadels, Voicst, Naplm Death, Dio and the Dead letters).
  • Leidsche lakenfeesten [11] (in Dutch) A week of different activities in the city center and on the canals. There's a culinairy festival, and the museumnight.
  • 3rd of October celebrations [12] (site of the 3 oktober vereniging; in Dutch). Celebrations commemorating the end of the Spanish siege of Leiden (in 1547). Part of the festivities is a huge fun fair.

A comprehensive program of all of the summer festivals and activities can be found at Zomer in Leiden [13] (in Dutch)


Haarlemmerstraat and Breestraat are the main shopping streets at the heart of the city center. They are both reachable within 10-15 min. walking from the central station. Shops include bookstores, fashion shops and other ordinary shopping items. In the areas around the Pieterskerk and Hooglandsekerk, small boutiques and antique shops are worth a visit. On Monday, shops open late from 12 noon until 5 or 6PM. Some shops (The big concerns and some other) are open every Sunday, except at the last Sunday of the month, called koopzondag, then all the shopes are open. On Thursday, shops are open late, till around 9PM (koopavond).

On Saturdays from 07:00 and on Wednesdays from 12:00, there is an open market along the canal between the Nieuwe Rijn and Vismarkt streets. They sell vegetables, fruits, fish, flowers, bread, meat, you name it.

Speciality shops:

  • Souvenirs of Leiden can be found at the VVV tourist office, Stationsweg 2D. Some major museums also sell their own souvenirs.
  • Maps, routes and other travel accessories are mostly found at the ANWB shop, Stationsweg 2, but they are not always complete. A special shop that sells almost complete map of cycling routes, walking routes, and any other maps is the Reisboekhandel Zandvliet at Stille Rijn 13.
  • Travel accessories including maps, travel guides, backpacks, and airplane tickets can be bought at the joho company a few doors from Reisboekenhandel Zandvliet at Stille Rijn 8-9
  • Treinreiswinkel is a travel agency specializing in rail travel. They are well informed and can arrange international train tickets and even a complete package tour if you wish. They also sell interrail tickets. It's at Breestraat 57, 2311 CJ +31 (0) 71 5137008. They also have an Amsterdam office.


Leiden has a lot of restaurants and bars. Especially in the Pieterswijk (the east side of the Breestraat) are a lot of cosy restaurants.

Some of the restaurants in Leiden:

  • Delphi, Nieuwe rijn 52, 0715141778. This restaurant serves the best Greek food in Leiden and can get quite busy because of it's great value for money.
  • Donattelo's, Haarlemmerstraat 20, 071 5147938. Good pizza, if you enjoy a student atmosphere!
  • Olive Garden, 071 51.22.529, Italian. Not pizza, but true Italian food. Not cheap, reservations a must on Thursday, Friday and Weekends.
  • De Oude Harmonie, Breestraat, 071 5122153. Student fare, the dailies are good value for money.
  • Porto Pino, Haven 40, 071 5219505. Serves the same type of delicious Italian foods as 'Olive garden' so no Pizza! It's a bit to the east of the centre at the recreational harbour, near the Zijlpoort.
  • Sabai Sabai, Noordeinde, 071 51.31.914, Thai. Best Thai in town, visited even by Thai embassy officials.
  • Verboden Toegang, Kaiserstraat 7, 071-5143388, [14].
  • De Branderij [15], Nieuwstraat 32, +31 (0) 71 5142158. Great food in a somewhat higher price range.
  • Het prentenkabinet [16]. Just about the best culinary experience (in French oriented cuisine) Leiden has to offer (bring your wallet though) and situated in a monumental building opposite the Pieterskerk. Kloksteeg 25, 2311 SK Leiden +31 (0) 71 5126666.
  • Tandoori way Indian restaurant next to the Praethuis bar (see under drinking section) opposite the remains of the 'onze lieve vrouwe kerk' and Olive garden

For fast(er) food lovers there are several options:

