‘Fortunately it’s not Amsterdam here, but in the canals it looks a bit like it today’. Joris is leaning on the helm of the boat as he begins his talk. ‘Leiden is the city of water’, he continues. ‘We have little space in the city, but enough water’. He skillfully maneuvers his blue sloop in front of the Blauwpoortsbrug. He warns again with a smile. ‘Don’t forget to stoop to the bridges’.
Actually it is quite useful to get acquainted with To lead first one cruise to make. To orient yourself first. And explore the beautiful places from a different perspective. It is teeming with boats on the Rhine. The electrically powered boat makes its way silently through the murky water. The beautiful facade of the Stadstimmerwerf with its red and white shutters attracts attention. It doesn’t take long for the most famous resident to be mentioned. Leiden is the birthplace of Rembrandt van Rijn. His original birth house has long since been demolished. The wooden Rembrandt Bridge is based on bridges from his own work and the nearby mill De Put is a replica of what the mill must have looked like in Rembrandt’s time. We sail past Hortus Botanicus, the green oasis of the city and around the Old Observatory. It takes a while to bend down in the tunnel to arrive at the Nieuwe Rijn to continue the tour along the canals with its canal houses and houseboats. From the Karnemelkbrug it is again traffic jams towards the heart of Leiden. Things come to a standstill at the Koornbrug. Joris wipes the imaginary sweat from his forehead when the boat is locked again. After the reconnaissance tour, our discovery of Leiden can begin.
Rembrandt as a guide
Who else but Rembrandt can take you through Leiden by the hand. The Rembrandt Route follows in the footsteps of Van Rijn and other famous painters through the city. This walk leads you criss-cross through the city center. Through alleys, hidden courtyards and picturesque parks. I meet a bronze Rembrandt in his younger years. He looks at the easel with his self-portrait on it. Through the Rembrandtpark, the route continues past the bust of Rembrandt on the Wittesingel towards the Pieterskerk. In the 1970s, the church was taken out of service and turned into an event location. The museum café is spacious with relaxing armchairs and hammocks. A swing hangs in the middle of the atmospheric church. A great stop on the route.
An empty easel stands in front of eight chairs. We are in the former studio of Jacob van Swanenburg, where the young Rembrandt received his painting training. ‘Young Rembrandt Studio’ is on the sign on the wall. A seven-minute animation film takes us into the life of the young Rembrandt. With beautiful effects that are projected lifelike on the walls and easel. Van Swanenburg ‘tells’ his story in an understandable way so that children also understand who Rembrandt was and what he did. Although the studio is located halfway through the walk, it would have been a great starting point. A narrow firebreak two buildings next to the studio leads us to another beautiful hidden spot, the Crowned Love Gate where fellow painter Jan Steen lived and worked. A small green oasis in the middle of the city center.
Banana tree in the city center
Undoubtedly, with the Hortus Botanicus about the most special inner-city garden in the country. The palm tree is now fairly well established. A banana tree, on which even a bunch of unripe bananas hangs, is of a different order. In the greenhouses you imagine yourself in the tropics, especially in the Victoria greenhouse. The giant water lily with its huge leaves that are strong enough to carry a child. It turns out to be a myth that the white flower only blooms once a year. In summer it blooms regularly, with the flower only opening at the end of the afternoon. We walk along the Japanese and Chinese herb garden. A school of carp in the pond keeps a close eye on every movement on the surface. The fern garden is a green explosion. Several routes and treasure hunts have been set out for children.
Discover and experience
A seagull is pinned to a wooden plank on its back with a few pins. Its paws are tied together with a string. Hanna is just clearing the table. She has spent today gutting the gull in front of many visitors. Interaction and information are central to Naturalis. Simone and Martijn work with dinosaur bones and talk enthusiastically about their work. Families line up for their stories. This is Live Science.
The Naturalis collection is enormous, with more than 40 million objects. The museum was thoroughly renovated and expanded two years ago. The facade is inspired by shapes from nature. The building is actually an attraction in itself. Above us hangs a shark in the ‘life’ museum room. His teeth are terrifying and impressive. Hundreds of stuffed animals, large and small, are in this room. The eye-catcher is one room away. Most dinosaurs are fairly quiet. Trix, on the other hand, can look forward to the necessary attention. Around the skeleton of the adult Tyrannosaurus rex it is pressing for a photo. The bones of the beast were in pristine condition when they were found. The dinosaur must have been a fearsome animal.
Millions of years ahead in time we enter the ice age. A colossal mammoth looks down on the scale model of its former habitat. Original bones of the animal lie on a table for a scavenger hunt for children. There is also plenty to experience in the museum rooms ‘death’ and ‘seduction’. Because Naturalis is all about discovering and experiencing. That while Leiden with, among other things, the Museum of Ethnology, Royal Museum of Antiquities and the Cloth Hall has so many more interesting museums. Leiden is truly a true voyage of discovery.