The Pieterskerk has been the central touchstone of Leiden for almost 900 years. St. Peter's two keys form the Leiden coat of arms and symbolically unlock the gates to both Heaven and Earth. This symbolism is reflected in the use of the Pieterskerk. A transformation from a Catholic church into a reformed church and since 1976 a multifunctional meeting place in a monument of unique cultural-historical value.
For many Americans, Leiden - and especially the Pieterskerk - are inseparable from the so-called Pilgrims, who played an important role in the early days of the colonization of North America. Some of the Pilgrims settled in Leiden in 1609 to escape religious persecution in England.
Then, in 1620, the Pilgrims traveled to North America on the ship the 'Mayflower' to build a new life there. The main reason for their departure from Leiden was that they felt Dutch manners and morality were not strict enough. The Pilgrims viewed Dutch morality as a danger to their children. In addition, as weavers, they did not enjoy an enviable economic position. The approaching end of the Republic's Twelve Years' Truce with the Kingdom of Spain in 1621 forced them into the decision to depart the country.
One of the leaders of the Pilgrims, John Robinson, lived opposite the Pieterskerk, in what is now the Jan Pesijn Courtyard. The Pilgrims often joined him to hold their services. Robinson was buried in the Pieterskerk in 1625. Memorial plaques in the baptistery and on the outer wall on the south side of the church are dedicated to him. The baptistery also includes a small exhibition on the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims never really held that much significance for the city of Leiden. Conversely, however, the city had a major influence on the Pilgrims' time in America. Their approach to civil marriage and the election of their leaders was based on Leiden examples. Moreover, it is said that American Thanksgiving is based on the Leiden 3-October celebrations. Every year, Americans in the Netherlands celebrate Thanksgiving in the Pieterskerk.
Plan your visit to the Pieterskerk Leiden
The Pieterskerk Leiden is open to the public, unless events are planned (please see the events calendar on our website: www.pieterskerk.com). In certain cases, the monument may also be closed to the public during build up and dismantling of an event. To make sure the Pieterskerk Leiden is accessible to the public at the time you wish to visit, please feel free to contact us by calling +31(0)71 512 43 19 (Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.).
The entrance to the Pieterskerk Leiden is located at Kloksteeg 16. The entrance fee to the Pieterskerk Leiden is € 3. We would also be very grateful for a voluntary donation. Our staff will gladly inform you about the history of this famous Leiden city icon.
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