I made my song a coat … out of old mythologies

I was returning to the railway station after a successful day wandering the streets of Leiden when I noticed, painted high on a wall, William Butler Yeats’ poem, A Coat. After an afternoon exploring the ancient lanes and alleyways of this historic city the lines, “I made my song a coat, Covered with embroideries, Out of old mythologies, From heel to throat”, struck a resonant note.

Houses and canal, Leiden, Netherlands

Houses and canal, Leiden, Netherlands

Sign for a bar, Leiden, Netherlands

Sign for a bar, Leiden, Netherlands

Molen de Put, Leiden, Netherlands

Molen de Put, Leiden, Netherlands

Floating restaurant, Leiden, Netherlands

Floating restaurant, Leiden, Netherlands

This wasn’t the first piece of literature I’d seen painted on buildings. Perhaps fitting for a city renowned for learning, and teeming with students, there are literary quotations on walls scattered all across Leiden. It’s fun to walk around spotting Leiden’s ‘Wall Poems’, I came across five or six including poems from William Shakespeare and Syrian poet, Adonis. Enough to brighten any stroll as you explore the winding streets and broad canals.

Shakespeares Sonnet XXX on a wall in Leiden, Netherlands

Shakespeares Sonnet XXX on a wall in Leiden, Netherlands

Loss by Syrian poet Adonis on a wall in Leiden, Netherlands

Loss by Syrian poet Adonis on a wall in Leiden, Netherlands

Pop up restaurant, Leiden, Netherlands

Pop up restaurant, Leiden, Netherlands

Houses, Leiden, Netherlands

Houses, Leiden, Netherlands

Mackerel in the market, Leiden, Netherlands

Mackerel in the market, Leiden, Netherlands

Not that this city needs a lot of brightening. When I wasn’t passing down some ancient and narrow passage, probably used by pedestrians for hundreds of years, I was elbowing my way along streets crowded with people and extraordinary sights. All this activity was rewarded at the end of the day with a delicious Belgian beer in one of Leiden’s oldest bars, the Café de Bonte Koe (the Colourful Cow). If you find yourself in Leiden, don’t miss out on a visit to de Bonte Koe.

Women role playing in a shop window, Leiden, Netherlands

Women role playing in a shop window, Leiden, Netherlands

Coffee urn, Leiden, Netherlands

Coffee urn, Leiden, Netherlands

Mackerel in the market, Leiden, Netherlands

Mackerel in the market, Leiden, Netherlands

Music maker, Leiden, Netherlands

Music maker, Leiden, Netherlands

Whether it was the three people sat in a shop window playing out an 18th Century tea party (quite an odd sight); golden mackerel in the local market; crowds of people passing a warm day on a floating restaurant on one of the many canals; or an old music box on wheels playing a tune on a street corner, Leiden seemed to be going out of its way to entertain.

Stained glass window in Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Stained glass window in Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Old doorway, Leiden, Netherlands

Old doorway, Leiden, Netherlands

Bunting and bikes, Leiden, Netherlands

Bunting and bikes, Leiden, Netherlands

Yeats's poem high on a wall, Leiden, Netherlands

Yeats’s poem high on a wall, Leiden, Netherlands

“But now we are all, in all places, strangers and pilgrims, travellers and sojourners”

The City of Leiden has seen turbulent times and been a place of refuge for those fleeing turbulence. No more so than at the turn of the 16th and 17th Centuries. Wars were constantly raging across Europe; many driven by dynastic ambition, but many driven by religion. The established Catholic hegemony was being overturned by the Reformation sparked by Martin Luther, John Calvin and many other Protestant ‘Reformers’ in the early 16th Century. The predictable result was war and persecution.

St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Memorial to the Pilgrim Fathers, St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Memorial to the Pilgrim Fathers, St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

When Luther nailed The Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg in 1517, it marked the start of a new and bloody era of religious conflict. What Luther, Calvin and the English Puritans who turned up in Leiden seeking refuge wouldn’t have suspected was that, one day, one of their churches would house a funfair and a photographic exhibition featuring nudity. I looked but couldn’t find any money lenders.

