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Mother of Rembrandt and wet nurse of Einstein and Descartes, Leiden is a charming city – with a capital C! Search for cheap air tickets to Leiden if you wish to see a destination of the traditional Dutch character, yet with a young heart! Elegant architecture, idyllic canals and bridges; the typical Dutch background, a great heritage and an atmosphere different from any other Dutch city. Seat of the country’s oldest university and proud of its famous alumni, Leiden has most probably found the secret to eternal youth, through its student population! Book your accommodation in Leiden and enjoy all this extraordinary destination has to offer – whatever it is you need, in Leiden you will find it!
Leiden is a small student town and a marvellous travel destination, for daytrips and for longer stays. This is a purely Dutch city, thus uniquely charming and interesting.
Leiden’s historic centre follows the typical Dutch path of canals, rivers and bridges, all of which are overshadowed, though, by the one and only University of Leiden, the oldest university in the Netherlands!
Leiden has a population of 100,000, 20,000 of which belong to Leiden’s university community!
Visit Leiden and you’ll be awarded with an experience rich in so many levels; Leiden will educate you, entertain you and captivate your heart forever!
The airport of Amsterdam (Luchthaven Schiphol) is the nearest airport to Leiden, located 30 kilometres northeast of the city centre. To get there, you can take either the train, or the buses 182 and 365.
Getting around Leiden
The easiest way to get around Leiden is walking, the most popular one is by bike, but you can also use the city’s bus network. Fares start at 2.80€ and minimum taxi fare costs 6.00€.
Your day in Leiden begins at the city’s greatest, most well-known and most valued location, the University of Leiden.
The university was founded in 1575 as a present by Willem van Oranje to the citizens of Leiden; the reason? They withheld not one, not two, but three consecutive sieges by the Spanish!
This was the first university in the Netherlands that applied the so-called freedom of speech and religion, adopting the saying “Praesidium Libertatis”. It was precisely this spirit of freedom that urged philosophers like Spinoza and Descartes to give birth to their ideas and theories.
Behind the university building, across the Rapenburg canal, you can visit the university botanical gardens – search for the “Hortus Botanicus” sign!
Hortus Botanicus was founded in 1590 to serve as a research project for the students of the university and it’s one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens. We’re sure you’ll find its tropical collections and greenhouses quite interesting! Continue to some of Leiden’s museums, two of which are not to be missed:
- he National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden), founded in 188 and boasting excellent ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman collections, as well as items spotted on excavation sites within the Netherlands.
- The Boerhaave Museum, named after physicist and biologist Herman Boerhaave. It is actually a Museum of History of Science and Medicine, owning extensive scientific collections dating back to 1600.
Next stop: Pieterskerk! St. Peter’s Church, dedicated to the patron saint of Leiden, built in the 16th century in a distinctive Gothic style. It’s widely known for its relation with the New World’s first European settlers, the so-called “Pilgrim Fathers”.
The term “Pilgrim Fathers” refers to the English Christians that chose to leave the English Church and England’s violate political regime, taking refuge in the Netherlands, in Leiden. It was there, where, led by Captain John Robinson, they later embarked on the ship that led them to Plymouth, the second English colony in the New World.
The church hosts a small exhibition focusing on the settles and houses the tombs of notable personalities, such us that of John Robinson himself.