This bridge, across the New Rhine, adjacent to the Stadhuis, was built in 1642 and was the site of the corn market (hence the name). It was substantially redeveloped in 1825 by the city architect Salomon van der Paauw with the addition of a pair of colonnaded covered marketplaces, decorated by the city's crossed keys.
The marketplaces are now designated, respectively, for fish and butter (Vismarkt and Botermarkt).
Leiden's Beestenmarkt was formerly the city's live animal market where sheep, cattle and pigs would be brought in by boat. By all accounts this was a busy marketplace and so the triangular area became lined with cafes and bars.
Its use as a live animal market dwindled in the latter half of the 19th century but the pubs and cafes remained and its modern incarnation is as a central meeting place, a daytripper berth for visiting boats and a starting location for some of the larger boat tours. Rather incongruously you'll find the old market bell hung in an alley between an Indian and a Chinese restaurant (pic #3).
This is where I found my friendly little cafe for my morning coffee and cigarette(s).
Leiden seem to have market for everything. The old names are kept as they were many years ago. There's a cheese market, prok market, and the biggest one "Beestenmarkt" the place where animals were traded.
Leiden is the city of students and the market place hosts many performances by different artists. Around the market you can see many cafes and restaurants, and of course there are canals and ships, as everywhere in Leiden.
Until halfway the last century animals were traded here. Hence the name Besstenmarkt (animal market). The whole area around is filled with bars and restaurants. Apparently that was also the case at the time when it still had this market function. Deals were drunk on in a bar. To seal the deal...