Leiden, Holland

Leiden in Holland was a city of free-thinkers, relative religious tolerance, and a long tradition of offering shelter to the dispossessed. Following their escape from England, the Mayflower Pilgrims carved new lives here, bought land near Pieterskerk and built houses that became known as the Engelse poort (English Alley). 

Living here for 12 years, Leiden had a profound influence on the lives of the Pilgrims - even after their departure. 'Civil marriage' was one innovation that the Pilgrims took with them to the new world.

Led by John Robinson, the group of refugees were granted leave to settle in the city - the request was answered with... “No honest persons will be refused free and unconstrained entry to the city to take up residence”.

From 1620 some of the Pilgrim community emigrated from Leiden to North America.

 

 

There were several reasons the Pilgrims left Leiden. The freedom of religion was limited in the Netherlands too. On top of that the threat of war loomed large, because of the end of the Twelve Year Truce with Spain in 1621. The economic situation of the Pilgrims was not always very good and finally they were afraid that their children would integrate too much into Dutch life, and the Dutch church. They were right on the last count. More than half of the group remained in Leiden and eventually became indistinguishable from the locals.

The ships that brought the Pilgrims across the Atlantic have become famous: Mayflower (1620), Fortune (1621), Anne and Little James (1623) and the second Mayflower (1629).

Their Pilgrims years in Holland formed one of the bases from which they worked. That is why you can still discern old Leiden traditions in the modern USA.

 

Visiting Leiden

Leiden is just 40 minutes from Amsterdam and as welcoming and charming a city today as it was when the Pilgrims moved there.

Steeped in history, the city boasts many historic sites, monument, alms-houses - and of course windmills! Plus there are over 28km of waterways to explore.

Located in a beautifully preserved house built ca 1365-1370 near the clock tower of the Hooglandskerk, the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum tells the stories of the founders of New England, the Pilgrims. Furnishings from Pilgrim times show aspects of daily life, while events involving the Pilgrims themselves are illustrated with a remarkable collection of sixteenth and seventeenth-century maps and engravings by such artists as Gerard Mercator, Adrian van de Venne, Adriaen van Ostade, and Jacques de Gheyn.  

Named after St. Peter, the patron saint of Leiden, Pieterskerk was founded in 1121 and is mainly constructed in late-Gothic style. The Pieterskerk is associated with the Pilgrim Fathers, whose leader John Robinson, lived in the nearby Pieterskerkchoorsteeg (marked with a plaque). John Robinson is buried here, as are the physician Herman Boerhave and  the painter Jan Steen (of Rijksmuseum fame). The church itself features a small exhibition on the Pilgrims in Leiden.

Leiden Mayflower Highlights

  • Attractions
  • Accommodation

Leiden American Pilgrim Museum

Located in a beautifully preserved house built ca 1365-1370, the Leiden American Pilgrim museum tells the stories of the founders of New England, the Pilgrims.

Pieterskerk Leiden

The Pieterskerk has been a central monument in Leiden since the twelfth century. With almost 900 years worth of history, the Pieterskerk has been an important meeting place in Dutch history.

Museum De Lakenhal

Museum De Lakenhal presents an exhibition which sheds light on this remarkable journey, from their home country England, via the city of Leiden where they were in voluntary exile for 11 years, to the world of the Native Americans they entered and the colony they founded. In the exhibition, questions are highlighted, offering a range of historical and contemporary perspectives.

De Vliet

When the Pilgrims left Leiden in 1620 they passed under the Vlietbrug on their way to Delfshaven.

St. Louis Church

Before the Reformation this church was a stop for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.

The Burcht

An artificial hill, a motte, constructed around 1000 AD. A circular castle from the middle of the twelfth century stands on the top.

Walloon Church

When the hospital was still standing, Myles Standish, an English soldier who later joined the Pilgrims, was nursed here.

City Hall

Several Pilgrims were married in the City Hall, amongst them William Bradford and Dorothy May.

Blue stone

The blue stone in the middle of the Breestraat marks the centre of the city. In medieval it was the place where courts of law were held and sentences carried out.

William Brewster Alley

William Brewster lived and worked in an area of Leiden near Pieterskerk. Today the street where he lived is called William Brewstersteeg.

Jean Pesijnhof

Across the street from the Pieterskerk, the grand entrance to the Jean Pesijns Almshouse stands since 1683 where John Robinson’s house had been. A memorial stone is in the wall to the right of the entry.