St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Funfair in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Funfair in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Leiden’s St.Pieterskerk is best known today as the church of the Pilgrim Fathers. In the area around it John Robinson’s group of English Puritans settled before they left Europe to found Plymouth Colony and establish New England. Robinson never made the trip to Massachusetts, he died in Leiden and is buried in St. Pieterskerk. I’m sure he’d be appalled that the church he knew so well was deconsecrated in the 1970s.

What he would have thought of the funfair we’ll never know. I suspect he’d have been secretly delighted. I was.

Memorial to John Robinson, St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Memorial to John Robinson, St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Medieval hopscotch? St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Medieval hopscotch? St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

The connection between the Protestant nations and their religious and colonial history is everywhere in Leiden. The city became a hotbed of religious debate and was a tolerant sanctuary for Protestants fleeing persecution: the Huguenots from France, Puritans from England. Both nations were influential in the early development of European colonialisation in North America: New Netherlands and New England; New Amsterdam became New York.

It was to Leiden in 1609 that around 300 English religious dissidents fled hoping to live free from religious persecution. England was a Protestant country but many Puritans believed the Church of England, under the control of the monarch, had not been sufficiently reformed of its Catholic tendencies.

Organ in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Organ in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Grave in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Grave in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

The English Church and Crown viewed these religious fundamentalists as a threat to the peace and stability. They had a point: England was a country coming to terms with a period of bitter religious persecution and bloodshed, and facing the very real threat of invasion and destruction from Catholic Spain.

Fearing the Spanish, the superpower of the age, England and the Netherlands regularly found common cause to protect their religion and sovereignty. They also regularly attacked Spanish ships returning from the Americas laden with stolen Inca, Maya and Aztec gold. While Spain sought to suppress Protestantism, it was also protecting its ‘trade’ with the Americas. A right granted to Spain by the Pope, an authority neither England or the Netherlands recognised.

Grave stone in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Grave stone in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Grave in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

Grave in St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

From Robinson’s Puritans were drawn the Pilgrim Fathers who in 1620 sailed via England to found Plymouth Colony.

What is so extraordinary about this group of people is just how influential their gene pool has been throughout American history. Four US Presidents can claim their lineage to this group of English religious dissidents: Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Bush Sr., George Bush Jr. and current President, Barack Obama. More disturbing than this, much, much more disturbing, is the fact that Presidents Bush Sr. and Jr. share the same common ancestor as President Barack Obama.

St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

St. Pieterskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

These three Presidents trace their lineage to an English family, the Blossoms, originally from Little Shelford, Cambridgeshire. Thomas Blossom and his wife Anne settled in Leiden in 1609; they left for the New World from Delfshaven in 1620 on the Speedwell which was to join the Mayflower in Plymouth, England before sailing onwards. The Speedwell proved unseaworthy and the Blossoms were forced back to Leiden. They finally made it to New England in 1629 – luckily for at least three American Presidents.

Seriously America. Three Presidents related to a bloke from Cambridgeshire. It’s just not right. Sort it out…and someone double-check that Hilary isn’t also related.

Siege, famine and a wealth of history in beautiful Leiden

Leiden’s history is all incident and intrigue. Ancient battles were fought here, legendary thinkers and artists lived here, it was a global centre of trade, and the ghosts of Pilgrim Fathers and religious refugees still haunt the streets. History only tells you so much about a place though, and Leiden is so much more than just its dramatic history.

Oude Vest, Leiden, Netherlands

Oude Vest, Leiden, Netherlands

Catholic Church, Leiden, Netherlands

Catholic Church, Leiden, Netherlands

I had no expectation of Leiden when I got off the train at the city’s modern railway station, but it’s a beautiful, vibrant place with a selection of great bars and restaurants, museums and galleries. Well worth exploring and re-exploring (I’ve been back three times already). Walking south-east you quickly find yourself among ancient alleyways, crisscrossed by canals and overshadowed by three- and four-storey traditional buildings.

Leiden is quintessentially Dutch, with a grandeur close to matching Amsterdam. Which makes it all the more remarkable that it is largely a tourist free zone. Compensating for the lack of bewildered, map carrying day trippers doing battle with irritated cyclists, the streets are instead a haunt for the city’s students. Leiden has a population of around 120,000, of which 20,000 are students…every fifth person you see is a student. That must be some sort of record?

