Leeuwarden is the capital of the province of Friesland. It is home to about 90,000 people. Within the Netherlands it is famous as the starting point as well as the finish for the skating marathon through eleven Frisian cities which takes place on colder winters on the frozen canals. Last century, the race was held fifteen times.
The city received the town charter in 1435 and prospered in the 15th and the 16th centuries. The historical centre is surrounded by canals originally dug for defense purposes. In the 19th century the city expanded outside the network of canals. Principal buildings in the city centre with a history include the leaning tower of Oldehove, the Chancellery, the Court of the Stadtholders and the Weighing-house. Leeuwarden forms the only really urban area in the otherwise sparsely populated province, therefore being regionally important.
Leeuwarden is surrounded by tranquil countryside and rivers, and the area around the city contains many historical country estates, set in beautiful villages full of character. The area is easily explored by bike or car. Leeuwarden is approximately 2,5 hours from Amsterdam by train.
Recommended castle route
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