Latin School

In Pilgrim times, Rembrandt studied here.

Lokhorst Church

Leiden's Mennonite community built the Lokhorstkerk in 1613-38 behind existing houses and expanded it in 1648.

Langebrug

Somewhere in a close on the Langebrug, Pilgrim James Chilton lived with his family.

St. Pancras Church

Although most Pilgrims who died in Leiden were buried in or around the Pieterskerk, a few were buried in the Hooglandsekerk, including a child of William Brewster’s, who died in June, 1609, shortly after the Pilgrims arrived in Leiden.

Waag

Not only were all wares coming to market brought here to be weighed, the landing in front of the Weigh House was the terminus of regular boat service to Leiden from Haarlem and Amsterdam. Here is where the Pilgrims first set foot on Leiden’s land.

Mayflower Escaperoom

With only 60 minutes on the clock and many difficult puzzles and riddles, the Mayflower Escaperoom is an exciting challenge for families, friends and colleagues.

University

The University was founded in 1575 and is the oldest university in the Netherlands. John Robinson took part in heated theological debates.

Charm and personal attention

Boutique Hotel De Barones van Leyden

Both at 'De Barones van Leyden' and at 'Huys van Leyden', the emphasis is on personal attention, convenience, style and relaxation. De Barones van Leyden is situated in a canal-side house on Oude Herengracht dating from 1644 and overlooks the tugboat port.

An intimate hotel right in the city centre of Leiden.

Boutique Hotel Huys van Leyden

The Huys van Leyden is an intimate hotel right in the city centre of Leiden

Between the two main Leiden shopping streets

City Hotel Nieuw Minerva

Both at 'De Barones van Leyden' and at 'Huys van Leyden', the emphasis is on personal attention, convenience, style and relaxation.

A magnificent view over the city

City Resort Hotel Leiden

City Resort Hotel has a magnificent view over the city

Business guests, groups, meetings and families.

Holiday Inn Leiden

Spacious design, versatile hotel Highly suitable for business guests, groups, meetings and families. Part of the largest hotel chain in the world, InterContinentals Hotels Group. This will give you the benefit of the high international standard guarantee for service and quality.

A wide diversity in hotel rooms

Golden Tulip Leiden Centre

The Golden Tulip (4-star hotel) and Tulip Inn Leiden (3-star hotel) are situated in a modern building situated between the city centre of Leiden and the Bio Science Park, about 100 m from Leiden Central Station and close to the A44 motorway to Amsterdam and The Hague. The city centre of Leiden with its historical buildings, museums, cheerful sidewalk cafés and intimate restaurants lies within walking distance. In 2014 the rooms, meeting rooms and restaurant were completely renovated.

Tripadvisor winner in 2015

Hilton Garden Inn Leiden

This hotel is the first Hilton Garden Inn in the Netherlands and provides that ideal mix between high-quality accommodation and excellent facilities at competitive prices for business travellers and tourists alike.

Very tasteful, listed conference hotel

Kasteel Oud Poelgeest

Landgoed Oud-Poelgeest is like a luscious still-life where many famous people have gained their inspiration to continue their life’s works and make them known to the public. Herman Boerhaave, Jan Wolkers and other well-known individuals have reached their inner selves here at Kasteel Oud-Poelgeest and gained their inspiration from all the splendour present at the estate.

Family hotel with spacious rooms

Hotel Mayflower

Family hotel with spacious rooms overlooking the water of the Oude Vest, one of the widest canals in Leiden, with historic facades. Right in the heart of Leiden city centre.

Right in the middle of the characteristic city centre

Hotel De Doelen

This pleasant hotel is situated at one of the most beautiful canals in all of Europe, Rapenburg, and it is right in the middle of the characteristic city centre of Leiden.

Comfortable Bed

Van der Valk Hotel Leiden

Table and wineglasses

Tulip Inn Leiden Centre

Luxurious villa in the city centre

Villa Rameau

Formerly the residence of the sexton of the monumental Pieterskerk Leiden, now a beautiful townhouse for a short stay in the heart of Leiden. After a thorough restoration, classic and design go hand in hand.

Boutique Hotel d'Oude Morsch

Boutique Hotel d'Oude Morsch

Boutique Hotel d'Oude Morsch

Rembrandt Hotel

Rembrandt Hotel

Rembrandt Hotel

Ibis Hotel Leiden

Ibis Hotel Leiden

Ibis Hotel Leiden

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