Houses overlooking the Oude Rijn, Leiden, Netherlands

Houses overlooking the Oude Rijn, Leiden, Netherlands

Cyclist, Leiden, Netherlands

Cyclist, Leiden, Netherlands

Molen de Put, Leiden, Netherlands

Molen de Put, Leiden, Netherlands

Apart from cluttering up the place, especially on a Saturday afternoon in summer, the students give Leiden a youthful vibe that makes it stand out from most other places I’ve visited in the Netherlands. Away from the main drag though, wandering narrow cobbled streets, you could think yourself transported back in time.

House on the Oude Vest, Leiden, Netherlands

House on the Oude Vest, Leiden, Netherlands

Canal and the University of Leiden building, Leiden, Netherlands

Canal and the University of Leiden building, Leiden, Netherlands

Boats and canal, Leiden, Netherlands

Boats and canal, Leiden, Netherlands

Leiden can lay claim to many things, but it is the university that defines it. Founded in 1575, the oldest in the Netherlands, over the centuries it has been home to some of Europe’s most important thinkers, including sixteen Nobel Prize winners. René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Hugo Grotius (founder of international law), Albert Einstein and a cohort of renowned Physicists, including Paul Ehrenfest and Enrico Fermi, all attend this ancient institution. Even John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, was here.

Narrow house, Leiden, Netherlands

Narrow house, Leiden, Netherlands

Wonky door, Leiden, Netherlands

Wonky door, Leiden, Netherlands

The stellar gallery of alumni isn’t the most extraordinary thing about Leiden University though. That honour goes to the way it came to be founded. The university was given to Leiden as a reward for withstanding a brutal and bitter siege and famine during the Dutch struggle for independence from the Spanish. Europe didn’t do wars by halves in the 16th Century; Leiden’s siege was one of many that took place during the 80 Years War.

The Self-Sacrifice of Mayor Pieter van den Werf by Matthijs van Bree, 1817

The Self-Sacrifice of Mayor Pieter van den Werf by Matthijs van Bree, 1817

The Self-Sacrifice of Mayor Pieter van den Werf by Matthijs van Bree, 1817

The Self-Sacrifice of Mayor Pieter van den Werf by Matthijs van Bree, 1817

The Siege of Leiden began in October 1573 and, although it was lifted briefly in April 1574, only ended in October 1575. A level of suffering had been inflicted upon the population that defeats description. After months of siege with little or no food, conditions in the city were squalid verging on the pestilential. Thousands died as relief ships battled both the Spanish and the dykes of the surrounding countryside. The population clamoured for surrender.

Liberty - Plague and Famine During the Siege of Leiden by Erwin Olaf, 2011

Liberty – Plague and Famine During the Siege of Leiden by Erwin Olaf, 2011

A turning point, immortalised in Dutch art and literature, came when the Mayor of Leiden offered his own flesh as food for the population. In reality, fear of the Spanish probably prevented most from surrendering. Only months earlier the Spanish had slaughtered the population of Naarden as a warning to the rebellious Dutch. The same fate would almost certainly have awaited the good people of Leiden.

St. Pancraskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

St. Pancraskerk, Leiden, Netherlands

These were turbulent times. The new Protestant religion was viewed as heresy by the Catholic Church, which resolved to eradicate it. The French and Spanish did their best to oblige, but the lifting of the Siege of Leiden was a defining moment in the long slow decline in Spanish power. This defeat against the Calvinist Dutch proved to be permanent; confirmed a few years later when, in 1588, the Spanish Armada was destroyed by Protestant England. Europe’s religion and centres of power were changing.

Food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Cheese at the food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Cheese at the food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Walking these streets today, Leiden’s history is writ large and you’re confronted with it at almost every turn. After all this is the birthplace of Rembrandt and is a city that attracted the most famous artists of the Dutch Golden Age. It is also where the first tulip to be seen in the Netherlands was cultivated and grown. An event which sparked a global craze for the flower, which traded for prices above that of gold and silver, and which would come to be one of the most recognisable symbols of Dutchness.

