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De Waag Leeuwarden.JPG
The Waag of Leeuwarden
Flag of Leeuwarden
Coat of arms of Leeuwarden
Coat of arms
Coordinates: 53°12′N 5°48′E / 53.2, 5.8Coordinates: 53°12′N 5°48′E / 53.2, 5.8
Country Netherlands
Province Friesland
 • Total 84.10 km2 (32.47 sq mi)
 • Land 79.74 km2 (30.79 sq mi)
 • Water 4.36 km2 (1.68 sq mi)
Population (1 December 2009)
 • Total 96,578
 • Density 1,100/km2 (3,000/sq mi)
  Source: CBS, Statline.
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Leeuwarden (pronounced [ˈleˑˌwɑrdə(n)]  (Speaker Icon.svg listen), Stadsfries: Liwwadden, Frisian: Ljouwert, pronounced [ˈʎɔːw(ə)t]) is the capital city of the Dutch province of Friesland. It is situated in the northern part of the country.


Beschrijving van Heerlijkheydt van Friesland door Bernardus Schotanus à Sterringa uitgegeven in 1664 leeuwarden

Historical map of Leeuwarden

Netherlands, Leeuwarden, map of 1866

Leeuwarden (municipality) in 1866.

The area has been occupied since the 10th century (although recently, remains of houses dating back to the 2nd century AD were discovered during a dig near the Oldehove), and was granted a town charter in 1435. Situated along the Middelzee, it was an active trade centre, until the waterway silted up in the 15th century. In 1901 the city had a population of 32,203.

Famous natives of Leeuwarden include stadtholder William IV of Orange, graphic artist M. C. Escher, and dancer-spy Mata Hari, as well as the theologian Dr. N.H. Gootjes.

Crowd welcoming the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders of Canada to Leeuwarden

Citizens of Leeuwarden welcoming units of the Canadian Army, 16 April 1945

During World War II, after extensive occupation by the German forces, on 15 April 1945, the Royal Canadian Dragoons, disobeying direct orders, charged into the heavily defended city and defeated the Germans, who were driven out by the next day.


The name "Leeuwarden" (or old spelling variants) first came into use for Nijehove, the most important one of the three villages that later merged into one, in the early 9th century (Villa Lintarwrde' c. 825).[1]

There is much uncertainty about the origin of the city's name. Historian and archivist Wopke Eekhoff summed up a total of over 200 different spelling variants, of which Leeuwarden (Dutch), Liwwadden (Stadsfries) and Ljouwert (West Frisian) are still in use.[2]

The second syllable is easily explained. "Warden", Frisian/Dutch for an artificial dwelling hill, is a designation of a few terps, in accordance with the historical situation.[2] The problem is the prefix, which could be interpreted as leeu- or 'leeuw-' (Dutch for lion). Some scholars believe the latter to be true, for a lion is also found in the city's coat of arms. For this to be so, however, an extra "w" would be required. Other scholars argue the name came from the prefix leeu-, a corruption of luw- (Dutch for sheltered) or lee- (a Dutch denotion of a water circulation). The last one suits the watery province of Fryslân.[2]


The coat of arms of Leeuwarden is the official symbol of the municipality of Leeuwarden. It consists of a blue escutcheon, a golden lion and a crown. The fact Leeuwarden carries a lion in its seal seems logical, considering that "Leeuw" is Dutch for "Lion". However, it is very plausible the oldest name of the city conceals an indication of water rather than an animal. Some sources tell the lion had been called into life after the name became official. It's also possible the coat of arms was a gift to the city from the powerful Minnema family.[3]

Population centresEdit

Dutch nameFrisian name2005 census


RM24233 Leeuwarden - Kelders 15

One of the canals of Leeuwarden

Leeuwarden - Voorstreek met Bonifatiustoren

Leeuwarden's historic centre with the tower of the church of St. Bonifatius



Achmeatoren 03

The Achmeatoren (115 metres tall)

Well-known buildings in the city centre include the Kanselarij (the former chancellery), the Stadhouderlijk hof, former residence of the stadtholders of Friesland, the Waag (old trade centre of the city), the church of St. Bonifatius and the leaning tower Oldehove. The tallest building in the city is the 115 metre tall Achmeatoren (Achmea insurance tower).

