A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
I haven’t written for a few weeks now so some of my posts are about not so recent events. Nevertheless I thought it’d be worthwhile sharing it on here. So a few weeks ago the ISN Leiden organised a walk around the city and more specifically around courtyards in Leiden. These are known as Hofjes and are essentially courtyards with charitable housing for the poor and the elderly.
These have been around for several hundred years and the sites have been inhabited by some famous people for instance the painter Jan Steen:
Hofjes are usually in a U shape with a garden in the middle. You can also see examples of hand-pumps that were once in use.
Interestingly you can’t visit a hofje whenever you feel like it. Tourists are usually allowed in only on Sundays and even then it is expected that the residents will not be disturbed by visitors.
Outside one of the hofjes I saw what seemed to be conflicting information; one sign stating it was a monument and the other calling it ‘forbidden-to-visit’:
The walk was organised during the Leiden open monument weekend and so straight after the hofjes we all made our way to Pieterskerk in the heart of the city.
I remember being in the church right next to this one during my orientation week but had only heard of Pieterskerk. It was very busy in and around the church, especially thanks to the live music being performed.
After a quick look on the ground floor I decided to take the stairs to go all the way to the top and enjoy Leiden in a unique way.
The stairs were quite uncomfortable. Agreed that the Church has been around for centuries but perhaps the authorities never did anything to ease access to the top. At times there were too many of us waiting for the people at the top to make way for us. This discomfort didn’t stop me from taking pictures though:
and finally we were at the top and could even see the old Observatory in the distance:
All in all it was a great way to relax and explore Leiden with friends. So the next time you have a free Sunday morning, go live your dreams!