Sunday, January 22, 2012

Delft & Leiden, the Netherlands

Delft is one of the first Dutch cities that we visited together since moving to the Netherlands, our first visit was in 2007 and we have been back on a couple of occasions with visiting family. Wikipedia describes Delft as being a city and municipality in the province of South Holland(Zuid-Holland), the Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam and The Hague. Delft is primarily known for its typically Dutch town centre (with canals); also for the painter Vermeer, Delft pottery (Delftware) and its association with the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau.

Our hotel tip in Delt is the Best Western Museum Hotel, Oude Delft, 2611 HD, Delft. For a great evening meal check out Retaurant le Marriage. Film buffs may have heard of Delft through the 2003 movie, Girl with a Pearl Earring, a story based around the artist Johannes Vermeer set in his home town of Delft.  When visiting Delft can visit the Vermeer Centre and learn more about his life and his work. 

Oude kerk, in the background

Delft's Stadhuis, stands at one end of the Markt
Town life is concentrated on the Markt, which has the Stadhuis at one end and the Nieuwe Kerk at the other. Visitors can dip into the many shops selling expensive, hand-painted Delftware.

Statue of William of Orange, his mausoleum is in Nieuwe Kerk

The alternative is to take a tour of local factories where the factory shops are often more reasonably priced. Delft is a wonderful city to visit and simply enjoy wandering round the streets and enjoying the picturesque views of the city and the canals.

Nieuwe Kerk

We have really enjoyed our visits to Delft, its a small city easily covered by foot with lots of lovely streets to explore whilst you enjoy the typical Dutch architecture and the canal side views. There are plenty of bars and cafes to stop and relax in as you explore the city. If you're wandering how much time to spend in Delft, I would say that one full day with an overnight stop will give you a good feel for what Delft has to offer.

Leiden is a thriving university town which dates from Roman times. The town developed because of its position on a branch of the Rhine and is still an important trade centre. Rembrandt van Rijn was borh there, a plaque on the facade of a Weddesteeg house marks his birthplace. The Bolenstreek, a 30km stretch between Haarlem and Leiden is Holland's primary bulb growing area. From March the polders are covered in glorious colour, the crocuses are the first to flower followed by the tulips around mid April, the lilies then follow at the end of May. If you're thinking of visiting Leiden, try and visit during this period and tie in a visit to Keukenhof (check out our post on Keukenhof to get a flavour or this feast of colour).

We visited Leiden on the way home from Keukenhof in 2008. One thing for sure is that you will enjoy your visit to these two lovely Ductch cities. Tie them in with a visit to Keukenhof and you'll have a great flavour of life in the Netherlands.