It's the river Rhine which flows trough Leiden. The old Rhine. With small side rivers.
Somewhere between 1100 and 1300 people started their settlements on the shores.
Later they started to build workshops and houses.
But the very first building was a castle on a dry place (because of the tide of the river) and on a safe place (because of an enemy like unfriendly Spaniards).
It was build on an artificial hill. This so called 'Burcht' still exists in the town centre.
Trough the ages people from Leiden dug out canals.
For transport and to protect the city. Because of the enemy.
Canals where also made because of industry. To transport goods and to get rid of polluted water.
After painting wool in wool-factories the paint was going in the canals. So often the water was coloured.
Leiden has been a colourful town.
These days the water is clean enough to swim in it.
There is no tide anymore. The water-level is regulated by the 'Hoogheemraadschap Rijnland'. It may not be too high or too low.
The choice of available trips is wide.
There is, for instance, the 50 minute tour. It starts from the landing stage in the oldest part of the city centre.
On the way to the "Gallows Water", which shores, in medieval times, were used for public hangings, we will pass through the old harbour with its antique ships. We will see the 16th century municipal carpenters yard, the recently rebuilt flour mill and the "Rembrandtbridge", close to the place where the great masterpainter was born.
From there we'll follow the 17th century moat,which encircles the city, and sail to the"Zijlpoort", the 16th century northern towngate, flanked by remaining ramparts. Gentlemans canal and southern Rhine branch will lead us back along the century old marketquays to the place of departure.
Instead of going West we might as well go East!
Along the old Rhine for a while.
Provided the waterlevel isn't too high, we could sneak our way through the gloomy watervaults -quite an experience!- at the end of the monumental "Rapenburg", one of Europe's most beautiful canals.
It goes without saying that a combination of trips will guarantee a splendid tour, making your visit to Leiden a very worth while event, ever to be remembered.
Shorter or longer tours, may easily be arranged. As a matter of fact you may be taken to almost anywhere the water leads to, which, regarding the abundancy of local waterways, implies that possibilities are equally endless. Besides, these are not restricted by the city's boundaries.
Just minutes north of town a vast lake district extends, the "Kager Plassen", offering wonderful views of windmills, islands and polders, the classic Dutch landscape, painted so often by the famous 16th century masters, which, since those days, has virtually remained unchanged. Also we could take you to one of the many restaurants in and out of town, situated near the waterside. Perhaps you'd feel more inclined to a picknick tour to one of the islands, to be found in the lakes. Or you just need a watercab. Or,... well, we make any arrangement to perfectly measure your personal wish.