Leiden (pronounced LIE-den) played an important part in both Dutch and U.S. history. For the Dutch, it is the proud city that withstood Spanish attack in 1574; for U.S. citizens, it is where the pilgrims lived before they ventured to Plymouth Rock.
Today, Leiden is a colorful city with a number of superb museums, including the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (national antiquities) and the Stedelijk Museum de Lakenhal (history of the city). The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum displays photocopies of documents detailing the pilgrims' 11-year stay in the city.
The city's biggest annual celebration, held 3 October, marks the end of the Spanish siege. (The siege ended when William of Orange flooded the province, sailed up to the city gates and drove out the Spanish.) Leiden is 25 mi/40 km southwest of Amsterdam.
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