Charming Leiden

Houses over one of Leiden’s canals

I happen to live in a city that is close to everything. The Hague is a small city between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Now, when travelling to those cities, you stop by Leiden or Delft, two very nice and important towns in the region. Just before Christmas 2011, I visited a friend in Leiden. This town – just 20 km from The Hague and 40 km from Amsterdam – is one of the oldest cities in the country, if not the oldest, and it was formed on an artificial hill where years later – according to the history – during the Siege of Leiden, William I of Orange would safe the towns people in Burcht van Leiden (the fake hill) and cut the dikes thus flooding the city and allowing the ships to provide the citizens with food and other goods.

A very old alley somewhere in Leiden

Another interesting fact about the city – that not so many people know about – is that the Pilgrims (in fact the ones that had the Thanksgiving Dinner with the indigenous people in today USA a long, long time ago and for which North Americans now celebrate the Thanksgiving Day) were from Leiden. And they also were the founders (or one of the first European settlers) of today’s New York, that back in the day was known as New Amsterdam. Because of that here in the Netherlands, mostly in South Holland (where Leiden is) the Thanksgiving Day and celebrated with a nice dinner.

Anyways, Leiden is very small – in size –  but very big in surprises and beauty. When I was visiting my friend Dalya, we were talking about how magical the city looks, almost like the kind of place where a fairytale would take place, with all its canals, a mill, very old houses and narrow stoned-streets; besides that it is home to one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands and to the Botanic Garden, that has a very impressive collection of Orchids and Carnivorous plants…

Some – random – beautiful crowned-flower