Leeuwarden

The capital of the province of Friesland in the northern part of Holland, Leeuwarden is actually the result of the integration of three terp or hill settlements. This municipality/city was granted its charter in 1435 and has gained recognition as a significant trading center in Friesland. In the 17th century, it was home to the Frisian Stadtholders who exercised political and administrative powers over Friesland. Agriculturally-centered Leeuwarden also has the largest cattle market in the Netherlands and is an important trade centre as it is easily accessible by road, rail and canal. Several notable people from history have originated from the place including infamous spy and courtesan Mata Hari, William IV, Prince of Orange and poet and novelist Jan Jacob Slauerhoff.

Although Leeuwarden may not be in the list of the most visited places in Holland, this idyllic and picturesque town holds a quaint charm that visitors will come to appreciate. The city canals and narrow walkways in the historic centre affords visitors a good view of the whole place. Having been the seat of the stadtholders, it has a number of historic buildings with Gothic, Medieval and Renaissance influences such as the Stadhoulderlijk hof a former court for the stadtholders now turned into a luxurious hotel, the country houses in Boshuizen Gasthuis and the Kanselarij (Chancellary) which was built in the 16th century and is one of the finest buildings in the city. Another famous attraction in the city is the leaning tower of De Oldehove, an unfinished medieval church tower which is said to lean more than the tower of Pisa in Italy. There is also the Princessehof National Ceramics Museum and the Natural History Museum for visitors who want to explore Friesland and Leeuwarden’s cultural past. Cultural events include the large and colorful flower markets during Ascension Day, open-air performances during summer in the Prisentuin among others.