  • Smulshop Spare ribs, Gyros and other fare. It seems to get mixed reviews though. Morsweg 40, 2312 AE, +31 (0) 71 5130819
  • AK-AL At the corner of the Haarlemmerstraat and the Pelikaanstraat (opposite the English pub called Bad Habits) serves delicious Turkish Pizza's on the go and the infamous 'Kapsalon' (French Fries, topped with doner kebak, lettuce, onions, cheese, spicy sauce and garlick sauce) which will fill you up for the rest of the week. It's also a bakery offering tasty Turkish and loaf-type breads and great croissants!
  • Verswinkel Great breadrolls made right in front of you. Botermarkt 3, 2311 EM +31 (0) 71 5141214.
  • Eazy Oriental style wok dishes. Freshly made, delicious and healthy. Breestraat 157, 2311 CN Leiden. +31 (0) 71 5138867
  • Maoz Falafel and more falafel and pretty good too. Haarlemmerstraat 61, 2312 DL, +31 (0) 5144424‎

If you don't find anything of your liking above, there's a plethora of places offering anything from French fries to Shoarma and Pizza and yes; there is a Mc Donalds (two in fact).

  • Einstein Great for lounging on summertime evenings.
  • De Burcht Grand cafe, a mix of 30's grandeur and 50's and 60's furniture.
  • Meneer Jansen Small but cosy cafe frequented by members of the city council and a lot of others as well.
  • De Kroeg Fun staff, fun atmosphere, fun times....often a regular spot for college students.
  • Roebels Tiny but usually packed student bar.
  • Cafe Storm Tiny and not so packed student bar.
  • Olo Rosso A bar for most of the week but in the weekends it turns into a club.
  • In den Oude Maren Poort Larger, and usually packed student bar.
  • Lemmy's Belgian beer bar. Free peanuts and digital fireplace!
  • De Twee Spieghels Cozy, friendly, fabulous location (near the Burcht and Hooglandsekerk).
  • Dranklokaal de WW Hidden in a small back alley opposing the Breestraat entrance of the Stadhuis, this place is hugely popular in the weekends. The place has been cut into 2 equal sections since the smoking ban came into effect and the smoking section is the biggest in Leiden
  • Praethuis A local haunt with a dark interior coupled with dark brown furnishings and finishings and mainly 60's and 70s music. It has a great terrace around the remains of the 'onze lieve vrouwenkerk' (of pilgrim fame).
  • LVC [17] (in Dutch). Leiden's take on the music club. It's cramped, it's small and doesn't get too many of the big names but you can have a great time all the same. There are several parties organized there throughout the week, intersperced with live bands.
  • Qbus [18] (Dutch) Different types of live music and ranging from local heroes to international names.
  • Bar en Boos [19] (Dutch) All sorts of music and performances ranging from acoustic jam sessions to full on punk and metal performances. It's part of the 'vrijplaats koppenhinksteeg', which is a social initiative with a as of yet, uncertain future.
  • CityHall [20] (Dutch) (located at the back of the Stadhuis). Billed as a cafe/ restaurant it's really a bit of everyting and gets crowded on Friday and Saturday evenings. There is a DJ on these days.
  • Lido/ Studio [21] (Dutch) Offers mostly regular hollywood fare. The 70's interior is in serious need of an upgrade.
  • Trianon [22] (Dutch) Grand old dame and with a brilliantly restored art deco/ art nouveau main theatre. Offers hollywood fare but also a smaller/ independent pictures.
  • Kijkhuis [23] (Dutch) Opposite olive garden's kitchen is a bit of a hole-in-the-wall type of place but still sports two small (ragged) theatres which show mostly arthouse films. It does the job but looks like a metalband performed there.
  • Stedelijk concertgebouw Leiden [24] (Dutch)is schedueled to be opened in September/ October 2009.
  • Leidsche schouwburg [25] (Dutch) A posh place for watching theatre and occasionally music (if you can get tickets)
  • De X [26] (Dutch) Multicultural stage for performers of jazz-, world, crossover and pop music as well as poetry and boogy nights.
  • Scheltema complex [27]. Offers musiscians, contemporary artists and scientists a place to get in touch with oneanother, leading to performances and expositions and such. There's also a restaurant.
  • Stochemhoeve Camping [28] This is a family managed small camping located near a park and recreational area just outside of Leiden. Location: Cronesteyn 3, 2322 LH Leiden. Telephone +31 (0) 71 5721141.
  • Nieuw Minerva [29], Boommarkt 23, Leiden. Located in six prestigious 16th-century canal houses. Located in the centre of Leiden, it is close to Museums, the Academic Building and faculties of Leiden University.
  • De Doelen [30], Rapenburg 2, Leiden . The hotel is situated in an ancient Patrician mansion, built in 1638.
  • Golden Tulip, Schipholweg 3, Leiden. Located in a bland modern building just north of the railwaystation at Schipholweg 3, Leiden
  • Flying Pig Beach Hostel [31] Belongs to the same chain of hostels as the ones in Amsterdam. It's about 15 kilometres from Leiden and you have to take a bus to get there (Take bus no 232 or 44 from Leiden central station to Noordwijk Picketplein, from there it's a five minute walk). The adress is: Parallel Boulevard 208, 2202 HT, Noordwijk. The telephone number is + 31 (0) 713622533 and the email adress is: beachhostel@flyingpig.nl. For up-to-date information, check their website.

