I was very young when I first learn about Leiden. I learned it, perhaps, from my father or one of my uncle who told me that my grandfather used to study Law in that town. To my 5 year old self it just sounded something like my grandfather, at some point when he was young, went to a far away place – but not too far from where I was born – to study something called Law.
Leiden came up every now and then in school studies about Indonesian figures like Soewardi Soerjaningrat and many others who at some point in their lifetime went, studied and/or ‘berkumpul’ there. So, growing up I learned that in many ways Leiden is quite an important intellectual breeding ground in shaping Indonesia in the 19th Century.
Many years later I came and visit the town for the first time. With a friend I stroll along the town and canals of this university town. I had a nice impression learning that the town has wide range and depth of knowledge resources, not only at the University but also spread about town in a format of research centre like : http://www.trc-leiden.nl/ and http://kitlv.nl/. Leiden also is a home for many important material object such as collections from ancient times at Rijksmuseum van Oudheden. Sometime last year I was lucky that I was in town when the ancient city Petra exhibition was on (Hint: Indiana Jones). Other materials objects which has relation to Indonesian history and its colonial times is Museum of World Cultures/ Museum van Wereldculturen (recent integration of three museum: Afrika Museum, Tropenmuseum and Museum Volkenkunde).
Leiden isn’t always a university/ intellectual town though, as one colleague who now works at De Lakenhal Museum explained to me, in the 17th Century the town thrived as an important textile industry in Europe. De Lakenhal building that is now a museum was once the centre of trade for textile goods. Today, the building is in restoration and adding an extension wing for extra exhibition space. She said the restoration will bring the building back to its peak of grandeur of the 17th Century, removing all the silly glass and metal construction for its cafe area. I am very looking forward to see how the restoration turns up in 2017.
One of the town monument in Leiden that made an impression on me is Burcht van Leiden. I went there almost sunset just after the rain. Once I reached up, the sun just begun to set and there were rainbows (yay). It is also a nice place to have a surrounding bird view of Leiden.
I also found an antique shop which I find rather special because the shop itself used to be a house of somewhat important person (I don’t know who) but I can tell because it stretches to the other side of parallel street and it has a grand dining room, and the shop sells things that were once in it as is. I have to look through my photo files for these photos I share with you, which makes me realise I have to think about organising my photos soon before I mixed up what happens when and where (!).
All in all, so far I find Leiden a nice town, I particularly like the intellectual environment there.