Food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Morcilla sandwich at the food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Morcilla sandwich at the food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Tapas at the food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Tapas at the food market, Leiden, Netherlands

Don’t think of Leiden as a living museum though, it has a visible and youthful pulse. The many street-side cafes and floating restaurants are crowded with people on a Saturday. There is a thriving traditional food market, and I was lucky enough to wander into a gastro-food market in a square near the Pieterskerk. Seriously good food was on offer. I’ll definitely be visiting again.

The Fijnschilder of Leiden, art from the Golden Age

Amidst a selection of 15th and 16th Century religious art, Lucas van Leyden’s The Final Judgement is a charming piece to start a tour of Leiden’s Lakenhal museum. Completed in 1526-7, this ghastly allegorical triptych is full of terrified people being brutalised by all of Hell’s demons on Judgement Day. To get the full effect, you have to imagine the painting being opened to an unsuspecting audience to reveal it’s terrifying interior.

Off to one side the saved (some of whom are definitely looking a bit smug) are being herded away from scenes of carnage. The damned are being dragged kicking and screaming by diabolical creatures into the fiery pits of Hell – or in this case what looks like a huge fish/dog hybrid. They didn’t lack for overactive imaginations in the 16th Century.

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

One thing is certain, religious art of this nature was intended to induce terror in a largely uneducated, superstitious and already fearful population. I imagine it succeeded. In a world without science to explain natural phenomena the supernatural was very real in people’s minds. It hardly seems fair of religious authorities to terrorise people with the art of damnation as well. Ironically, come the Reformation, these Catholic paintings themselves had to be saved from Protestant iconoclasts.

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Final Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Crucifixion by Cornelis Engebrechtsz, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Crucifixion by Cornelis Engebrechtsz, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Lamentation of Christ by Cornelis Engebrechtsz, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Lamentation of Christ by Cornelis Engebrechtsz, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Lakenhal is home to Leiden’s finest art collection, and the building itself has to be included as one of the artworks. Formerly the Cloth Hall where Leiden’s world famous (in the 17th Century) textiles were inspected and valued, it opened in 1640 and became a museum just over 200 years later. It now houses a wonderful selection of art from the Dutch Golden Age, including works from Leiden’s 17th Century Fijnschilder school of fine artists.

Old Woman Reading a Book by Jan Lievans, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Old Woman Reading a Book by Jan Lievans, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Luxurious Still Life by Pieter de Ring, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Luxurious Still Life by Pieter de Ring, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

During the Dutch Golden Age the arts flourished. Under the patronage of wealthy merchants and noblemen, Leiden nurtured the talents of Rembrandt van Rijn (or Rembrandt as we know him). Here Rembrandt worked alongside other influential artists like Jan Lievens and Jan van Goyen, although all three were to leave the city in the 1630s due to political unrest. Art and politics intertwined as ever.

They were to be replaced by the Fijnschilders led by Gerrit Dou, who had studied under Rembrandt before evolving his own distinctive style. He painted small scenes from daily life, rendered in fine brush strokes and extraordinary detail to produce a very smooth finish.

Herring Seller and Boy, by Gerrir Dou, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Herring Seller and Boy, by Gerrir Dou, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Housemaid with Oil Lamp by Gerrit Dou, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Housemaid with Oil Lamp by Gerrit Dou, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

What is fascinating about many of these paintings is how risque they are; some are bawdy and some explicitly sexual. Not what you’d expect from a staunchly Calvinist bunch. I particularly like Jan Steen’s works; his paintings depict scenes from daily life that are full of intrigue and fun. Not one to shy away from the sexual, his The Indecent Proposal is loaded with sexual meaning, featuring a provocative baguette and a large cleavage.

The Quack by Jan Steen, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Quack by Jan Steen, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Merry Couple by Jan Steen, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Luxurious Still Life by Pieter de Ring, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Inappropriate Proposal by Jan Steen, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Inappropriate Proposal by Jan Steen, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

Given Rembrandt’s association with Leiden – he was born and lived here – the museum doesn’t have many of his paintings. The Lakenhal only came into possession of its first Rembrandt in 2012. Today, two works are ascribed definitively to him: one a historical piece in which he painted himself into the background; the other, the wonderful Brillenverkoper (The Spectacles Seller). This small painting is Rembrandt’s earliest known work, and is full of colour and humour.

