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Walking route 11 fountains: Leeuwarden

(4.0 km)

About the city walks
Leeuwarden can rightly be called a hidden gem, although the city has become quite well-known since it was voted European Capital of Culture. The city has a historic centre with beautiful alleys and streets, lovely shops, excellent restaurants, stunning graffiti art in surprising places and enough activities to keep you entertained for days on end. This 60-minute walking tour will take you past some of the hidden gems of this special city.

Easy navigation?
View the route in Google Maps

About the fountain
‘Love’ consists of two 7-metre high, white sculptur…

About the city walks
Leeuwarden can rightly be called a hidden gem, although the city has become quite well-known since it was voted European Capital of Culture. The city has a historic centre with beautiful alleys and streets, lovely shops, excellent restaurants, stunning graffiti art in surprising places and enough activities to keep you entertained for days on end. This 60-minute walking tour will take you past some of the hidden gems of this special city.

Easy navigation?
View the route in Google Maps

About the fountain
‘Love’ consists of two 7-metre high, white sculptures of a boy and a girl. They appear to look at each other, but their eyes are closed. The facial expression of the children is serene. Around them hangs a 2-metre-high cloud of mist we can wander around in. ‘They are dreaming’, says Plensa; ‘for children, the future is a dream full of promise.’ The Spanish artist got his inspiration for the fountain of mist when he saw the mist above the Frisian fields early in the morning. ‘In Friesland’, he says, ‘the water comes out of the ground.’

Sights on this route

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11Fountains Leeuwarden

Love’ consists of two 7 meter high, white sculptures of a boy and a girl. They seem to be looking at each other, but their eyes are closed.

11Fountains Leeuwarden
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Blokhuispoort

The Blokhuispoort is a cultural business-centre in the lively centre of Leeuwarden. Housed in a former prison, it is now full of creative initiatives, businesses, and pop-up shops- as well as eateries, a hostel, and a brand-new library.

Blokhuispoort
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Fletcher Hotel-Paleis Stadhouderlijk Hof

In the heart of Leeuwarden city centre, you will find the magnificent Fletcher Hotel-Paleis Stadhouderlijk Hof.

Fletcher Hotel-Paleis Stadhouderlijk Hof
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Natuurmuseum Fryslân (Frisian Museum of Natural History)

An interactive museum for the whole family to enjoy!

Natuurmuseum Fryslân (Frisian Museum of Natural History)
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Grote of Jacobijnerkerk

The Grote of Jacobijnerkerk is the oldest and, from an architectural point of view, the most important church in Leeuwarden.

Grote of Jacobijnerkerk
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De Koperen Tuin

Within the centre, amongst the city's waterways, sits the monumental city park: the Prinsentuin. Nothing less than the green heart of Leeuwarden. There are even two parking garages nearby, to make for a smooth arrival!

De Koperen Tuin
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Pier Pander Museum

The Prinsentuin, the beautiful city park on the edge of downtown Leeuwarden, houses the museum and temple dedicated to the Frisian sculptor Pier Pander (1864-1919).

Pier Pander Museum De Pier Pander Tempel in de Prinsentuin
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Oldehove

Temporarily closed

The Oldehove has been standing since 1529 and is leans even more than the Tower of Pisa! You can admire it from the inside as well as outside. The elevator, built in 2011, takes you to the first floor, and from there you will have to conquer the spiral staircase to the roof.

Oldehove
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The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics

In the middle of Leeuwarden's historic city centre stands the 18th-century city palace of Maria Louise van Hessen-Kassel, princess of Orange Nassau, ancestor of King Willem-Alexander. The world-famous M. C. Escher was also born in the same building.

The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics Keramiekmuseum Princessehof
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Writer's Block: Nieuwestad

Street art in Leeuwarden. Grote en kleine muren zijn het canvas van gerenommeerde Friese en internationale graffiti-kunstenaars. Aan het begin van de Nieuwestad vind je het werk van Five8 & Earthcrusher.

Writer's Block: Nieuwestad
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Writer's Block: Haniasteeg

Street art in Leeuwarden. Grote en kleine muren zijn het canvas van gerenommeerde Friese en internationale graffiti-kunstenaars. In de Haniasteeg vind je het werk van Fake Stencils, Kenny Cookwell en Twitch.

Writer's Block: Haniasteeg
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Stadsschouwburg De Harmonie

Stadsschouwburg De Harmonie is a prominent theatre in the north of the Netherlands. Every year, about 830 performances, events and other activities take place here. Please visit www.harmonie.nl for more information ans all performances.

Stadsschouwburg De Harmonie De Harmonie Leeuwarden
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Writer's Block: Harmonie

Street art in Leeuwarden. Grote en kleine muren zijn het canvas van gerenommeerde Friese en internationale graffiti-kunstenaars. Op het gebouw van Stadsschouwburg De Harmonie vind je het werk van Colorblind & B-Art & Nash.

