Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lovely Leiden

It was love at first sight. I was last Saturday in Leiden and I was left speechless by its beauty. Leiden is a city of superlatives with the oldest university of the Netherlands, one of the prettiest town halls in the country, probably the most beautifully ornated church interior and home to the Netherlands' greatest painter of all time, Rembrandt. As soon as I got on the train back I texted Boyfriend to tell him that Leiden was so lovely that we would have to visit it if we ever come back to the Netherlands.


I had been reading about Leiden in the train and I had sketched an itinerary with all the sights I wanted to see. However, as soon as I started to walk towards the city centre I found it really difficult to stick to it as there was always something that would catch my attention at the most unexpected places. An impressive building here, a charming canal there or a lovely corner over there, Leiden seemed to be made of first-class daytrip material. I let myself go and just wandered aimlessly along many a street with a canal on its side, I was wowed by more houses than ever in the Netherlands and eventually realized that I had a big crush on Leiden.

It was drizzling and chilly when I arrived in Leiden so I started my day by seeking shelter in a windmill. Yes, the first thing I did was visiting a windmill dating from the 18th century. By the time I went out again the sun was beginning to shine shyly and I headed to the city centre. But as I said, I was quite unable to focus on my itinerary and I suddenly found myself staring at another windmill. Later I passed by the Morsch Poort, a surviving gate from the old city walls and followed the canals grid to the centre. Leiden was really animated, with many people enjoying some retail therapy in the shops of Haarlemmerstraat. There was a street market in the parallel street where you could buy almost anything, from clothes and textiles to exotic spices and raw herrings. It was also crowded, just like every terrace and café around. Nearby was yet another street with more than a handful of beautifully ornated buildings, among them the town hall. Walking away from the busy city centre there were many other sights to enjoy and I especially liked the Pieterskerk (St Peter's Church) with its outstanding interior. I missed a history lesson at the American Pilgrim Museum and I forgot to take a look at the old city citadel but hopefully there'll be a second time in Leiden to catch up where I left!









7 comments:

  1. That's it. This weekend I am writing a list of Dutch cities to visit and Leiden is going on it... Can't wait to get exploring in this small but oh so rich country :-)

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  2. hi Irene!!!
    sorry for not passing by often as I would love... been very busy and as you know motherhood ;)
    I'm glad to know that you're now making new adventure of your life... you'll see its a wonderful thing and I really wish you to have a bigger family ;)
    this is a great place a you just wrote a beautiful post!!! take care and have a lovely day!
    xoxo,Meg of Sweet Gala's

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    1. Hey Meg, no need to be sorry at all! There are many things in life that come before blogging ;)
      I hope you're having a wonderful summer with your husband and baby! Have a lovely day you too!

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  3. Irene, Leiden is dreamy!!! You travel to the best places. The buildings there are absolutely gorgeous. There seems to be beautiful things nestled in every possible corner, but it's not overwhelming. What a treat for the eyes!
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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    1. I thought the same, it was a wonderful treat for my eyes and that's why I probably was paying more attention to the architecture than to taking pictures :)

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  4. Visiting Rembrandt's hometown is enough reason to head there. Wow, the architecture is impressive.

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    1. I agree with you. Architectural sights are always high on my list and the Netherlands has a couple of great cities to enjoy architectural wonders both present and past :)

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