Historical Leiden, Leiden
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.
Turn back to the windmill. Cross the bridge into the Weddesteeg.
At your left hand you will find a commerative stone in the facade. This is the place where Rembrandt was born in 1606. Ofcourse this modern house is not the house that stood here at that time.
Next street right. This is Noordeinde. Walk back to the parkinglot.
Follow the water, along the Beestenmarkt. Keep following the water, and you will find the old carpenters workshop at your right hand at the Korte Galgewater .
The old wood wharf, or carpenters workshop, is not as nice as the actual house of the city carpenter. Built in 1612 it was the house of the main carpenter of the city, the man who did all the cities official carpenters work. The crow-stepped gable and the red and white shutters for the windows makes it one of the nicest houses of Leiden. The actual workshop was next door. In 1651 Arent van 's Gravesande built a place to store corn here.
Cross the Haarlemmerstraat, keeping the church at your left hand. First street left, follw the street. Just before you see the boerhave museum on your right you encounter the remains of an old church.
In the 10th century this was a seperate village called Maredorp, after the river here. Around1300 a little chapel was built here. In 1325 a bridge connected Maredorp to Leiden. More and more citizens of Leiden came to thsi side of the river to live here. The chapel grew into a church. In 1818 the church was left by the churchpeople and turned into a ruin. Today only a small part of some walls is what is remaining of the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk, once the third church of Leiden.
Going down from the castle you walk straight up to the Heerenloogement. Then go left into the small street untill you reach the water of the Oude Rijn. Go left along the water. At the end left and then right. The Waag is at your left hand.
The front part of this building is the actual Waag (weighhouse) , behind it is the Boterhal (Butterhal, where butter was traded). The building is made out of brick, the facade is covered with natural stone. It was designed by Pieter Post in 1657, the large relief at the facade is by Rombout Verhulst. It stands on the spot where the three rivers of Leiden come together, the Old Rhine, the New Rhine and the mare. The perfect spot to trade, and to have a weighhouse.
Today concerts are held here.
Go straight into the Burgsteeg. at the end on your left hand is the gate to the castle.
The Leiden Castle (Burcht) is situated in the centre of the city. The artificial hill was constructed in the 11th century and an wooden fortification was built on top of it. Around 1150 this wooden fortification was replaced by a stone castle.
Leiden Castle was probably never used to live in and only served as a refuge for the people of Leiden. After it lost its militairy use, because the city grew too much, the castle was bought by the town council of Leiden in 1651.
Open: daily 07:00 - 23:00.
Free admission .
Go right into the Breestraat and then first left. Walk straight onto the Koornbrug (cornbridge)
This bridge dates back to 1642. But long before that it was the place were corn was traded. It is known that in the 15th century corn was traded from a bridge on this spot.
In the 19th century it was decided to built a shelter over the bridge to protect the goods. It is a design of Salomon van der Pauw in 1825.
Cross the Langebrug and go straight into the Wolsteeg you will end up in the Breestraat, right in front of you is the huge Cityhall.
Cityhall has a long history. In the early days it was a place for the government, but also for the church. In the middleages it was also used as a tradehouse for cloth and meat.
After Leids Ontzet (1574) (see general tips for more info on the most important year in Leidens history) the government decided that the wealth of Leiden had to be seen in cityhall. They gave architect Lieven de Key the assignment to design a new facade in 1595. In 1929 cityhall burnt down. The facade in the Breestraat was restored but the rest of the building is new, designed by C.J. Blaauw; building started in 1937.
When you walk onto the Langebrug do look back. You just passed under the Gekroonde Liefdepoort. This gate was (and is) the entrance to houses for ages. Once the famous painter Jan Steen lived and worked here. The gate is nothing special, and the houses behind it are modern. But from the historical point of view you have to know Jan Steen passed under this gate from 1626 to 1679.
The next right, PietersKerkstraat. Pass the church and go into the far corner. Behind the tree you will find the entrance to the Pieter Gerritz. Spekhofje. Through this complex of almshouses we keep left to end up in the Langebrug.
The almshouses were built by Pieter Gerritsz Spek in 1645. He built it during his live and in his will he arranged that money was set aside to maintain it. It is the only complex of almshouses in Leiden that is painted white.
Turn left into the street next to the Gravensteen. Next street right. On the corner of the Lokhorststraat is the Latin School. (Do look into the window)
The Latin School was built in 1599 by Lieven de Key. The lessons were given in Latin. This was the school were Rembrandt went to from the age of 7 until 14 years of age. It was used as a school until 1864. Today it is a museum.
Cross the square in front of the church. Right in front of you is the Gravensteen.
This was the castle of the Counts of Holland. Built in the 13th century it also housed their personal jail. In 1329 the Counts left Leiden and the Gravensteen was used as a courhouse and jail for centuries after that.
One of the most awfull stories about this jail is about Arie Cornelisz. in 1709. He was caught on suspision of stealing. He was questioned several timnes and confessed several crimes, like breaking in and stealing and robbing people. Sitting in his cel he became frightened for his punishment and decided to commit suicide. This made him a murderer (on his own body) too. And the judge decided to punish him for that. His body was put on the gallowsfield, outside the city, to be eaten by the birds.
Continue through the Doelensteeg untill the canal. This is the Rapenburg.
The Rapenburg is one of the most pretty streets of Leiden. The canal was dug out around 1250 as a moat to protect the city. It is an important street since in the golden age the rich people built their houses along the canal. This street is a reminder of the important city Leiden once was.
This street is also the location of one of the largest disasters in the history of Holland. A ship filled with gunpowder exploded here 12 january 1807 . Distroying many houses and killing 151 people.
Today it is just a nice street to walk along and enjoy the beautifull facades. In the summer you can row along the canal.
At the end of the Varkenmarkt you cross the Groenhazengracht.
In the 17th century this area was the red light district of Leiden. In this house on the corner worked a prostitute nicknamed: het groene haasje (the green hare). The entire street is now named after her. No red light district anymore, but some increadible houses are found here along the canal.