The Burcht van Leiden or the Castle of Leiden is a shell keep fortress on top of a motte (man-made hill) 12 meters above the surrounding ground level, built around 1150. It was intended as a place of safety to protect people from floods. The castle is strategically situated on the confluence of the Old and the New Rhine. As the city grew around it, the Burcht lost its defensive purpose.
The city of Leiden bought the premises from Viscount Claude-Lamoral de Ligne in 1651. It became a water reservoir for public use with a connection to the Visfontijn (Fish Fountain) on the Vismarkt (Fish Market). The use of this pipe system was ended in 1878. After that, it was turned into a city park as it is today.
The Burcht is located in the heart of Leiden. It is rather hidden even though it is perched high above the city. To find it, make your way towards the streets of Nieuwstraat or Burgsteeg. Look out for a yellow entrance gate dated 1658. You cannot miss the statue of a heroic lion with a drawn sword resting on the shield of the Leiden Keys at the top. Enter the gate and you will find the Burcht van Leiden further up.
At the base of the hill before the stairs, there is another gate made of wrought iron richly decorated with the coat of arms from the mayors of Leiden. It was placed in 1685 while the two late Gothic columns in front of it were placed earlier in 1652.
The climb-up to the restored ramparts of the Burcht van Leiden is definitely worth it! The 360º panoramic view is an absolute breathtaking!! A must-see during your visit to Leiden.
It is freely accessible to the public through out the year.
Incidentally, that majestic church in the distance is the Hooglandse Kerk (translation: High Land); the second parish church of Leiden started out as a simple wooden building in 1314. (Photo number 2, 3, 4 & 5)
📍 Van der Sterrepad 5. 2312 EK Leiden.
Look for the yellow entry gate “Burg Port”