Heritage open days Leiden


Open Monumentendagen 2016 (Heritage Days) in the weekend of 10th and 11th September highlight Icons and Symbols which refer to statues and signs with a special extra layer that exceeds itself. You see them everywhere in monuments: inside and outside, in ornaments, reliefs and in paintings. Monuments themselves may have iconic value in the skyline of the city, such as church towers, wind mills, city halls and castles.

The more you look the more you can see /

This year, in Leiden, city of discoveries, we invite you to discover symbols and icons. Look at the selection we have made from more than three thousand state and city monuments. We hope that you will be as amazed as we are by the multifaceted imagery to be found in our city.

We have chosen 39 buildings decorated with symbols and icons of ‘Justice and Power’, ‘Faith and Charity’ and ‘Science, Art and Architecture’. This imagery on the walls, roofs and interiors of the buildings, is mainly intended to underline the status, importance and wealth of the public bodies and companies established there.

The symbols could also be ‘read’ and understood by the many uneducated and illiterate residents who lived in Leiden as late as the twentieth century. The lions holding shields portraying the Leiden coat of arms, the symbol of Justice with her sword and scales, all of these indicate the function of the buildings on which they can be seen. This year’s theme gives us an opportunity to look in a different way at the many symbols to be found in and on buildings in Leiden: stone plaques, signboards, sculpted heads, lions, coats of arms and ma- sons’ marks. Once they have been brought to your attention you see them everywhere. 

Discover the secrets of the Oostenrijk wall tower, seize your last chance to see the Huishoud- en Nij- verheidsschool. And perhaps you have always wanted to know what Multatuli wrote about P.J. Veth? Visit the Nonnensteeg. Visit the places of prayer and see their symbolism: the dove for the Holy Spirit, the Lutheran swan, the Andalusian star on the Islamic Centre Imam Malik, the square and compasses of the Freemasons. And, last but not least, the all-seeing eye on the Coeliekerk, the Hartebrugkerk which houses in its catacombs the least-known museum in Leiden: Museum Greccio. 

2016 is the 29th. year that we have organised the Heritage Days. Without the help of the buildings’ owners, grant-givers, sponsors and experts this would not have been possible. And, of course, we are very grateful to the more than two hundred volunteers for their indispensable work. 

On behalf of the Board of the Stichting Open Monumentendagen Leiden we would like to express our sincere thanks to all those who freely gave their time and expertise to make this possible.

Alexander C. Geertsema / Chair Stichting Open Monumentendagen Leiden