There are many lovely cities in the Netherlands… If only I had the time to visit them all! But given enough time, I’m sure I’ll have the chance. One of these days I visited Leiden, the birth place of Rembrandt.
Leiden is located on the Old Rhine, about 40 kilometers south of Amsterdam, and can be reached easily by train from Central Station (the ride takes around 30 minutes). It is a city with a long and interesting history, a Spanish siege being one of the most important events from its past, with influences in present day city life — the end of this siege is celebrated on 3 October by an annual parade, a day off and a traditional fair. But perhaps the most impressive event from Leiden’s history is the writing of the Constitution of the Netherlands, which was drafted by Johan Rudolf Thoebecke in 1848 in his house at Garenmarkt 9.
The city played an important role in the country’s industry and was (still is) an important trade center for communities. It houses the Leiden University, an important research center, the Eurotransplant and the headquarters of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V. Taking all these into consideration it doesn’t look that “industrial” at all — it’s a nice typical Dutch city, less crowded than Amsterdam but still full of life, that has a lot to offer.
There are plenty of museums and monuments that can be visited, and actually the entire downtown area is a historic monument where you can just walk from one site to another. If one is not in the mood for visiting museums or monuments, taking a walk represents a good opportunity to admire the canals and houses. A good recommendation would be to see De Burcht, or the “Citadel”, which is the oldest part of the city — a medieval fortress, located on top of a hill (a man-made hill or the so-called “motte“) where one is greeted to a beautiful view over the city. The visit can then be completed with a good beer on one of the lovely terraces that are waiting along the canals, watching a Dutch sunset 🙂