The Castle of Leiden, better known as “Burcht van Leiden” in Dutch, is an 11th century Shell keep located in the town of Leiden. The castle was built where two tributaries of the river Rhine meet. One of those tributaries is the Leidse Rijn, while the other now serves as a canal. The structure sits atop a motte and now serves as a public park.
A Look at the History of the Castle of Leiden
The castle had a very modest beginning. The hill it sits upon was raised several times throughout history and finally reached its 9 meter peek in the 11th century. The keep was originally used by Ada van Holland as her personal residence until her father’s death in 1203. From time to time, the castle was also used as a place of refuge from flooding. After Ada’s father died, she was captured by her uncle and was forced out of the Castle of Leiden. Before her capture, the building was rebuilt after a devastating attack left it in ruins. Shortly after she was captured, the keep was once again attacked but this time, it was rebuilt with brick.
As time progressed and in the 13th century, the castle lost its defensive significance. By this time, much of the village’s homes were built around the hill’s base, which meant the entire city would have to be destroyed before reaching the castle. The interior of the keep was eventually demolished and its materials were used for city construction.
The city purchased the property in 1651 and turned it into a water tower. The intricate system of water pipes can still be found in the city and are still intact. During this time, part of the keep wall was redesigned to honor the leading families of the city. The keep also features two other gates: One at the base of the hill and one on the southern side of the complex. The gateway in the southern region contains a poem written in Latin, which was used to teach the basics of grammar to students in the city. Eventually, the keep would be turned into a public park. In 1999, a plaque was placed near the Southern gate with a modern Dutch translation of the Latin poem.
The castle is a good example of a shell keep. It consists of a tuff and brick circular wall with ramparts resting on arches. The carvings surrounding the gate are a decorative addition from the 18th century. The mote on which the castle is built is now a public park. Leiden castle is a nice attraction for tourist seeking to learn more about the city of Leiden.
A legend has it that the well inside the castle which is now dry received its waters from the North Sea 8 kilometers away because of a herring that was once caught in the well.
What To Expect
The keep is a great castle to visit and a must see for anyone wanting to learn about the city or just on a touristic tour:
From the hill top on the park you can have some of the most stunning views of the city. The keep is located right at the center of the city so it is possible to view the city from any direction
A Fantastic Park
The mote on which the castle is built has been transformed into a beautiful park, where beside a panoramic view is perfect for a quite walks.
A Great Castle Symbol Of Leiden
The castle of Leiden has a fantastic architecture and a must see for any visitor to the city of Leiden.
How To Get There
Visits to the castle is free of charge. Anyone visiting the city of Leiden would be tempted to visit since the castle is right at the center of the city and can be seen from miles away. There are public transports buses and trams that can take you to the foothill of the castle.
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