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Leiden: The Plymouth Pilgrims’ Dutch detour

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posted January 9, 2019

The Dutch city of Leiden has long been known as a bastion of intellectual freedom. It is the home of the Netherlands’ oldest university—which was established by William of Orange in 1575—and one of Europe’s first major newspapers.

And in 1609, Leiden was a refuge for about 100 English religious settlers, many of whom traveled to America in 1620 and founded the Plymouth Colony. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ journey, the city of Leiden has joined destinations in the U.S. and U.K. to participate in the Mayflower 400/Plymouth 400 program of tours and events.

Visitors to Leiden can learn about the Pilgrims’ years in Holland at sites throughout the city. At the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, groups can tour a circa 1365 home with furnishings from the Mayflower’s time. In addition to seeing what daily life was like, guests can also view the museum’s collection of seventeenth-century maps and engravings. At Pieterskerk, the city’s oldest church, visitors will find the burial site of John Robinson, the pastor who organized the Mayflower journey.

In addition to seeing the city’s Mayflower-related sites, visitors can walk along or boat through the local canals. Leiden also has sites with ties to luminaries such as Albert Einstein, John Quincy Adams and Rembrandt. Visitors in the city will have quick access to many of the Netherlands’ other historical gems, too: Amsterdam, the Hague, Utrecht and Delft are all within a one-hour train ride.

To learn more about Leiden’s Mayflower 400 events and attractions, contact Mincke Pijpers, marketing manager for Leiden, Key to Discovery, or go to

Top photo: Haven Galgewater
Photo by Leiden Marketing