Historical Leiden, Leiden
After you passed the Boerhave museum go right, at the end left and then first right again. Cross the bridge and you are in front of the Lakenhal.
The Lakenhal (clothmakers' hall) was built in 1640 by Arent van ' Gravesande. The Leiden cloth was inspected here and the Governors of the cloth industry held their meetings in this hall. The textile industry was important to Leiden. Since 1874 the Municipal Museum of Leiden is housed in the Lakenhal. They have a lot of items connecting to the clothindustry. Events from Leiden's history are also depicted, such as the siege of the city and its relief on October 3, 1574. (see general tips to know more about thishistory)
The Lakenhal is a museum of typical Dutch urban culture from the 16th century to the present.
Tuesday till Sunday 10 AM - 5 PM
De Burcht (Leiden Castle) dates back to the 12th century. Initially it consisted of a man made hill and a wooden fortification on top of it. Around 1150 the wooden fortification was replaced by a stone castle that still exists today. The castle consists of a tuff and brick circular wall with ramparts resting on arches. The carvings surrounding the gate are a decorative addition from the 18th century.
The castle was built in a bend of the Old Rhine. At the time, it's position was a strategic one. However, these days the river is not more than a canal that slowly flows through the town. In addition, the water can no longer be seen from the castle because so many buildings were built around the hill during the 18th century.
The castle was probably never used for permanent habitation and merely served as a refuge for the residents and their belongings in times of peril. The castle suffered considerable damage as a result of a siege in 1203 and it lost its military function in the beginning of the 14th century. It was bought by the town council in 1651.
According to some, the well inside the castle was very deep and that it received its water from the North Sea which is located about 8 kilometres away. This was allegedly so because a herring was once caught in the well inside the castle. This well is however dry nowadays.
Open: daily from 07:00 till 23:00.
Admission: free of charge
De Waag was built in 1659 by the famous dutch architect Pieter Post. He also designed Palace Huis ten Bosch, where our queen lives. Until 1972 it was in use for tradepurposes like weighing and selling cheese.
Then the city of Leiden bought the uilding to preserve it and use it as a multipurpose theatre for music recitals, meetings etc.
My notebooks are sadly devoid of detailed information on these items though I can tell you that pics 2,3 and 4 were all taken in the Municipal Museum De Lakenhal at the front which is about the only place you are allowed to use your camera.
On the last photo the date 1599 is readily discernable as is 1592 on the second picture.
Zijlpoort and the Morspoort, both dating from the end of the 17th century, are all that remain of the city's 8 entry gateways. The Morspoort, shown her, is the western one.
Apart from one small watch tower on the Singel nothing is left of the town's city walls.
This is known locally as the fort and is not a natural rise in the land. It was built up in the mid 12th century as a defence against the waters of the Rhine.
As it was a central point, the city grew around it until its original use was negated. In 1651 the area was purchased from the viscount by the city magistrate (on behalf of the townsfolk) and from that point it became the park it is today and a focal point for tourists.
Water from the well here was once pumped to two fountains, one for cleaning fish. The pump itself was driven by horses.
It would appear that this is a statue of a Bergemeester (Lord Mayor) whose name was Pieter . I say "appear" because there's certainly a dearth of information about him on the internet, which I found surprising considering the size of the statue.
However, to the rescue came Koos, MargaretVN's better half, and filled in some details for me.
The statue is actually the feature of Van der Werff Park. Pieter Adriaansz van der Were (Werff) was burgomaster in 1574, when Leiden was besieged by the Spaniards. It was on Pieter's orders that the dykes were breached.
For the following I am grateful to Koos (MargaretVN's partner)
"I've got some more information about Van der Werff. He was born in 1529 and changed his name from Vermeer to Van der Werff. His full name then became Pieter Adrfiaanszn van der Werff. Werff means nothing more than yard and he took this name because he worked there (he did some fur business). He got involved in politics, became mayor and when the spaniards besieged Leiden (Leyden at the time) and no food was available anymore he offered his body! This generous offer was refused but up to this day he is still famous for doing that. He was re-elected many times after that. He also worked for care institutions, leprosy a.o. and the name of one of these hospitals is still existing."
The Spaniards were the losers and they were flooded away. This historical episode is still celebrated on the 3rd of October each year.