Get out

Leiden is a city in the Green Heart (Groene Hart) between the largest cities in Holland. It is surrounded by green meadows, little villages, and, in spring time, the world famous flower fields. From Leiden Central Station a bus (number 54) goes directly to the Keukenhof, an enormous park open from the end of March until the end of May, in which more than 7 million flower bulbs bloom. But you can also take your car or rent a bike and find the fields yourself. The route will lead you through lovely villages.

Leiden is also very close to the beach. Katwijk aan Zee and Noordwijk aan Zee are the closest seaside villages, at just 20 minutes by car. Be aware that on beautiful summer days, the car will probably be stuck in traffic. You can also take a bicycle, which will take you approximately 45 minutes.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LEIDEN or Leyden, a city in the province of South Holland, the kingdom of the Netherlands, on the Old Rhine, and a junction station 18 m. by rail S.S.W. of Haarlem. It is connected by steam tramway with Haarlem and The Hague respectively, and with the seaside resorts of Katwyk and Noordwyk. There is also regular steamboat connexion with Katwyk, Noordwyk, Amsterdam and Gouda. The population of Leiden which, it is estimated, reached ioo,000 in 1640, had sunk to 30,000 between 1796 and 1811, and in 1904 was 56,044. The two branches of the Rhine which enter Leiden on the east unite in the centre of the town, which is further intersected by numerous small and sombre canals, with tree-bordered quays and old houses. On the south side of the town pleasant gardens extend along the old Singel, or outer canal, and there is a large open space, the Van der Werf Park, named after the burgomaster, Pieter Andriaanszoon van der Werf, who defended the town against the Spaniards in 1574 This open space was formed by the accidental explosion of a powdership in 1807, hundreds of houses being demolished, including that of the Elzevir family of printers. At the junction of the two arms of the Rhine stands the old castle (De Burcht), a circular tower built on an earthen mound. Its origin is unknown, but some connect it with Roman days and others with the Saxon Hengist. Of Leiden's old gateways only two - both dating from the end of the 17th century - are standing. Of the numerous churches the chief are the Hooglandsche Kerk, or the church of St Pancras, built in the 15th century and restored in 18851 9 02, containing the monument of Pieter Andriaanszoon van der Werf, and the Pieterskerk (1315) with monuments to Scaliger, Boerhaave and other famous scholars. The most interesting buildings are the town hall (Stadhuis), a fine example of ,6thcentury Dutch building; the Gemeenlandshuis van Rynland (1596, restored 1878); the weigh-house built by Pieter Post (1658); the former court-house, now a military storehouse; and the ancient gymnasium (1599) and the so-called city timberhouse (Stads Timmerhuis) (1612), both built by Lieven de Key (c. 1560-1627).

