With over 2700 monuments crammed within it’s compact city centre, Leiden is – ehm – laden with things to see. Ranging from churches, to windmills to Almshouses, there are plenty of pictures opportunities as you wend your way through the city streets. Here’s a small selection of Leiden monuments for you to discover.
Lying on the banks of the Rhine, Leiden’s town hall (Stadhuis) boasts an old renaissance facade dating back to 1597 and is perhaps the city’s most characteristic building. A fire destroyed large parts of this monument in 1929, which explains the newer building lying behind the facade.
Het Gravensteen or ‘the Count’s Stone’, was a reinforced stone tower on the local count’s estate. Today it is part of the university of Leiden, but over the centuries it has serviced as a prison, a community home and a book depository.
Harking back to Leiden’s Golden Age, De Waag or the ‘weigh house’ opened its doors in 1659. The weigh house. For centuries, this is great example of Dutch Classicism was where merchants came to weigh and trade all sorts of goods. Gradually, business practices changed and the last cheese was sold in 1972.
Named after St. Peter, the patron saint of Leiden, this church was founded in 1121 and is mainly constructed in late-Gothic style. The Pieterskerk is associated with the Pilgrim Fathers, whose leader John Robinson, lived in the nearby Pieterskerkchoorsteeg (marked with a plaque). John Robinson is buried here, as are the physician Herman Boerhave and the painter Jan Steen (of Rijksmuseum fame). The church itself features a small exhibition on the Pilgrims in Leiden.
De Burcht, Leiden
Dating back to at least the middle ages, De Burcht is one of the oldest surviving examples of a ‘motte’ castle in the Netherlands. This citadel is freely accessible to the public and after conquering the steep stairs visitors are rewarded with magnificent views of Leiden.
Dedicated to St Pancras, Leiden’s Hooglandse Kerk or ‘Highland church’ is an imposing, late Gothic cathedral in the heart of Leiden. Justinus van Nassau, illegitimate child of William of Orange is laid to rest in a tombstone in the church. The church is known for its elegance.
St. Anna Aalmoeshuis
Founded in 1492, this is one of the oldest almshouses in Leiden. Not to be missed is the small chapel, which was consecrated in 1509. The chapel features the oldest stained glass in the Netherlands and the furnishings are striking.