Leiden, a city about 35 minutes by train from Amsterdam, is the second most densely populated city in the Netherlands, a student town with the oldest university in the Netherlands, and the birthplace of the painter Rembrandt.
Leiden is close to Den Haag, the city of politics, and Lisse, the city of Keukenhof Gardens which is famous for its tulips. It is also a 15 min by train from Schiphol Airport, it’s a very convenient city.
Crest of the Key to Heaven
In the city of Leiden, you can see the “Crest with two crossed keys”. This is the Leiden city emblem.
This key is modeled after the key to heaven given by Jesus, and is a same symbol of the key of the emblem in Vatican. This does not have meaning a connection with the Vatican, but it seems that it has a lot to do with the Roman Catholic Church.
The coat of arms of this key, which can be seen all over the city, is sometimes together with the lion, the symbol of Netherlands.
Try to find the various versions of the city emblem.
Leiden has a long history, and there was a village around 860.
Around the 10th century, the town was built around the castle and turned into a fortress. The topography of that time still remains today.
During the Golden Age of the 17th century, it grew to become the second largest city in the Netherlands and was developed into a more livable city. Leiden still retains a traditional Dutch landscape with canals and old houses.
The first Dutch university, Universiteit Leiden was founded in the 16th century. Universiteit Leiden is one of Europe’s leading universities, with 13 Nobel Prize winners among its alumni.
Sightseeing in Leiden
Leiden Centraal Station
Reopened in 1996, Leiden Centraal Station is a futuristic station building designed by Dutch architect Harry Reijnders.
It consists of a white wooden frame and features a curved white shell at the entrance.
Leiden Tourist Office
Tourist Office (VVV) in front of Station provides tourist information about Leiden.
It is characteristic that the letters of Leiden at the entrance are designed with the key of the city emblem.
Hours：8-18（Sat 10-16、Sun 11-15）
Address：Stationsweg 26, 2312 AV Leiden
Windmill, Molen De Valk
The windmill Molen De Valk on the east side of Leiden Central Station is a seven-story windmill built in 1743 and operated for about 220 years until 1964.
It is currently operated as a windmill museum, and you can tour the inside of the windmill.
Hours：10-17（Sun 13〜17）（Monday closed）
Address：2e Binnenvestgracht 1, 2312 BZ Leiden
URL：Molen De Valk
Windmill, Molen De Put
Leiden has another famous windmill. Windmill, Molen De Put was built in 1987 and is still in operation. Here you can buy flour milled by Molen De Put.
It is open only on Saturdays and sells freshly ground flour. (It is sometimes closed because it’s operated by volunteers.)
Address：Park de Put 11, 2312 BR Leiden
URL：Molen De Put
Castle gate, Morschpoort
Leiden was a fortress city. There are still two castle gates on the east and west sides.
The western city gate Morschpoort features a cupola (hemispherical roof) and is a national monument.
Address：Morsstraat 66, 2312 BN Leiden
In the 9th and 10th centuries, a man-made hill 20 meters high was built on top of which Leiden Castle (Burcht van Leiden) was built. Originally Leiden Castle built of wood, it was rebuilt in stone around the 13th century.
Leiden Castle is open to the public for free. Leiden Castle, which stands on a hill in the center of the old town, offers a 360-degree view of the city.
Address：Van der Sterrepad 5, 2312 EK Leiden
The city center of Leiden has a unique urban planning.
Courtyards that cannot be seen from the main street are scattered between houses. It’s like a secret alley that people can pass through but cars can’t enter. The courtyard is very quiet and has an atmosphere as if time has stopped.
This courtyard is called the Leidse Hofjes and is a recommended walking route in Leiden.
The location of Leidse Hofjes can be found on the website of the tourist information office.
Siebold is the person who brought Western medicine to Japan in the Edo period. He contributed greatly to the development of medical care in Japan.
Siebold opened the Japanese Museum in the Netherlands to display many of the collections he brought back from Japan.
The Japanmuseum SieboldHuis, which opened in 2005, exhibits the collection Siebold brought back from Japan.
Also the Leiden Botanical Garden (Hortus botanicus Leiden)grows Japanese flowers.
Address：Rapenburg 19, 2311 GE Leiden
Built in 1121, the Peter church (Pieterskerk) is the oldest church in Leiden. Peter church had a tower, but the church collapsed in 1512, and after that it was rebuilt but the tower was removed.
Since 1975, it has been managed by a foundation and hosts various events such as church concerts.
Hours：11-18 (Monday closed)
Address：Pieterskerkhof 1A, 2311 SP Leiden
Church, Hooglandse Kerk
Leiden Castle’s neighborhood Hooglandse Church (Hooglandse Kerk) has a 16th-century pipe organ and a pendulum clock invented in the 17th century.
The Peter church and the Hooglandse church have houses attached to the building. The church is a strange building that looks like an apartment, and if you go around the church you will find dozens of entrance doors. It is a church with a super rare and mysterious appearance.
Hours：Only open from May to September, from Tuesday to Saturday
Address：Nieuwstraat 20, 2312 KC Leiden
In addition, Leiden has more highlights, such as an observatory, a botanical garden, art galleries and museums.