In spite of a certain industrial activity and the periodical bustle of its cattle and dairy markets, Leiden remains essentially an academic city. The university is a flourishing institution. It was founded by William of Orange in 1575 as a reward for the heroic defence of the previous year, the tradition being that the citizens were offered the choice between a university and a certain exemption from taxes. Originally located in the convent of St Barbara, the university was removed in 1581 to the convent of the White Nuns, the site of which it still occupies, though that building was destroyed in 1616. The presence within half a century of the date of its foundation of such scholars as Justus Lipsius, Joseph Scaliger, Francis Gomarus, Hugo Grotius, Jacobus Arminius, Daniel Heinsius and Guardas Johannes Vossius, at once raised Leiden university to the highest European fame, a position which the learning and reputation of Jacobus Gronovius, Hermann Boerhaave, Tiberius Hem sterhuis and David Ruhnken, among others, enabled it to maintain down to the end of the 18th century. The portraits of many famous professors since the earliest days hang in the university aula, one of the most memorable places, as Niebuhr called it, in the history of science. The university library contains upwards of 190,000 volumes and 6000 MSS. and pamphlet portfolios, and is very rich in Oriental and Greek MSS. and old Dutch travels. Among the institutions connected with the university are the national institution for East Indian languages, ethnology and geography; the fine botanical gardens, founded in 1587; the observatory (1860); the natural history museum, with a very complete anatomical cabinet; the museum of antiquities (Museum van Oudheden), with specially valuable Egyptian and Indian departments; a museum of Dutch antiquities from the earliest times; and three ethnographical museums, of which the nucleus was P. F. von Siebold's Japanese collections. The anatomical and pathological laboratories of the university are modern, and the museums of geology and mineralogy have been restored. The university has now five faculties, of which those of law and medicine are the most celebrated, and is attended by about 1200 students.

The municipal museum, founded in 1869 and located in the old cloth-hall (Laeckenhalle) (1640), contains a varied collection of antiquities connected with Leiden, as well as some paintings including works by the elder van Swanenburgh, Cornelius Engelbrechtszoon, Lucas van Leiden and Jan Steen, who were all natives of Leiden. Jan van Goyen, Gabriel Metsu, Gerard Dou and Rembrandt were also natives of this town. There is also a small collection of paintings in the Meermansburg. The Thysian library occupies an old Renaissance building of the year 1655, and is especially rich in legal works and native chronicles. Noteworthy also are the collection of the Society of Dutch Literature (1766); the collections of casts and of engravings; the seamen's training school; the Remonstrant seminary, transferred hither from Amsterdam in 1873; the two hospitals (one of which is private); the house of correction; and the court-house.

Leiden is an ancient town, although it is not the Lugdunum Batavorum of the Romans. Its early name was Leithen, and it was governed until 1420 by burgraves, the representatives of the courts of Holland. The most celebrated event in its history is its siege by the Spaniards in 1574. Besieged from May until October, it was at length relieved by the cutting of the dikes, thus enabling ships to carry provisions to the inhabitants of the flooded town. The weaving establishments (mainly broadcloth) of Leiden at the close of the 15th century were very important, and after the expulsion of the Spaniards Leiden cloth, Leiden baize and Leiden camlet were familiar terms. These industries afterwards declined, and in the beginning of the 19th century the baize manufacture was altogether given up. Linen and woollen manufactures are now the most important industries, while there is a considerable transit trade in butter and cheese.

Katwyk, or Katwijk, 6 m. N.W. of Leiden, is a popular seaside resort and fishing village. Close by are the great locks constructed in 1807 by the engineer, F. W. Conrad (d. 1808), through which the Rhine (here called the Katwyk canal) is admitted into the sea at low tide. The shore and the entrance to the canal are strengthened by huge dikes. In 1520 an ancient Roman camp known as the Brittenburg was discovered here. It was square in shape, each side measuring 82 yds., and the remains stood about 10 ft. high. By the middle of the 18th century it had been destroyed and covered by the sea.

See P. J. Blok, Eine hollandsche stad in de middeleeuwen (The Hague, 1883); and for the siege see J. L. Motley, The Rise of the Dutch Republic (1896).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also leiden



Wikipedia has an article on:


Alternative forms

Leyden (archaic)



From Latin Lugdunum Batavorum (although the modern site is that of Roman Matilo, confused with modern Katwijk)

Proper noun




  1. A city in South Holland on the Old Rhine, seat of a famous Dutch university.




Leiden n. (genitive Leidens, plural Leiden, no diminutive)

  1. suffering, pain, grief

Related terms

See also

Simple English

Leiden is a city in the west of the Netherlands. It has about 120,000 inhabitants and a very old university.

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