Leiden, in English sometimes Leyden or Leyde, is much older than Amsterdam. In the Middle Ages, Leiden was an important place with its castle and the residence of the counts of Holland. While in the 17th century it was the second largest city of the
Dutch Republic, after Amsterdam.
That Leiden got into a deep economic recession from the 18th until the 20th century was of course tragic for the city and the people. But as a side effect, the old centre never really modernized like Amsterdam. Large parts within the 17th century city ramparts remained fairly intact.
However, Leiden is by no means a sleepy town where time stood still. The grand old university has a distinct imprint on the town, and some of the finest museums of the Netherlands are located here.
And last but not least : Leiden is a surprisingly GREEN city. Parks, ramparts, the famous botanical gardens. Plus all these "hofjes", concealed little courtyards and gardens hidden behind a gate.
Leiden is not as famous as Amsterdam. So it attracts far fewer visitors.
That's a pity, and a blessing. Because generally, you don't see tourist crowds here.
As Bill Kemp from Texas noted :
"The city (Leiden) is so ancient that many of the sights were difficult to locate on the narrow streets and alleys, which were laid out in a haphazard manner. It would have taken us a lot of time to figure out the layout of the city, but Edmond was able to lead us efficiently from one sight to another." click on text in red for the full article Bill wrote in International Travel News.
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Where we start.
Most people will have accommodation in or around Amsterdam. In that case meeting at Amsterdam central station is an option. We'll make the 1/2 hour train ride together, and use this time to prepare your personalized walk. If you want, I can arrange train tickets for you.
We can of course also meet in Leiden.
The city map below dates early 17th century. About when Rembrandt was born.
He grew up and started as a painter here, in Leiden.
See Rembrandt walk.
The location of the train station would be just above the little red lion on a yellow field, the coat of arms of Holland. So, from the station you walk indeed right into the old centre.
For the general outline and purpose of my walks, please see main page History & heritage walks.
For a truly special experience : Leiden evening walk.
More history backgrounds of Leiden in the resources section.
More pictures of Leiden on page Leiden Photo.
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