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City and Municipality
Former weigh house in Leeuwarden
Former weigh house in Leeuwarden
Flag of Leeuwarden
Coat of arms of Leeuwarden
Coat of arms
Highlighted position of Leeuwarden in a municipal map of Friesland
Location in Friesland
Country Netherlands
Province Friesland
 • Body Municipal council
 • Mayor Ferd Crone (PvdA)
 • Municipality 166.99 km2 (64.48 sq mi)
 • Land 151.70 km2 (58.57 sq mi)
 • Water 15.29 km2 (5.90 sq mi)
Elevation[3] 3 m (10 ft)
Population (Municipality, May 2014; Urban and Metro, May 2014)[4][5]
 • Municipality 108,249
 • Density 714/km2 (1,850/sq mi)
 • Urban 108,254
 • Metro 174,724
Demonym Leeuwarder
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postcode 8900–8941
Area code 058
Website .nl.leeuwardenwww

Leeuwarden (Dutch:  ( ), Stadsfries: Liwwadden, Frisian: Ljouwert, pronounced ) is the capital city of the Dutch province of Friesland. It is situated in the northern part of the country.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Heraldry 2.1
  • Geography 3
    • Population centres 3.1
    • Climate 3.2
  • Culture 4
    • Architecture 4.1
    • Sport 4.2
    • European capital of Culture 4.3
  • Politics 5
    • Sister cities 5.1
  • Transport 6
  • Education 7
  • Notable residents 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The name "Leeuwarden" (or older 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).[6]

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.[7]

The second syllable is easily explained. Warden, Frisian/Dutch for an artificial dwelling hill, is a designation of terps, reflecting the historical situation.[7] The first part of the name, leeuw, means lion in modern standard Dutch. This interpretation corresponds with the coat of arms adopted by the city, which features a heraldic lion. However, modern standard Dutch was not used in this region in the Middle Ages, when the city was called Lintarwrde. Some scholars argue that the name of the city is derived from leeu-, a corruption of luw- (Dutch for sheltered from the wind, cf. the maritime term Leeward) or from lee- (a Dutch word for water circulation). The last one suits the watery province of Fryslân.[7]


Historical map of Leeuwarden 1664
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.

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. On that day, the Royal Canadian Dragoons still fly the flag of the city of Leeuwarden wherever they are stationed.[8]

On Saturday 19 October 2013, a fire broke out in a clothes shop on a busy pedestrian street. The fire started late in the afternoon and destroyed over 15 shops and flats. Everyone on the street was evacuated as the blaze damaged dozens of properties. A 24 year old man who was living in one of the flats died because the fire was not under control until Sunday morning. Due to this the fire burnt all through the night. The man called the fire brigade, before collapsing because the services could not reach him. The birthplace of Mata Hari was destroyed. The firemen took 4 and a half hours to put out the fire.


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 is also possible the coat of arms was a gift to the city from the powerful Minnema family.[9]


Population centres

Dutch Topographic map of Leeuwarden (place), June 2014
Leeuwarden consists of 19 population centres as of 1 January 2014 when parts of the former municipality of Boarnsterhim were added to Leeuwarden.


Climate data for Leeuwarden (1971–2000).
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 12.6
Average high °C (°F) 4.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.4
Average low °C (°F) −0.2
Record low °C (°F) −19.9
Precipitation mm (inches) 66



One of the canals of Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden's historic centre with the tower of the church of St. Bonifatius
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 Saint Boniface church 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.[12]


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. In 1986 the Dutch king Willem-Alexander participated in the Eleven cities tour, with the pseudonym W.A. van Buren, which is the pseudonym of the royal family of The Netherlands. The city's local football team, Cambuur Leeuwarden plays in the Eredivisie. 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.[13] The city's basketball team, Aris Leeuwarden plays in the Dutch Basketball League since 2004.

European capital of Culture

On September 6th, 2013 Leeuwarden was voted European Capital of Culture for the year 2018.


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

Sister cities

Leeuwarden has a sister city:


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


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 three regional vocational schools (MBO): the Friese Poort, Friesland College and Nordwin College.

Notable residents

See also


  1. ^ "Burgemeester drs. Ferd. J.M. Crone" [Mayor Ferd. J.M. Crone MA] (in Dutch). Gemeente Leeuwarden. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten" [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch).  
  3. ^ "Postcodetool for 8911DH". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch).  
  5. ^ "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch).  
  6. ^ Groot p. 10
  7. ^ a b c Groot p. 12
  8. ^
  9. ^ Jansma p. 45
  10. ^ "Dorpen per gemeente" (in Dutch, Frisian). Doarpswurk. 2005. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  11. ^ "" (in Dutch). Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  12. ^ Stichting De Fryske Mole (1995). Friese Molens (in Dutch). Leeuwarden: Friese Pers Boekerij bv. pp. 69–73, 181, 183, 253.  
  13. ^ "Nieuw stadion Cambuur kost €35 miljoen"

External links

  • Official Website
  • Official site of the Stichting Bonifatiustoren.
  • Working and Living in Leeuwarden
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