This is what you can read at the entrance:
The Burcht is built on a man-made mound, created between 800 and 1150, probably to protect people from floots. Strategically situated on the confluence of the Old and the New Rhine a wooden battlement was erected, to be replaced by a brick ringwall around 1150. There's hardly been any fighting in or around the Burcht. Already in the 14th century the mound was surrounded by houses.
Up to the 17th century the Burcht was owned by viscounts. In 1651 the city bought the complex. The coats of arms seen on both the gate and the fence are from the mayors of Leiden. At the foot of the hill a city inn and stables were built. From 1693 till 1878 a structure of cellars, resevoirs and intricate plumbing led water from the foot of the hill to the top, from where it was led to the fountain opposite the City Hall.
I can add that although it is quite high (for Dutch standards), you won't be able to see it from the street as the buildings completely cover it, so it can be easy to miss.
The view is nice, although it is not high enough and surrounded by buildings, so it is a bit limited.
In any case, it is worth a visit. In the summer you can just sit on the grass around the walls and enjoy the usually beautiful summer evenings.
Built in 1595, the building was destroyed in a fire in 1929 and was reconstructed (the facade survived and is still the original one). It is one of the nicest buildings in Leiden.
Every year there is an "Open monument day" (http://www.openmonumentendag.nl/) in which you can visit many monuments and historical houses that would otherwise be closed.
On that day you are able to visit certain areas of the City Hall that are usually not accessible, such as the Mayor's office that has a very nice wooden panel with a map of Leiden with birds, made by Escher (you will understand the bird part if you know his work). It is very nice, colour-coded, so you can see when each area of Leiden was developed.
One of the originally 10 city gates to Leiden. It was build in 1668 and one of the 2 remaining city gates. It used to be called Gallows Gate since its road lead the the gallow field but it was renamed shortly after to Morspoort because of the nearby marshes.
There are still 2 roads called Galgewater (Gallow's water) on each side of a canal.
The area around the Green Hare Canal used to be the red light district of Leiden in the 17th century. In the house on the picture lived a prostitute called the green hare. Not sure whether the canal got its name from her or if it was the other way around.
Until well into the 20th century, Dutch society was split up according to religion. 'Compartementalised along socio-political lines', so my dictionary tells me. The Dutch term was 'verzuiling'.
This Roman Catholic district nursing service is an example. Later on we'll also find a reformed church primary school.
The 4th regiment infantry was stationed here at the Morspoortkazerne between 1860 and 1940.
The wars in which they fought are named here on this plaque on the barrack next to the Morspoort.
Tiendaagse Veldtocht 1831
Island of Dordrecht 1940
West-Java (Indonesia) 1946-1948
At the end of the 2e Binnenvest we turned left long the water at windmill De Put (not crossing the bridge to the house where Rembrandt was born in the Weddesteeg).
This is called Galgewater (Gallow Water), reminiscent of the gallows here as mentioned in my Morspoort tip.
The nice restaurant I knew there to be at Zijlpoort was beckoning. As long as I've known it, cars cannot pass through this gate but cyclists and pedestrians can.
Left of the gate is a graveyard with a lovely little chapel. On the other side, boats and yachts enter Leiden through a drawbridge.
Strangely enough, the Zijlpoort is not included in the Leiden citywalks. So I had to resort to the website of the restaurant Poort van Leyden, to find out a little more about this one of two remaining city gates.
Continued in next tip...
The building of it started on April 9 1667.
The foundation plan is rather unusual because the gate had to fit the city wall but also the direction of the bridge. That's why it isn't quite straight, something that also comes back in the belfry.
Willem van Helm, Leiden architect, was the designer who liked Dutch classicism. Rombout Verhulst was responsible for the sculpturing. He was very famous in his time.
Even though it was a military defensework, there never was a siege there. The 'Poortwachters' room soon found another destination: it served as a club for poets and artists that misbehaved so badly that they were evicted and a school for the poor was put there until 1760.
The Zijlpoort degenerated and was restored in 1981 (one year before I came to live here).
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
This house is also on Kort Galgewater and I can't find any mention of it but it looks just grand. The door was open and I peeped inside: people live there and it looked oldfashionedly Dutch. I didn't dare make a photo through the door though.
The house belongs to the old municipal construction site where the carpenters, stone-cutters and blacksmiths lived and worked.
The house dating back to 1612 is recently renovated and is still in use as a family living... So i just stood there and dreamt of living in such a house for a while...
Leiden has 35 almshouses dating back the 17th century. Some oif them can still be visited today. Some aren't open to the public, the residents prefering their privacy. The Sion Almshouse is one that can be visit. It is a very small almshouse but it is fun to take a peek inside...
THis alsmhouse was build for elderly married couples. But if their husband died the widows had to leave. For them another alsmhouse (the small sion almshouse) was build.
At the end of the Oude Varkenmarkt, on the corner with the Groenhazengracht we see the Doelenpoort. The entrance gate to the St Jorisdoelen, built in 1645. This was the practice grounds for the Schutterij. The Schutterij was a sort of city army, in which every man between 18 and 60 had to serve. They protected Leiden, stopped uproars in the city and supplied soldiers for the army of Holland. Rembrandts father did serve in the Schutterij until he got wounded when a granate exploded. After that he bought his way out by paying money to the Schutterij until his son could serve. Rembrandt himself got exemption because he was registerred at the university.
At the top of the gate you see St Joris (George) and the dragon. St George being the patron saint of the marksmen.
Go under the Doelenpoort into the Doelengracht. At the other side of the water you will see some nice facades. Nr 7 is the side entrance to the Eva van Hoogeveenshofje, above it is the regentsroom. The maingate though is in the Doelensteeg, the next street left. Also at nr 7, you will find the entrance gate dating back to 1659. Although the almshouses were built in 1654 after Eva, a rich unmarried lady, died.
Above the entrance gate it says in Latin that the nobel and chaste virgin Eva van Hoogeveen founded the almshouses in 1650. In the family coat oof arms you will see a lamb. This lamb can also be found on the waterpump inside at the courtyard.