Leeuwarden is also the site of the country's largest cattle market, and on Ascension Day, the largest flower market in the Netherlands is held here. The Froskepôlemolen is the last surviving windmill of over 130 known to have stood in Leeuwarden. The remains of the Cammingha-Buurstermolen were demolished in 2000. The bases of two other windmills, Wielinga-Stam and De Haan also survive.[5]


Leeuwarden has a number of respected universities of applied science (HBO in Dutch), such as the Van Hall Instituut (agricultural and life sciences), the Stenden University(hotel management, economical and media management) and the Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden (economical, technical and arts).

Although the city has no scientific university, several dependencies are located here, including the Wageningen University, Universiteit Twente and the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. About 16,000 students, among them an increasing number of foreign students, study at technical schools. Besides higher education, the city is also home to two regional vocational schools (MBO): the Friese Poort and Friesland College.


Leeuwarden is the starting and finishing point for the celebrated Elfstedentocht, a 200 km-long speed skating race over the Frisian waterways that is held when winter conditions in the province allow. It last took place in January 1997, preceded by the races of 1986 and 1985. The city's local football team, Cambuur Leeuwarden plays in the Eerste Divisie. In the season 2005/06, the club narrowly escaped bankruptcy. Its Cambuurstadion opened in 1995. The football team has proposed plans for a new stadium in the east side of the city, which will cost €35 million.[6]


Leeuwarden, as capital of the province of Friesland, is seat of the provincial authorities.

Notable people from LeeuwardenEdit


Train routes with starting number of the train number series:

There are also bus lines:

  • 13 Leeuwarden -> Drachten/Steenwijk (Surhuisterveen, Harkema)
  • 14 Leeuwarden -> Drachten
  • 19 Leeuwarden -> Drachten (Hurdegaryp, Burgum, Suameer)
  • 20 Leeuwarden -> Heerenveen (Drachten)
  • 21 Leeuwarden -> Heerenveen (Drachten)
  • 22 Leeuwarden -> Warten
  • 28 Leeuwarden -> Heerenveen (Grou)
  • 50 Leeuwarden -> Dokkum
  • 51 Leeuwarden -> Dokkum (Damwoude)
  • 54 Leeuwarden -> Dokkum (Stiens,Holwerd)
  • 60 Leeuwarden -> Dokkum (Stiens,Holwerd)
  • 62 Leeuwarden -> Buitenpost (Kollum)
  • 66 Leeuwarden -> Ameland (Holwerd)
  • 70 Leeuwarden -> Sint Annaparochie (Minnertsga)
  • 71 Leeuwarden -> Harlingen (Minnertsga)
  • 72 Leeuwarden -> Sint Annaparochie (Minnertsga)
  • 73 Leeuwarden -> Oudebildtzijl (Minnertsga)
  • 93 Leeuwarden -> Sneek
  • 94 Leeuwarden -> Sneek
  • 95 Leeuwarden -> Joure
  • 97 Leeuwarden -> Harlingen (Franeker)
  • 320 Leeuwarden -> Drachten
  • 350 Leeuwarden -> Alkmaar
  • 513 Leeuwarden -> Drachten (Surhuisterveen)
  • 521 Leeuwarden -> Drachten

And there are citybuses. Most buslines are operated by Arriva and a few (line 10,13,14 and 320) are operated by Qbuzz

Sister citiesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Groot p. 10
  2. ^ a b c Groot p. 12
  3. ^ Jansma p. 45
  4. ^ "Dorpen per gemeente" (in Dutch, Frisian). Doarpswurk. 2005. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  5. ^ Stichting De Fryske Mole (1995) (in Dutch). Friese Molens. Leeuwarden: Friese Pers Boekerij bv. pp. 69–73, 181, 183, 253. ISBN 90-330-1522-6. 
  6. ^ "Nieuw stadion Cambuur kost €35 miljoen"

Further readingEdit

  • Groot, P.J. de, Karstkarel, G.P. & Kuipers, W.H., 1984. Leeuwarden, beeld van een stad. Zeven eeuwen stadsleven in woord en beeld. ISBN 90-330-1341-X. (Dutch)
  • Jansma, K., 1981. Friesland en zijn 44 gemeenten ISBN 90-6480-015-4. (Dutch)

External linksEdit

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