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The Wall Poems of Leiden (Muurgedichten van Leiden)

Leiden - Muurgedichten - Willen Hussem

De Muurgedichten van Leiden—otherwise translated as The Wall Poems of Leiden—are a collection of poems, (a total of 101) which have been painted on the exterior walls of buildings in the city of Leiden, The Netherlands. The wall poems in Leiden are quite popular among the population and an attraction for tourists.

The poems are written in different languages, the language of the poet, and among the poems there is usually a sign with a Dutch and English translation. Those passing by are often stimulated by the poems itself, the visual image of the letters and the background of the wall. You’ll face different writings and images that link to other cultures.

History

Leiden - Muurgedichten - Hans Lodeizen

The project “Poems on walls” started in 1992 and was funded by the private Tegen-Beeld foundation of Ben Walenkamp and Jan-Willem Bruins with additional funding coming from several corporations and the city of Leiden. The first poem was from the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva.

Since then, many other poems were added. The project concluded in 2005 with the Spanish poem De profundis by Federico Garcia Lorca. Some wall poems have been lost, but the majority are still present. In addition, some new wall poems were added in 2010. Other poets  included in the set are  E.E. Cummings, Langston Hughes, Du Fu, Louis Oliver, Pablo Neruda, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Shakespeare, and W.B. Yeats, and local writers such as Piet Paaltjens and J. C. Bloem.

One of the more obscure poems in the collection is that which was written in the Buginese language on a canal wall near the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies.

What To Expect

Leiden - Muurgedichten - shakespeare

The wall poems can be found throughout different streets in Leiden and can be explored on your own or with a set out route called the Wall Poems Hike.

Poems From All Over The World

The poems stimulate the mind. Each poem is like a piece of culture for example Russian, Spanish, Portuguese,Hebrew, Japanese, Indonesian, each written in the native language with Dutch and English translations available on a sign.

Guided Tour

There are guided tours for viewing the poems. An entire trip takes about two to three hours. The walk takes you along the wall poems in the center and the remains almost entirely within the canals. During the walk you will see about 25 of the 101 wall poems of Leiden. The first 43 poems have been collected in a book by Marieen Van Der Weij, and the rest are described in a second volume published in 2005. You will also admire the most beautiful places of the city.

Restaurants, Fast food and drink premises

All along the walk you will find restaurants, and fast food and drink premises where you can occasionally stop for a drink or a nice meal

Prepare For A Long Walk

If you are on a tour by yourself, you must prepare yourself for a long walk. Local tourist offices often help with route maps. A great and fantastic method of exploring is if you have a bicycle; riding and occasionally looking up to spot the poems.

How To Get There

The poems can be found throughout various streets in Leiden and along the canals. A great place to start is from the central station.