At around the year 1000 CE, a hill was created between the two branches of the Rhine. This place was used to protect people from high water levels and also from other dangers. A stronghold was built soon after. Because of this, the settlement in Leiden became permanent and a village developed. It took the name Leithon which slowly evolved to Leiden and this village became a city. This Burch is basically a brick wall that loops around in a circle and you can walk over the watch path which is on top. The point of it?? You get a great view of the city which makes it all worthwhile.
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden or National Museum of Antiquities.
Like I said before, my main reason for visiting Leiden was to see this museum. It has got collections from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Mesopotamia. It also has a Dutch archaeology section which features artifacts from as far back as 250,000 years ago.
This is not a super huge museum but it does have an impressive collection. I saw a piece of the Rosetta Stone that they had on display and I was completely in awe of it. This is something that I've read about and I know how significant it is but I didn't know that this museum had a piece. I don't know if this was a permanent exhibition but I hope that people get a chance to see it. This museum also features an Egyptian temple which is one of 3 temples that are outside of Egypt. It was a gift from Egypt as a thank you for archaeological investigations over by the Aswan-dam.
I wish now that I could get a chance to go back and look at everything again. In my ancient history and art history courses we're discussing the various works of art from the ancient world. When I was there a few months ago I didn't know what a lot of stuff was and I didn't understand its significance. Now that I do know that I want to go back and appreciate them for what they are and for what they represent.
Hofjes are pretty much exclusively Dutch. Around the 17th century, these types of places were set up by wealthy church officials. They were intended for the elderly and the poor and they received free accomodation, food, and clothing. The church officials hoped to get a place in heaven by doing this. Leiden has 35 of these hofjes and while I was there I was looking at a book which had a walking tour of all the hofjes. I saw a lot of them but not all. To reach one of these hofjes you have to go through a sort of passageway from the street. These places are very quiet and very peaceful which is why a lot of people choose to live there. I was amazed to go from the noise of the city into one of these hofjes and to just experience the calmness and the quiet. There are signs asking visitors to please respect the privacy of the residents and not make a lot of noise.
I cannot give an exact location for this. My uncle pointed it out to me because it has an interesting story. Basically, it used to be a church but it's been reduced down to just a few bricks. You can't even tell it used to be a church or any building really. But apparently the story on this is that this was the church of the Pilgrim Fathers that sailed to America. Why the insistence on keeping this pile of bricks and not cleaning the place up? It's rumoured that one of these Pilgrim Fathers was an ancestor to America's very own president, George Bush, and he may have something to do with the fact that these bricks are still there. Honestly, had it not been pointed out to me I would have completely missed this. They're just a few bricks, that's all. Somebody's got to be pulling strings here.
If you're a fan of art you're obviously familiar with Leiden as the place where the famous Rembrandt Van Rijn was born. The house in which he was born, however, doesn't exactly exist anymore. Again, I do not remember the address of this location but I'm sure if you ask someone they'll know. Although new houses have been built over this spot, there is a sign up saying that it was on that exact spot where Rembrandt was born. Not for everyone, but I found it interesting.
Walking down the first few hundred meters of the main street led me to two basic conclusions; 1. This is a university town (though I already knew that) and 2. Lots of people ride bikes.
We didn't get a chance to do this, but we saw several people renting these canoes and touring the city through the canals. It looked like a lot of fun. Ask around or ask the VVV.
Almshouses are a form of Lower-Income Housing and the dwellings are usually around a courtyard. There are many of these in Leiden. I'm pretty sure this is called Jean Pesynhof.
I could be wrong.
Entry to a former primary school. Gereformeerd is a school of a certain protestant belief. There used to be many school like this in this segregated country.
The following 5 photo's are of Hooglandsekerkgracht, a street that leads up to the Hooglandse Kerk (church). It has its own chic, this street. Leafy trees and tall houses.
The plan was to go to the Hooglandse church and so we turned right onto Oude Rijn again but not before I made this delightful photo on Herengracht.
We turned back after a lovely lunch (see Restaurant tips) and turned left onto Herengracht where I made this photo of the Oude Rijn again.
That's where I lived, above the Italian restaurant Porto Pino (although I can't remember if it was there when I lived there in 1982/1983).
At the right you can just make out the Zijlpoort.
Before we turned left onto Pelikaanstraat to go back along Haarlemmerstraat, I looked back and took a general photo of the Oude Rijn.
You'll find info on shopping in the Haarlemmerstraat in my Shopping Tips.
We walked down the whole length of it towards my later home when I returned to live in Leiden in 1982.
Typical holiday inn hotel...very americanised surroundings. Decent buffet breakfast and dinner....more
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