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Leeuwarden European Capital of Culture 2018

Dare to dream. Dare to act. Dare to be different.

This is what Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 is about. A story of welcoming, investigating new options and making connections with worlds that you do not yet know. A story of building together on an environment that is a bit better than today and yesterday. Even after 2018. With head held high and an outstretched hand, we show ourselves to the rest of the world on behalf of the Netherlands.


Friesland in Lonely Planet's Top 3 'Best in Europe 2018
Fascinating Friesland in five minutes by Greg Shapiro
Learn the basics of Frisian in a few weeks with the Frisian Massive Open Online Course.
'Beschrijving van Heerlijkheydt van Friesland' by Bernardus Schotanus à Sterringa (1664)

Welcome to Leeuwarden

We would like to welcome you to the city of Leeuwarden: European Capital of Culture in the year 2018 and still a beautiful, ambitious, vibrant and inspiring city in 2019.

With a population of nearly 100,000 people, Leeuwarden is the provincial capital and seat of the States of Friesland. It is a modern city with a rich history and culture. The oldest remains of houses date back to the 2nd century AD and since the 10th century it was inhabited continuously. 

Nowadays Leeuwarden is located centrally in Friesland, but up until the thirteenth century Leeuwarden was situated along the Middle Sea (Middelzee). Due to the building of dykes to prevent the further encroachment, the Middelzee silted up and gradually new lands were formed. Thanks to the fertile sea clay bottom these new lands could easily be used as meadow lands.

CC BY-SA 4.0 - Johan Bakker
Grote of Jacobijnerkerk, Leeuwarden (CC BY-SA 4.0 - Johan Bakker)
Oldehove, Leeuwarden (CC BY-SA 4.0 - Anniek93)

The oldest building in the city is the Grote of Jacobijnerkerk (Great or Jacobin Church), built around the year 1245 as a part of a Dominican monastery. Albertus Magnus, the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages, preached in this church in 1256.  

One of the most lopsided towers in the world must be our Oldehove tower. The construction of this (late) Gothic tower, adjoining the Saint Vitus church, began in 1529. It was supposed to be taller than the Martinitoren (97 metres) in the city of Groningen, but the tilting started already during the construction and the project was stopped three years later. The height of the Oldehove is now 39 metres. The church was demolished around 1595 and the plan to rebuild it was never realized. The tower is open for visitors.