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Sightseeing in Leiden - what to see. Complete travel guide

Mesmerizing Leiden is the homeland of many great artists and winners of the Nobel Prize. In modern times, this city in the Netherlands has turned into an important tourist destination, and there is a reason for such popularity. This gorgeous settlement has a rich past that is like a magnet for guests. Leiden shares its interesting history with every guest and gladly uncovers the historical and cultural heritage of the region. The Leiden University, which is famous on the country level, beautiful old buildings and waterfronts – all of them are eager to tell you the history of the region and explain why this city inspired so many genius people and encouraged them to create their masterpieces.
The first mention of Leiden in the annals dates back to 922. At that time, this region belonged to the Bishop of Utrecht. The first castle in the area appeared in the 12th century. Steadily, the area around the castle became a popular marketplace. When the Hundred Years' War started, many weavers from Ypres found shelter in Leiden. This event gave a major boost to the development of the weaving industry in the Dutch city. In 1581, the Elzevirs, a famous Dutch family of booksellers, settled and started working in Leiden.
During the Eighty Years’ War, starting from spring and until autumn 1574, the Spanish occupied Leiden. In order to defeat the invaders, local people, who were suffering from hunger, had to cut the dikes and flood their home city. The Spanish left Leiden. Ships with provisions could enter the settlement and save people from starvation death. The courage of local people impressed William I of Orange so much that he offered people to free them from taxes or establish a university in Leiden. Local people made their choice in favor of the university. This is how the first university opened in Leiden in the 17th century. Copyright
Would you like to see the oldest castle in the Netherlands? For this purpose, don’t forget to visit the Burcht van Leiden, a beautiful and old fortification that is still in good condition. The castle is built on a picturesque hill, in the place where two tributaries of the Rhine River meet. The Burcht van Leiden was built in the 11th century. After a series of excavations, archaeologists proved that the castle was wooden initially. Later, it was decided to strengthen the building with stones. With time, the territory of Burcht van Leiden was growing, and the castle got new walls. In the end, the wooden construction turned into a stone stronghold.
Upon your arrival in Leiden, you will immediately notice this beautiful castle that stands on a twelve-meter-tall hill. It looks like it is floating in the air above the city. The medieval stronghold was restored several times, so visitors can see its upgraded walls at the moment. Moreover, the latest restoration, which happened in 2010, added one more new element – the rain protection system. This protection will help to save the gorgeous building for many decades. The government maintains the historic attraction and renovates the castle every forty-five to fifty years.
There are many old castles in Leiden and its vicinities. Tourists enjoy visiting Gravensteen, a fabulous building constructed in the 13th century. The purpose of the building changed several times over the centuries. Initially, the castle was a residence of the nobles and rulers of the region. However, the Duke of Burgundy ordered to turn Gravensteen into a prison in 1463. People accused of serious crimes and condemned to death served their sentences in this prison. Gravensteen accepted prisoners from all cities in the Netherlands and even some German cities.
There was a square opposite the castle. Prisoners condemned to death were executed right on this square. The last prisoner was executed here in 1856. After that, Gravensteen was a simple prison where people were kept for a specific period of time. Starting from the end of the 16th century, a correctional facility was open in the castle. Gravensteen was transformed into a book warehouse in the mid-50s of the 20th century. Starting from 2006, a student facility has been open in this building.
The easiest way to get to Leiden is to travel by train. It takes only fifteen minutes to reach this city from the neighbor city, The Hague. The journey from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a bit longer – up to half an hour. If you decide to travel from Amsterdam, the ride will be almost forty minutes. All trains, regardless of their dispatching point, make a stop at the central station in Leiden. This station is situated five hundred meters from the old part of the city. Tourists can reach it by public bus, taxi or simply walk.

City tours, excursions and tickets in Leiden and surroundings

Reference information
Map of all castles
Survived castles around Leiden
♥   Castle 'Burcht van Leiden' , 0.3 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Duivenvoorde Castle' , 7.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Slot Teylingen' , 8 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Huys Dever' , 10.5 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Castle 'Slot Heemstede' , 22 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all parks
National and city parks around Leiden
♥   National Park 'Zuid-Kennemerland' , 28.9 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   National Park 'De Biesbosch' , 49 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   National Park 'Utrechtse Heuvelrug' , 60.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   National Park 'De Loonse en Drunense Duinen' , 71.1 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   National Park 'Oosterschelde' , 73.8 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all art museums
Art galleries in Leiden and around
♥   Art museum 'Rijksmuseum van Oudheden' Leiden, 0.8 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Mauritshuis' The Hague, 15.3 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Museum Bredius' The Hague, 15.4 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Gemeentemuseum' The Hague, 16.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Art museum 'Frans Hals Museum' Haarlem, 25.8 km from the center. On the map   Photo

Sights around Leiden from our guide 'Extreme places on Earth'


From the series “The Most Unusual and Strange Bridges on Earth”
The color of the bridge was chosen by chance and has no particular symbolic character. Within a few years 'Python' Bridge became a must for many excursion programs through Amsterdam and attracts not only the curious tourists, but also the construction workers from different countries. Like the other bridges of Holland, 'Python' is very solid and secure. Only high-strength steel was used during the construction of the bridge … Read further

Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum

From the series “Strange, Weird and Unusual Museums Amusing its Visitors”
Some museum rooms are dedicated to breeding the exhibits - here the various hemp varieties cultivated by the museum staff grow. Since 2003, the large and constantly updated collection of exhibits has been located in the new building, not far from Dam Square. Today, the museum's guests can see more than 6,000 unique exhibits. Although the theme of the museum is quite contradictory and controversial, the numerous tourists have been receiving it for several years. It must be borne in mind that the children under 13 years of age can visit the museum of marijuana free of charge, but only accompanied by adults. … Read further

Sauna Deco

From the series “Most Extraordinary Thermaes, Baths and Saunas in the World”
In the 1970s, the department store, which was known for its exquisite interior design, was renovated. After the renovation, most decor elements were abolished. These magnificent decor elements of the historical department store were brought into the sauna of Amsterdam. Today its visitors can go to the pool on a unique wooden staircase, over which several decades ago Parisians went shopping. Tourists who decide to visit the most famous and popular sauna in the Netherlands, should observe an important rule - wearing a bathing suit in sauna is strictly prohibited … Read further
Car rental on Rentals in Leiden

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Sightseeing in regions nearby Leiden

All about Leiden, Netherlands - sightseeings, attractions, touristic spots, architecture, history, culture and cuisine. Prepare your trip together with - find out the 'must see' things in Leiden, which places to visit, which excursions to take, where the breathtaking views are waiting for you. Planning your trip with this travel guide will help your to get the most out of Leiden in few days. - online travel reservation expert providing reliable car rental and hotel booking services. We feature more than 25.000 destinations with 12.000 rental offices and 200.000 hotels worldwide.
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