The Spectacles Seller by Rembrandt, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Spectacles Seller by Rembrandt, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Robed Violinist by Jan Steen, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The Robed Violinist by Jan Steen, Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

The concentration of artistic talent in Leiden during the 17th Century didn’t come about by chance. The flourishing of the arts coincided with Leiden’s economic expansion and population growth. It became a boom town for the cloth trade and grew to be the most important and modern textile centre in Europe. Leiden became a byword for the highest quality fabrics across the ‘known’ world.

Spinning, Shaving the Chain and Weaving by Isaac Claesz. of Swanenburg, Lakenhal, Leiden

Spinning, Shaving the Chain and Weaving by Isaac Claesz. of Swanenburg, Lakenhal, Leiden

The Ploten and Combs by Isaac Claesz. of Swanenburg, Lakenhal, Leiden

The Ploten and Combs by Isaac Claesz. of Swanenburg, Lakenhal, Leiden

In the Lakenhal cloth was inspected for its quality and consistency, something critical to cementing Leiden’s textile reputation. Leiden cloth was known both in the Americas and in China, and the artistry and skill of Leiden’s weavers was in as much demand as that of its painters. No surprise that the two overlapped, the Lakenhal has several wonderful paintings depicting the cloth trade.

To learn more about the Lakenhall Museum and its collection visit lakenhal.nl/en

De Valk, life in a Dutch windmill

Windmills, simultaneously iconic and anachronistic, hold a powerful fascination. The De Valk (The Falcon) windmill in Leiden is a survivor. There were once nineteen windmills built on city walls of Leiden, grinding corn to feed the population, and De Valk is the only one to have made it into the modern age. Now a well preserved and informative museum, it is also the only windmill in the Netherlands to retain the original miller’s residence from the 19th Century.

De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

That it survived this long is something of an achievement. Built on the Valkenburger Rampart of the city walls, from where it gets it’s name, De Valk was originally constructed as a much simpler wooden ‘post’ mill around 1611. In 1667 it was pulled down and replaced with a bigger eight-sided ‘smock’ mill. Less than a century later in 1743 it was replaced again by the present brick-built ‘tower’ mill. Remarkably it took only two months to complete this final construction of De Valk.

Living room, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Living room, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Living room, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Living room, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Windmill painting, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Windmill painting, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Kitchen, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Kitchen, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

As you walk around the building, you really are walking through four hundred years of history. The 1743 version of De Valk is big, inside and out. The base is 29 metres high; the top part above the wooden Reefing Stage platform another 14 metres; and the sails are 27 metres in length. Until 1869 this wasn’t just a corn mill capable of producing 1280 kg of flour daily – enough to feed 8000 people – it was also home to two families. There are nine floors, the bottom two given over to living quarters.

Stairs, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Stairs, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Flour sales board, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Flour sales board, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Climbing up the stairs out of the ground floor kitchen, the first floor was where the bedrooms would have been, but is now houses an audio-visual show. The higher you get in a windmill the rooms become increasingly narrow (and a little claustrophobic) and the stairs become ever steeper until, close to the top, they are almost vertical. In a functioning mill the millers would have had to go up and down these stairs dozens of times a day as the corn was ground – I don’t envy them that.

Flour chute, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Flour chute, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Steering wheel, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Steering wheel, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Above the first floor De Valk transforms itself from comfy home into a factory. When the sails of a windmill are going they generate a lot of noise and vibration; add to that the sound of grinding machinery and this cheek by jowl existence must have made for very noisy living arrangements.

The milling floor has a large chute in the middle, down which came the ground flour to be weighed and bagged. This is also the level where you can go out onto the Reefing Stage where the miller would have controlled the sails, changing their direction using the large wheel and adding or removing cloth from the sails depending upon how strong the wind was blowing. Today, you get panoramic views over Leiden.

Grinding stones, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Grinding stones, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Milling tools, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Milling tools, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Milling tools, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Milling tools, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Higher still are the grinding floors which are full of milling stones, ropes and pulleys, and all manner of old equipment. The very top floor is the smallest in the building, with some tiny windows providing a little light. It’s only at this point that the reality of going back down hits you. Looking down the very steep and narrow stairs is vertigo inducing…

Stairs, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

Steering wheel, De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands

De Valk windmill, Leiden, Netherlands