Commune (pop., 1999: 117,389), western Netherlands. First mentioned in 922 as a possession of Utrecht diocese, it was governed by the court of Holland until 1420. It became a printing centre after the Elzevir family set up their press there circa 1581. The University of Leiden was founded in 1575, and the town became a centre of theology, science, and art. Leiden was the birthplace of painters Rembrandt van Rijn and Jan van Goyen, and the Pilgrims resided there for 11 years before they sailed to America in 1620.
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(in English and archaic Dutch also Leyden) is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands and has 118,000 inhabitants. It forms a single urban area with Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten, Valkenburg, Rijnsburg and Katwijk, with 254,000 inhabitants. It is located on the Old Rhine, close to the cities of The Hague and Haarlem. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.
Its geographical coordinates are (in decimals: 52.16N, 4.49E). RD coordinates (94, 464).
A university town since 1575, Leiden houses:
Leiden formed on an artificial hill at the confluence of the rivers Oude and Nieuwe Rijn (Old and New Rhine). In the oldest reference to this, from circa 860, the settlement was called Leithon. The landlord of Leiden, situated in a stronghold on the hill, was initially subject to the Bishop of Utrecht but around 1100 the burgraves became subject to the county of Holland. This county got its name in 1101 from a domain near the stronghold: Holtland or Holland.
Leiden was sacked in 1047 by Emperor Henry III. Early 13th century, Ada, Countess of Holland took refuge here when she was fighting in a civil war against her uncle, William I, Count of Holland. He besieged the stronghold and captured Ada.
Leiden received city rights in 1266. In 1389, its population had grown to about 4000 persons.
On June 24 the army appeared before the walls of Leiden. On August 17, 1420, after a two-month siege the city surrendered to John of Bavaria. The burgrave Filips of Wassenaar was stripped of his offices and rights and lived out his last years in captivity.
Leiden flourished in the 16th and 17th century. At the close of the 15th century the weaving establishments (mainly broadcloth) of Leiden were very important, and after the expulsion of the Spaniards Leiden cloth, Leiden baize and Leiden camlet were familiar terms. In the same period, Leiden developed an important printing and publishing industry. The influential printer Christoffel Plantijn lived there at one time. One of his pupils was Lodewijk Elzevir (1547–1617), who established the largest bookshop and printing works in Leiden, a business continued by his descendants.
In 1572, the city sided with the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule and played an important role in the Eighty Years' War. Besieged from May until October 1574 by the Spanish, Leiden was relieved by the cutting of the dikes, thus enabling ships to carry provisions to the inhabitants of the flooded town. As a reward for the heroic defence of the previous year, the University of Leiden was founded by William I of Orange in 1575. Yearly on October 3, the end of the siege is still celebrated in Leiden. Tradition tells that the citizens were offered the choice between a university and a certain exemption from taxes.
Leiden is also known as the place where the Pilgrims (as well as some of the first settlers of New Amsterdam) lived for a time in the early 17th century before their departure to Massachusetts and New Amsterdam in the New World
In the 17th century, Leiden prospered, in part because of the impetus to the textile industry by refugees from Flanders. While the city had lost about a third of its 15000 citizens during the siege of 1574, it quickly recovered to 45000 inhabitants in 1622, and may have come near to 70000 circa 1670. During the Dutch Golden Era, Leiden was the second largest city of Holland, after Amsterdam.
From the late 17th century onwards Leiden slumped, mainly because of decline of the cloth industries. In the beginning of the 19th century the baize manufacture was altogether given up, although industry remained central to Leiden economy. This decline is painted vividly by the fall in population. The population of Leiden had sunk to 30,000 between 1796 and 1811, and in 1904 was 56,044.
In 1842, the railroad from Leiden to Haarlem was inaugurated and one year later the railway to Den Haag was completed, resulting in some improvements to the social and economic situation. But the number of citizens was still not much above 50000 in 1900. Not until 1896 did Leiden begin to expand beyond its 17th century moats. After 1920, new industries were established in the city, such as the canning and metal industries.
During World War II, Leiden was hit hard by Allied bombardments. The areas surrounding the railway station and Marewijk were almost completely destroyed.
Today Leiden forms an important part of Dutch history. The end of the Spanish siege in 1574 is celebrated on 3 October by an annual parade, a day off, a fair and eating the traditional food of herring and white bread and hutspot. However, the most important piece of Dutch history contributed by Leiden was the Constitution of the Netherlands. Johan Rudolf Thorbecke (1798–1872) wrote the Dutch Constitution in April 1848 in his house at Garenmarkt 9 in Leiden.
Leiden has important functions as a shopping and trade center for communities around the city. The University of Leiden is famous for its many developments including the famous Leyden jar, a capacitor made from a glass jar, invented in Leiden by Pieter van Musschenbroek in 1746. (It was actually first invented by Ewald Georg von Kleist in Germany the year before, but the name "Leyden jar" stuck.) Another development was in cryogenics: Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1913 Nobel prize winner in physics) liquefied helium for the first time (1908) and later managed to reach a temperature of less than one degree above the absolute minimum. Albert Einstein also spent some time at Leiden University during his early to middle career.
The chief of Leiden's numerous churches are the Hooglandsche Kerk (or the church of St Pancras, built in the 15th century and containing a monument to Pieter Adriaanszoon van der Werff) and the Pieterskerk (church of St Peter (1315) with monuments to Scaliger, Boerhaave and other famous scholars. From a historical perspective the Marekerk is interesting too. Arent van 's Gravesande designed the church in 1639. Other fine examples of his work in Leiden are De Lakenhal, in which the municipal museum is located, and the Bibliotheca Thysiana. The growing town needed another church and the Marekerk was the first church to be built in Leiden (and in Holland) after the Reformation. It is an example of Dutch Classicism. In the drawings by Van 's Gravesande the pulpit is the centrepiece of the church. The pulpit is modelled after the one in the Nieuwe Kerk at Haarlem (designed by Jacob van Campen). The building was first used in 1650, and is still in use. Marekerk
The town centre contains many buildings that are in use by the University of Leiden. The Academy Building is housed in a former 16th century convent. Among the institutions connected with the university are the national institution for East Indian languages, ethnology and geography; the botanical gardens, founded in 1587; the observatory (1860); the museum of antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden); and the ethnographical museum, of which P. F. von Siebold's Japanese collections was the nucleus (Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde). The Bibliotheca Thysiana occupies an old Renaissance building of the year 1655. It is especially rich in legal works and vernacular chronicles. Noteworthy are also the many special collections at Leiden University Library among which those of the Society of Dutch Literature (1766) and the collection of casts and engravings. In recent years the university has built the Bio Science Park at the city's outskirts to accommodate the Science departments.
Leiden is on the planned route of the RijnGouweLijn, the Netherland's first Light rail project. Within Leiden its route would have been: Leiden Lammenschans - Korevaarstraat - Breestraat - stop Haarlemmerstraat - Stationsplein - Joop Walenkamptunnel - Albinusdreef (LUMC) - Sandfortdreef - Zernikedreef (Hogeschool) - (Einsteinweg) - Ehrenfestweg - (Plesmanlaan) - Transferium A44. This route, however, has been rejected by Leiden citizens in a referendum.