Writer's Block: Harmonie
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Fries Museum

Discover the Frisian in yourself at the Fries Museum! Here you will discover all about the eleven cities and the countryside, the love-hate relationship with water, the search for the typically Frisian and Friesland's place in the world

Fries Museum
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11Fountains Leeuwarden

Love’ consists of two 7 meter high, white sculptures of a boy and a girl. They seem to be looking at each other, but their eyes are closed.

11Fountains Leeuwarden

Directions

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11Fountains Leeuwarden

Love’ consists of two 7 meter high, white sculptures of a boy and a girl. They seem to be looking at each other, but their eyes are closed.

11Fountains Leeuwarden

How the people from Leeuwarden dream...

The route through Leeuwarden starts at the imposing LOVE fountain on the square Stationsplein. Two heads, standing 7 metres tall, enveloped in mist, symbolise how children dream about their future. The mist is inspired by the dew that artist Jaume Plensa saw on the fields in Friesland.

Walk north from Stationsplein, down the street Sophialaan. Turn left before the canal, into Willemskade. Here, stately mansions and beautiful boats add to the charm of this area. At Zuiderplein, cross the canal, turn into Beursplein with its historic Mercury Fountain, then follow the canal to the former prison Blokhuispoort. Up till a few years ago, the inmates of this centuries-old prison could only dream of a way out, but in the last few years it has become an open breeding ground for creativity. The original elements of the 16th century prison can be seen everywhere. Artists now work in the cells, and in the wings around you will find the brand-new Leeuwarden library, an excellent restaurant (with a waterfront terrace) and a lunch café.

From the Blokhuispoort, walk further north, through Druifstreek, then turn left into Oosterstraat. A narrow street with some unique shops. At the end of this street, follow the canal to the right. At the second bridge, cross the canal and walk past the statue of Mata Hari, the famous dancer who in the First World War dared to dream of exciting adventures and, with her sensual movements, worked as a spy. She was born in Leeuwarden as Margaretha Zelle, here in the house at number 13.

Turn around and cross the bridge De Brol. Take the first street on your left, Naauw. Here, the canal is so narrow that people used to jump over it. If you keep walking, you end up in the main street of Leeuwarden, but for now, we turn right, into Sint Jacobsstraat. Don’t forget to look up to admire the beautiful façades. At the end of Sint Jacobsstraat, on your right, there is the lively Gouverneursplein. On your left is Hofplein, where you can find the old Stadhouderlijk Hof, a city palace that was owned by the royal family until 1971. Nowadays, a hotel is housed in the building. Opposite it, you will find the stately City Hall and further on the Wilhelmina tree, with its cast iron fence adorned with little oranges. 

We turn into Beijerstraat, which goes up. At the end, we turn right, into Grote Kerkstraat. There, an old cobblestone street takes you to the church Grote Kerk. On your left, at A.S. Levissonstraat, you will find the Jewish Monument and the Jewish school. Walk through this street to the houses further on, that are hidden behind the trees. There, you can catch a glimpse of a court of alms houses that takes you back in time a hundred years. Poor widows used to live here, and nowadays it provides independent living for senior residents.

If you follow the A.S. Levissonstraat again, you will reach a square with the Nature Museum and the historic Sint Anthony Guesthouse. Both are beautiful buildings, which are absolutely worth seeing. We turn right, to go to Prinsentuin, but you can also walk straight ahead for a bit, to admire the gorgeous garden of the guesthouse.

You will find the street Prinsentuin on the other side of the road Groeneweg, after the Nature Museum. This ‘green heart’ of Leeuwarden, once a park of William Frederik, prince of Nassau, is now a public park with a marina that was voted the most beautiful marina in the Netherlands in 2019. In summer, the marina will be full of boats and the quayside will be brimming with people. Follow the path along the canal, which leads all the way to the west side of the city centre, to the tower Oldehove. The Frisians dreamt of building the tallest church tower in the north, but the ground turned out to be too soft and the tower began to sink and tilt. It resulted in a tower that leans even more than the Tower of Pisa. When the tower is open, you can walk all the way up the spiral staircase to enjoy a view of the city.  

Cross the square to Kleine Kerkstraat, named the nicest shopping street in the Netherlands several times. Here you can stroll around the lovely boutiques and delis. At the end of the street, you reach the canal in the city centre, with plenty of restaurants and cafés with outside seating areas. Cross the canal and turn right. Wolvesteeg takes you to Haniasteeg, with its wonderful graffiti murals by Dutch and international artists. Colourful political statements from artists dreaming of a better future. These monumental works can be found in more places in the city and they are very dear to the people from Leeuwarden.

The alley leads to Ruiterskwartier, which has been renovated in recent years. Turn left at Prins Hendrikstraat, past the Gerechtsgebouw (courthouse)and Wilhelminaplein square, where you will find the hyper-modern Fries Museum. On Fridays there is a very lively market on this square, but on all other days children play in its fountains. When you walk straight ahead, you will find yourself back where you started the route. All restaurants and cafés in Leeuwarden can be found here.

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11Fountains Leeuwarden

Love’ consists of two 7 meter high, white sculptures of a boy and a girl. They seem to be looking at each other, but their eyes are closed.

11Fountains Leeuwarden
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