Historical Leiden

In Leiden you can take a walk surrounded by 800 years of visible history. The City of Discoveries is home to the oldest university of the Netherlands. In addition the city is famous for its rich history and old city centre, with its canals, city gates, bridges, windmills, a castle, an observatory, the botanical gardens, weavers’ homes, almshouses, two large late gothic churches and several historical edifices.

Treasure hunt through the centuries

Stroll along the canals and on the narrow streets of the old city centre and allow history to come alive through the stories told by a guide or actor. Tread in the footsteps of Rembrandt and get to know his Leiden or discover the pillars of medical history of the Netherlands in the Hortus botanicus, the Academy building, the workplaces of Professor Boerhaave and an anatomic theatre from the 16th century.

Spread across the city centre, 35 almshouses are waiting to be discovered, seemingly frozen in time. Enter these almshouses, a collection of small dwellings built around a communal garden, often walled and accessible only by 1 or 2 access ways. Find these idyllic spots or follow experienced tour guides who can tell you all about the special customs in these courtyard communities.

Discover what Marilyn Monroe and President Obama have in common and get acquainted with the history of the Pilgrim Fathers in Leiden. The Pilgrim Fathers were refugees from England who were persecuted for their faith around 1600. They chose the city of Leiden, an affluent city famous for its tolerant environment and freedom of religion. But why did they eventually leave Leiden after all, receiving official permission from the British crown to settle in the New World?

On foot or by boat, by bicycle or accompanied by an experienced city guide, you will get a lovely view of this historical city dating back centuries!