Keys to the City of Heaven
Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
60Trip End Aug 21, 2011
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Leiden is a wonderful “little” town in Zuid-Holland (South Holland) that really isn’t that little, with over 100,000 people in the city limits and over 330,000 in the metro area. Leiden is most known for Leiden University that was founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange. Leiden is encircled by a canal with many smaller canals running through it. The canals carry the water of the Old Rhine which is part of the delta of the famous Rhine. Leiden, for the most part, remains classically Dutch. Almost all the homes in “downtown” Leiden are under 4 stories and centuries old. Of course, the homes along the canals are the most beautiful and well preserved. There are some larger more modern structures outside the ring canal towards the University though
The town was covered with many inches of snow by the time I had arrived because of the blizzard that had happened the day before, but that wasn’t going to slow down our sight seeing. We decided that we would follow the Leidse Loper trail that runs through the city to see all the important sights.
A project began in 1992 to cover the walls of Leiden with poems. These poems are in every language imaginable and all over the city, on houses or restaurants, some in sight and others are hidden. The project concluded in 2005 when the 101st poem was completed.
The Leidse Loper led us past many of Leiden’s best sights. We walked to the old Morspoort, or west gate, of Leiden. Only two of the original gates of Leiden remain, and almost none of its old city walls remain. Of course, we past some classically Dutch windmills. We also saw the former spot of Rembrandt’s childhood home in Leiden, though the original house no longer stands. We were also able to visit Pieterskerk (or, St. Peter’s Church in English) which was completed in the 16th century. Since the 1970’s, it has been essentially an event venue for concerts
Another large church we passed is the Hooglandse Kerk, built in the 15th century. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to step inside so we moved on to De Burcht (The Castle), a fort in the center of Leiden. The fort sits on top of a manmade hill and was built in the 12th century. In the past, you could see all the city gates of Leiden, but today it offers a 360 degree view of the modern town from one of the highest points around.
After a long day of sightseeing, we headed back to the house to defrost and prepare for another day of sightseeing tomorrow!