A lot is known and said about Amsterdam but few people know that just 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam lies a small and beautiful Dutch town called Leiden. Leiden is a town in the Netherlands and is famous for a lot of things. This is the city where the Dutch discovered their famous Dutch dish Stampot” for the first time and is also home to the oldest in the country.
According to legend, during the Eighty Years’ War, the Spanish, tried to capture Leiden in 1573, as the inhabitants stubbornly defended their city and withstood a one-year siege. On October 3, 1574, when the resistance finally succeeded in driving the Spanish away and liberating the city, it is reported that the Spanish soldiers fleeing Leiden left cooked bits of an unfamiliar stew of carrots, meat, onions and parsnips, which the starved inhabitants of Leiden ate up really quickly. Not knowing what to call the unfamiliar dish, they named it “Hutspot”, and it has remained a symbol of their victory till this day.
The anniversary of the liberation of Leiden, known as “Leids Ontzet” in the Netherlands, is still celebrated every 3rd of October in Leiden and by Dutch nationals everywhere. It is a celebration that has to do with the consumption of a lot of hutspot. It’s definitely one for all of our mashed potatoes lovers out there.
The town of Leiden is also the birthplace of Rembrandt and for its beautiful, old city centre (the second biggest after Amsterdam). It’s a friendly town with a large population of students.
Located in the Dutch province of South Holland, Leiden is known for its centuries-old architecture and the University of Leiden, which happens to be the oldest university in the Netherlands, founded in the 16th century to commemorate the town’s resistance of the Spanish during the Eighty Years’ War. The university houses the Hortus Botanicus Leiden Botanical Garden, founded in 1590 and is where the tulip was introduced to Western Europe.
Leiden is definitely a city you’d want to visit. It is both old and modern and is a beehive of activities during the summer months.