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Famous for its tranquil waterways, vibrant university culture and rich local legacy, the unique city of Leiden radiates ancient and artistic charm. The atmospheric old town is bejewelled with historic, half-timbered houses and excellent museums, both of which allude to a prosperous and captivating past. Wander the banks of the calm canals to absorb the authentic Dutch culture of this European gem, which is regularly eclipsed by my prominent and proximate cities. A distinct lack of tourists will ensure visitors feel as though they’ve got the city all to themselves, allowing them the space and serenity required to visit all of the alluring attractions.
With almost 3000 historical monuments, visitors will need over a week to discover all of Leiden’s cultural highlights; a building that dazzles with its distinct character is the Stadhuis Leiden, the rich and Renaissance inspired façade of which dates back to the 16th century.
The De Waag weigh house is a fantastic example of typical Dutch classicism with its gorgeous gabled and timbered façade. Steeped in cultural history, amongst the building’s many functions was cheese shop however it is now used as a cultural centre of dance and drama.
Encapsulating over five centuries worth of scientific and medicinal research, the entrancing exhibitions of the Boerhaave Museum feature everything from the world’s oldest pendulum clock to scientific equipment used in groundbreaking experiments. Visitors can step into the shoes of scientists by conducting their own investigations while the museum’s astounding anatomical theatre showcases hundreds of human and animal skeletons.
Occupying a prime location in what is considered one of Leiden’s most picturesque parts, the Dartel Restaurant serves regionally inspired and locally soured specialities in an impeccably chic setting. Tantalising tasting menus showcase the region’s most insatiable ingredients by presenting a choice of tuna, liver, lamb and cheese. (Kloksteeg 13, 2311 SK Leiden, Netherlands)