A 13th-century citadel, De Burcht, still stands on a mound of land in the town center between two branches of the Rhine, Oude and Nieuwe, providing a great view of the rooftops around.
Leiden & Rembrandt
In 1606, the great artist Rembrandt van Rijn was born in Leiden. He later moved to Amsterdam, where he won fame and fortune -- and later suffered bankruptcy and obscurity. In his hometown, a Rembrandt Walk takes in the site of the house (since demolished) where he was born, the Latin School he attended as a boy, and the first studio where he worked. A descriptive booklet is available from VVV Leiden for 2.95€.
Walking in Fathers' Footsteps
To touch base with the Pilgrims, who lived in Leiden between 1609 and 1620, walk to the places they would have frequented back in the day, starting with Lodewijkskerk (Louis Church), which was used as a meeting place by the cloth guild. William Bradford, who became the governor of New Plymouth, was a member of this guild. Next, head to the Groenehuis (Green House) on William Brewstersteeg, where in an attached printing shop William Brewster's and Thomas Brewer's Pilgrim Press published the religious views that so angered King James and the Church of England. Plaques at the brick Sint-Pieterskerk (St. Peter's Church), in a small square off Kloksteeg, memorialize the Pilgrims, who worshiped here and who lived in its shadow. Special Thanksgiving Day services are held each year in honor of the little band of refugees. An almshouse, the Jean Pesijnhofje, now occupies the restored Groene Port (Green Door) house on Kloksteeg in which Rev. John Robinson and 21 Pilgrim families lived. Robinson was forced to stay behind because of illness and is buried in the church. The almshouse is named for Jean Pesijn, a Belgian Protestant who joined the Leiden community along with his wife Marie de la Noye, and whose son Philip would sail for North America in 1621, where his surname would in time contract to Delano.
On July 21, 1620, the 66 Pilgrims who were leaving boarded barges at Rapenburg Quay for the trip by canal from Leiden to the harbor of Delft, now Delfshaven in Rotterdam. From there they sailed on the Speedwell for England, where the Mayflower awaited them.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.