City in South Holland province, the Netherlands, on the Oude Rijn River, 10 km/6 mi from the North Sea, and 27 km/17 mi north of Rotterdam; population (2006 est) 118,100. Industries include textiles and cigars. It has been a printing centre since 1580, with a university established in 1575. It is linked by canal to Haarlem, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam. The painters Rembrandt and Jan Steen were born here.
Industries Leiden's weaving industries were very important at the end of the 15th century, and Leiden baize and Leiden cloth were familiar terms. Today linen and woollen textiles are the most important; there is also a trade in butter and cheese, and the town is a centre of the bulb-growing industry.
Features Leiden was founded in 1575 as a reward to local inhabitants for their courageous defence against the Spaniards in 1574. It had for a long time one of the most famous schools of Europe, numbering among its professors Hugo Grotius. Connected with the university are a library containing over 200,000 volumes and important oriental and Greek manuscripts; the botanic garden (1587); the observatory (1860); the museum of natural history; and the National Museum of Antiquities. The 14th-century Church of St Peter contains the tomb of John Robinson, who was pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers.
Many famous Dutch painters, among them Jan Steen, Lucas Van Leyden, and Rembrandt were born in Leiden, and the Lakenhal municipal museum contains a large collection of their works.