Van der Werff park
At the end of the street from st.PIERRE is the Van der Werff Park. An oasis of calm and a perfect place to relax and recharge your batteries. It’s the ideal environment in which to enjoy a good book or a pleasant picnic on the grass. It is the result of the explosion of a gunpowder-laden ship in 1807, which destroyed nearly all buildings in a 60 meter radius.
Where buildings stood, on one side of the canal a park was build and on the other side the famous Kamerlingh Onnes Physics Laboratory was build, which now houses the law faculty. In front of the faculty a memorial stone was placed on the quay where the ship once lay moored, which can be seen from the park. The park owes its name to the mayor of Leiden at the time of the Relief of Leiden, Van der Werff, whose statues features in the centre of the park.
On the Rapenburg, just on the other side of the Pieterschurch, is the entrance to the Botanical gardens. The 'Hortus botanicus' is the oldest botanical garden in The Netherlands.
The oldest section of the Hortus, dating back to 1590, is the current Front Garden. It has been renovated with new plants and in 2000, a new glasshouse was added to form the Winter Garden. The Clusius Garden gives an impression of what the Hortus was like around 1600, when the bonds between the Netherlands and Asia were formed. The exchange of plants and knowledge between these cultures can be seen in the Japanese Garden. The Hortus’ pride, Victoria amazonica, can be admired in the Victoria Glasshouse.
On the canals
After Amsterdam, Leiden is the city with the most canals. and an excellent way to see Leiden is from the water. Leiden’s canals flow past the museums, the almshouses and the city’s many historic buildings, all with their imposing façades. You will also find many delightful cafés and restaurants lining Leiden’s canals, many with terraces directly on the water. The Leiden city cruises are a good choice, but if you prefer, you can also rent a boat.
Leiden is also a good starting point for many daytrips in the area. The Kaag and Braassemmermeer are very close by and you can also travel by boat to towns like Katwijk, Delft and even Rotterdam.