Still, the two dates on it, 1724 and 1884 (in Roman numerals), confused me even further as I would have expected them to record his birth and death. I'm looking into it.
The gateways at the base are somewhat ornate and adorned with coats of arms. Indeed, the original city inn and coach house was constructed at the foot of the mound and you can still eat in some stylish cafes at the base even today.
Something I found fascinating was the stories that have been told down the centuries. Stories such as herring from the sea being caught from the well (in which you see the Gothic dressed youth in pic 3), such as secret passages leading to beyond the city walls, such as things thrown into the well ending up on the beach at Katwijk. Romantic as they are, sadly none of them are true!
January 12st, 1807. If you're planning a trip to Leiden, remember that date. It is writ large upon the city's history.
Turns out there was a boat in the middle of the city, not normally something to worry about except, this one was carrying gunpowder, not the most stable of products. By now you will undoubtedly already have surmised what happened next.
What got me intrigued was the amount of damage it all did. 150 people died. Canalside buildings were flattened. It simply erupted in a huge explosion between the Oude Vest and the Oude Singel, these days cleverly recreated in the Municipal Museum De Lakenhal.
There's a book inside the museum; quite a large one as it turns out, and it comes from post explosion research that someone did and it documents eyewitness accounts and details that would otherwise have been forgotten.
1573 and 1574 were not comfortable times for Leiden. No, the famed William of Orange (William the Silent) was very busy trying to get rid of the Spanish. Outgunned, so to speak, he came up with the brilliant idea of breaching the dykes, an act commemorated in the following tip as well.
The Spanish, not liking the idea of a swim in full armour, decided to flee and William and his crew entered the city of Leiden at this very spot laden with foodstuffs, notably herring and white bread, an act greatly appreciated by the starving residents.
There was also an edible item used by the Spanish called "Hutspot" and all of the above are still eaten in Leiden today, especially on the 3rd of October in remembrance.
Another little known fact is that the Pilgrims that founded America as we know it today actually spent nearly 12 years here when they were offered refuge from religious persecution in England. It was then that Pilgrim Press was established by William Brewster, printing literature that was banned in England.
In 1620, they moved to Delfshaven in boats, launched at this very spot, where they boarded the Speedwell which took them back to England where they got on board the Mayflower. The rest, as they say, is history.
There I was, strolling down a street, taking in whatever sights caught my eye, when I saw this poem on the wall and though, "What a nice idea".
Though this piece by Yeats (A Coat) is in English, it is only one of 101 in 32 different languages.
The 'Tegen-Beeld' foundation is where the idea came from and it was sponsored by several companies and individuals.
The first poem was, somewhat surprisingly to me, a Russian affair by Marina Tsvetajeva.
39 countries are represented and the whole thing commenced in 1992 though it has drawn to a close.
So, if you're rubber necking in Leiden, you have a good excuse!
If you're desperate for more details there are actually two books with the poems and they all have Dutch translations.........which is fine, of course, if you understand Dutch. There's also a website - (http://www.muurgedichten.nl/boekjes/index.html).
This was my first encounter with the boats. I mean the old boats that became useless when superceded by larger freight carrying vessels and road transport after the war. I became progressively more fascinated with them until I reached Amsterdam and found out most of the story about them.
The fact that they were hooked up to sewerage systems, water systems and power was something I still can't get used to.
It's rather obvious that there are differing standards of ownership of the vessels. Some are immaculate while others (as shown in the next tip) less so.
These shots were taken on the Galgewater which is the body of water around the Beesten Markt.
Originally named Koornbrug (Corn Bridge) for the corn that was bought here, the bridge has since become known as the Korenbeursbrug (Corn Exchange Bridge). The roof was added in 1825 (it does rain the The Netherlands quite a bit).
You can climb up here for some good views of Leiden. It's an old fort where the Dutch defeated the Spaniards - in a nutshell! We went there when there was either a field trip or recreation period for a bunch of 4th or 5th graders with really healthy vocal chords.
At windmill de Put go right to see the Morspoort.
Leiden had originally 8 citygates, only two remain now. The Morspoort is the western citygate to Leiden. The stone gate was designed in 1669 by Willem van der Helm. It is called the Morspoort, because it led to the swampy area (moeras in dutch) outside the city.
The gate served as a prison for a long time.