An intact, 17thcentury defensive moat encircles the old city, but only small segments of the walls and gates remain. Today, the moat serves as a canal and much of its inner banks are bordered by parks.
Despite its tall stack, Leiden’s gas thermal power plant was remarkably unobtrusive, leaving the parklike atmosphere around the canal intact. I was surprised to see what looked like small, mastless sailboats used as canal boats.
Quiet residential canals exuded a peaceful tranquility, and The Leiden Weaver House built in 1560, preserved many features from the 16th and 17th centuries while taking the visitor back to the 19th century living conditions of a Leiden weaver. A very nice docent gave a weaving demonstration on a 400 year old loom, and the historic building proved a great venue for an exhibiition of modern weaving.
From what we assumed was an informal club entrance to international poetry on the walls, the wall art was interesting. It challenged the intellec-tual and linguistic skills of the viewer while providing an aestheti-cally pleasing bonus.
The Molenmuseum “De Valk” presented a fascinating history of windmill in the Netherlands and a chance to view the inner workings of a grain mill. The one way tour fol-lowing steep, narrow, stairs/ladders was well worth the admission and the effort.
Unlike the busy canals of Amster-dam dominated by sight-seeing cruises, Leiden’s canals were quiet, more laid back and seemed to be used mostly for recreation and family outings. The motor cover of the launch was often used as a pic-nic table and set with food and drink for the outing.