Capital city, Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden is the capital of the Province of Friesland (Fryslân) and is the biggest city of the Frisian ‘Elf Steden’ (eleven cities). For a year the city was the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2018, which is no surprise if you look at the picturesque city centre and the sheer amount of cultural events and activities it hosts. Last but not least, Leeuwarden is the Capital of Water Technology. The so called WaterCampus is a hub of a worldwide network for water technology. The campus is a pool of knowledge and a source of innovation.
These are already three reasons to visit the city, but Leeuwarden has much more in store for you. Wander through the streets and be overwhelmed by the monumental buildings and beautiful architecture. Therefor we created a summary of must-see location in Leeuwarden. Within the course of a weekend you won’t be able to see it all. Reason enough to return to the city ones more in the near future.
The Oldehove is the icon of Leeuwarden and should not be skipped during your stay. It is built in the year 1529 and is more slanted than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. What should have been part of a large cathedral, is now a lonely tower that you can admire from a distance, but also from within; it provides a beautiful view across the city.
Until ten years ago the Blokhuispoort was a fully functional prison. Nowadays it is a cultural institution and a place filled with small businesses, a library and restaurants. More than hundred creative minds are accommodated in this intriguing facility and either work alone or cooperate with each other. It even houses one of the few vinyl pressing plants of the Netherlands.
In the early days of the city De Waag (literally it means scale, but it represents a market where goods are weighed) was the centre of trade. It is built around 1595 and has been in service until 1880. Since then all trade was moved to Beursplein (market square). Nowadays De Waag is a welcoming lunch room and an iconic landmark in the commercial streets of Leeuwarden.
The so called ‘beursgebouw’, the old marketplace, is a place of knowledge and hardworking students, as it is part of the University of Groningen. Before becoming a university it preserved stories and knowledge in the form of the library of Leeuwarden. Build in 1880 it was designed as a place of trade meanly for wheat. Near the railway station and fairway the location of this neoclassical building was ideal.
On the street called Voorstreek we find a building most citizens of Leeuwarden walk by without knowing how special it really is. The Centraal Apotheek (central pharmacy) is still in original condition, which makes it a striking building to behold. It was buit in 1905 with yellow and red-brown stones in the Art Nouveau style. It has been a pharmacy ever since its inception.
Sint Bonifatius Kerk
This church is dedicated to the Saint Bonifatius and was built in 1884 according to the design of architect P.J.H. Cuypers. Although it is a relatively new church, it is striking in size and beauty. The inside is decorated with painted wall panels, stained glass windows, no less than five altars and many remarkable decorations.
During your stay in Leeuwarden, you can escape the city life in the Prinsentuin (garden of princes). Within the city park you will find a music cupola, a grand cafe and probably the most beautiful marina of the Netherlands. Of course the park offers a lot of space to have a picnic, unwind and enjoy the boats passing by.
Going out & music
If you want to spend an evening out or enjoy some music, Leeuwarden has a lot to offer. Bars, cafes, concert venues and theatres, all you will find nearby Stadslogies. Even on the same street, Ruiterskwartier, you will find bar Bebidas, concert venue Neushoorn, Club Red and city theatre De Harmonie. Take one turn to the right and you will be among the nicest bars in Leeuwarden such as Bar Sybs, Café de Nachtwacht and De Doelebar. On the other end of this alley, Oude Doelesteeg, you end up on the commercial street Nieuwestad with not only a lot of stores, but also a lot of bars, restaurants and two cinemas.
Culture & history
When rises again it is time delve deep into the history and culture of the city and the province. The several museums of Leeuwarden tell you the stories that took place within this region, stories about historical events, nature and cultural development. There is something to learn and enjoy for everybody, young and old. We would like to recommend you to pay a visit to the following museums.
With a diverse and alternating exhibitions, Fries Museum (Frisian museum) is a time machine traveling through the history of the Frisian province. Through the years the museum has shown many extraordinary exhibitions about the mysterious Mata Hari, the battle of Grutte Pier against the Dutch and the story of painter and artist M.C. Escher.
The most precious collection of pottery and ceramics is presented in Keramiekmuseum Princessehof. The museum owns the biggest and most diverse collection of Chinees porcelain in the Netherlands. In addition it shows the rich and versatile Dutch Art Nouveau and Art Deco ceramics from 1880 up until 1930. The museum also has multiple alternating and remarkable exhibitions to discover.
Natuurmuseum Fryslân (nature museum) is all about nature and adventure and offers a nice day for the whole family. Not only your children, but even their grandparent will discover new things about the intriguing wild life of Fryslân. Be amazed by the treasures captain Severein collected during his journey around the world, be surprised how small you feel next to the jaws of a blue whale or check out the taxidermist preparing an owl or a falcon.
Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden
Nowhere you will discover as much about the history of Leeuwarden as in Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden. Kilometers of historical documents, from the Middle Ages up until recent history, are exhibited and made public. Relive the incredible story of this seemingly small town in a treasure chest full of relics, memorabilia and documents.
As you can imagine, you can spent weeks in Leeuwarden. So don’t hesitate to return if you only planned a weekend trip. In addition, through the year many events are organised such as music festivals like Welcome to the Village, Cityproms and Psy-Fi, the film festival Noordelijk Film Festival, the culinary event Ljouwert Culinair and many, many more.
See you soon in Leeuwarden!