Learn more about the history of Leiden and discover everything there is to do

Leiden, City of Discoveries

Leiden is an authentic Dutch city with a rich and long history (from the Iron Age and the Romans) and has an equally rich tradition when it comes to knowledge, science, culture and international relations. A city with beautiful canals, almost three thousand monuments, twelve renowned museums and a vibrant city centre. You can also organise a spectacular city tour and / or cruise through us.

A rich past

Walk through Leiden and the city’s rich past comes back to life. The 16th century academy building of Leiden University, the Weigh House designed by Pieter Post, the 12th century Burcht, the 13th century Gravensteen (where the Dukes of Holland once resided), the stately townhouses along the famous Rapenburg, the Prinsenhof (where William of Orange and Maurice of Orange used to stay), the old city gates, the beautiful churches of Pieterskerk and Hooglandse Kerk, and the city’s 35 courtyards tell the history of Leiden.

Famous residents of Leiden

Rembrandt was born here and he also learned the art of painting in Leiden, the same goes for Jan Steen, Jan van Goyen, Lucas and Jan van Leyden. The physician Boerhaave taught here (in the Boerhaave halls that currently constitute the Boerhaave Museum), and four hundred years ago Clusius brought the first Dutch tulips to flower in the Hortus Botanicus of the university; founded by William of Orange this is the oldest university in the Netherlands. You’ll most certainly agree that Leiden may truly call itself the City of Discoveries.

Events in Leiden

The Lakenfeesten, 3 October Festival, the Leiden Cabaret Festival, the Leidse Waterdagen, the Rapenburg Concert, the Open Monumentendagen, the Leiden Film Festival, the Rembrandt Festival and much more. Leiden may be a small and picturesque city, but its festivals are known worldwide. Leiden is the key to Europe and the key to your European holiday. For more information about local events in Leiden, please contact the reception of our hotel.

Churches in Leiden

There are many historical churches in Leiden. From small clandestine churches in homes to the immense Hooglandse Kerk and the impressive Pieterskerk. There is also a guided walking tour past Leiden’s churches. More information can be obtained at the reception of our hotel.

Windmills in Leiden

Unique to Leiden is the number of windmills within the city’s boundaries. There are nine windmills in Leiden, several of which are open to the public.

Close to Best Western City Hotel Leiden is the “Molen de Valk”, now transformed into Leiden’s windmill museum. De Valk is a grain mill from 1743. All seven floors of this national windmill museum are open to visitors. For more info and opening times:

De Houtzaagmolen de Heesterboom, Haagweg 57, tel: 071-5611236. Open: Mon 10:00 -16:00 and by appointment. The windmill is one of the top monuments in the Netherlands, and is situated within a few minutes’ walk of our hotel in the centre of Leiden.

Molen de Put, Galgewater, by the Rembrandtbrug, tel. 071-5120279. Open: Mon 11:00 – 18:00, Sun 14:00 – 18:00. A miller is usually present on Saturdays, and grain is also still regularly ground here. A special city walking tour will take you past Leiden’s nine windmills. More information can be obtained at the reception of our hotel.

City of Water

Leiden, like Amsterdam, holds most of its water flow within its city gates. The historic city of Leiden has a total of 28 miles of ditches and canals. Bridges are needed to navigate the canals, and the city of Leiden has no less than 88 bridges! Many package tours are available to marvel at these canals, but you can also hire a boat and explore the city of Leiden yourself.