Burcht van Leiden

Leiden, Netherlands

The Burcht van Leiden is an old shell keep in Leiden constructed in the 11th century. It is located at the spot where two tributaries of the Rhine come together, the Leidse Rijn, and another river, now a canal. The structure is on top of a motte, and is today a public park.

From humble beginnings, the hill was raised during various periods of history up to 9 meters above the surrounding landscape in the 11th century. Ada van Holland used the keep as a residence until her father died in 1203 and she was captured by her uncle. In the same year the previous stone building was rebuilt after an attack on the castle, with tuff stone, and after Ada's removal, in 1204 it was attacked again and rebuilt with brick.

Later in the 13th century the building was considered antiquated, since more and more townspeople and houses were built around the base of the hill, making defenses impossible without destroying most of the city. The old 'interior keep' that had been built against the interior walls (a similar ronded keep construction can still be seen in Teylingen) was slowly dismantled and reused for city construction.

As the city of Leiden grew around it in the 13th and 14th centuries, the ruined castle lost its military function. The location became a romantic patriotic symbol after the Siege of Leiden in 1574. In 1651 the city bought the premises to make it into a water tower for public use. A system of waterpipes leading to squares in the city is still intact. In this period a new portal on the keep wall was designed in 1662 with heraldric symbols by Rombout Verhulst, denoting the leading families of the city. There are two other gates to the Burcht, one at the base of the hill with wrought iron heraldric weapons, built in 1653, and one on the south side of the complex, which itself forms a gateway to the park.



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Founded: 11th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Netherlands


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Robert Downes (18 months ago)
Wonderful historical site. Great views of the city.
Aäron Jansen (19 months ago)
Beautiful, publicly accessible, ancient fortress that offers a great view of Leiden. The view is accompanied with several informational plaques about the history of Leiden.
Nicola Mastrandrea (19 months ago)
If you want to find an authentic little dutch small town you should take a train from Amsterdam/ Rotterdam and go to Leiden. Leiden is a fantastic place to visit. Everything is easy to reach from the station on walk. After 500-600m you can find, inside the city this artificial hill used by citizenships to protect from floods. From here you can see the whole city and landmarks.
Benjamin Poultney (2 years ago)
Can pop by without a booking, it's free to browse, just head up the stairs and you're in. Take a trip round the inside walls, and do a walk around the circumference outside of the castle. Go when it's getting dark though as the lights of Leiden make for much more of a pretty experience. Ps. This castle is OLD. Like seriously old. Make the most of it.
Roy Vlasman (2 years ago)
A nice monument of a great part of history. I grew up in Leiden with the story about this place. As we celebrate every year on 3rd of October. There are a lot of stairs but its amazing to see what happend there and stand there in the middle. One of my favorite places in the city for sure!
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