Leiden is a city in South Holland of about 120,000 people (330,000 including suburbs). It lies near the coast about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Amsterdam and about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) northeast of The Hague.
Leiden is a university town with several claims to fame. Rembrandt was born here. The first tulips in the Netherlands were planted here. Every October the city puts on a three-day festival celebrating the city’s withstanding a six-month siege by Spanish forces in the 16th century. The Pilgrim Fathers lived here for eleven years before sailing to Massachusetts. John Robinson, their leader and pastor, was too ill for the voyage and stayed behind. He is buried here in the Pieterskerk. The city is renowned for its many museums including one on the Pilgrims. There’s even a Mayflower Hotel not far from the Central Train Station.
Our Plan B was to get back on the train and continue to The Hague if we didn’t like Leiden. But we found Leiden to be a peaceful and picturesque Dutch town and we enjoyed our relaxing afternoon walk around the central part of town. During our walk we stopped for lunch, toured a windmill, visited a Catholic church and did a little shopping.
Newer part of Leiden near the Centraal Station.
Leiden publicity near Visitor Center.
Henry found a nice place to rest early on during our walk.
View from the first canal bridge we encountered on our walk. We visited this windmill after lunch.
View from our table at lunch.
Statue near the cafe where we had lunch.
Walking toward Beestenmarkt after our windmill visit.
At Beestenmarkt we crossed the bridge and walked down Oude Vest for awhile.
Another view of Oude Vest.
Leiden’s municipal museum, Museum de Lakenhal. The 17th century building used to house the city’s clothmaker’s guild.
Wooden bridge near the museum.
During the Reformation Protestants simply took over existing Catholic churches. Marekerk was the first Protestant church in Leiden built after the Reformation (1650).
The main entrance to Marekerk.
Walking down Korte Mare.
First store we came across on Haarlemmerstraat.
Haarlememmerstraat is Leiden’s main shopping area.
Hartebrugkerk on Haarlememmerstraat. We paused to visit this Catholic church and then proceeded all the way to the end of the shopping street.
It’s a pretty long street.
Statue of Laurens Koster holding the letter “A” above the Amigo store. Many people in the Netherlands believe Koster invented the printing press before Gutenberg.
My wife loved this shopping area!
Geraldine and Henry waiting for my wife.
Henry: What is your wife wearing?
Me: A dark blue blouse.
Henry: Well, it’s bright orange now!
A lot of the store signs are in English.
And those that aren’t in English usually can be figured out.
Drug store (drogist) on Haarlemmerstraat.
I have no idea what this is all about. I do remember Bjorn Borg, the famous Swedish tennis star of many years ago.
Looking at Beestenmarkt from the Blauwpoorts bridge on the Old Rhine (Oude Rijn). You can sign up for a canal boat tour here. The confluence of the Old Rhine and New Rhine is not far from here.
Outdoor book market.
From Blauwpoortsbrug we walked back to the train station and returned to Amsterdam. It was our last night in the Netherlands and we had a farewell dinner with our Irish cousins at the Marriott Hotel’s Midtown Grill. They stayed on for another day and then flew back to Belfast. We went back to Centraal Station in the morning and took the train to Osnabruck where we spent the next three days in the land of my German ancestors.
Tomorrow: The Hartebrugkerk in Leiden.