The Prinsentuin was originally part of the city defense walls. When the Dutch 80 year independence war was over in 1648, the defense walls became superfluous and were turned into a private garden for the ruling Nassau family, hence the name “Princes’ garden”. In 1814, the garden was given back to the public of Leeuwarden by King William I. In 1820, landscape architect Roodbaard created a beautiful park in the English landscaping style that we can still enjoy today. When the weather allows it, it’s the perfect place for a picnic or a BBQ.
Besides the spot for a lazy sunny afternoon, the park also houses the Pier Pander Museum and cafe and Restaurant ‘De Koperen Tuin‘, which is named after the novel of Simon Vestdijk that takes place in the Prinsentuin. In summertime, there are free Prinsentuin concerts organized every Sunday afternoon in the music dome.
The Potmarge is a river on the southern side of Leeuwarden. Maria Louise von Hessen Kassel used to have a manor here with a big garden called Marienburg. After het death in 1765 the area was split up and many small gardens were created. The Potmarge was also a very busy river from where good were shipped to the city. Nothing of this remains, just like the factories along the river. The Potmarge today is an oasis of calm, near to the city. Ideally to bike or to kajak, SUP, or sail through with an electric boat.
‘Even if you had no business there, it would still be worth going to Leeuwarden, just to visit the Oude Stadsbegraafplaats’. That’s the first verse from a beautiful poem by Jean Pierre Rawie that you can read before you enter this park. The entrance gate has two skulls and the words Memento Mori, Latin for ‘remember that you will die’. This is not a regular park, but a 19th century graveyard. Lucas Pieters Roodbaard, a Dutch landscape architect who also made the Prinsentuin, designed this graveyard as if it were a park.
The first person was buried here in 1833. Roodbaard himself was also buried here in 1851 and he got a new gravestone in 2005. The graveyard was closed for new burials in 1969. Nowadays, you will find a graveyard in decay. Gravestones have collapsed, broken or gone askew. The iron fences are rusty and crooked and the land is subsided on the places where people were buried. The Romantic design of the park and the presence of a lot of crows all give the Oude Stadsbegraafplaats a very special atmosphere. It’s a world of it’s own and it’s worth a visit any time of the year.
The Westerpark is one of the nicest parks in Leeuwarden and many people enjoy it. In the morning, you see people from the neighbourhood walking their dog. Around lunchtime, the office clerks from the nearby offices claim the park for their lunch walk. When school’s out the local kids and teenagers play or hang in the park. And in the evening, everybody else who hasn’t had their chance to enjoy the park, brings a visit. Sometimes nearby Club Yoga uses the park for their lessons. Don’t forget to stop by the smallest flower shop in Leeuwarden: Janny’s De Blomkekast, on the edge of the park at Westersingel 8.
As the name indicates, this is the park on the west side of the city, but nobody knows it by its original name. Most people in Leeuwarden call it Vossepark. Because there used to be a mill, owned by H. Vosman, on the edge of the park, people in the neighbourhood started calling it Vosse’s park. And that name stuck. The pond was originally constructed as a water supply for the city. The park around it is in English landscaping style and was created between 1872 and 1875 by C.L. Vlaskamp, a student of Lucas Pieters Roodbaard, who designed the Prinsentuin and the Oude Stadsbegraafplaats (or the Old City Cemetery).
The Northern part of the Netherlands is mostly known for its meadows and mounds, not for forrest. But luckily in 1992 they created the Leeuwarden bos (forrest) on the northern edge of Leeuwarden. This young forrest isn’t really big, but you can find a great diversity of nature: Trees, meadow’s, ponds and ditches. Along the northern edge you can also find a grave mound that is topped with gravestones from the Westerkerk. It’s a perfect place to come to ease and jet very close to the city.
The Groene Ster (Green Star) is the natural swimming pool in Leeuwarden. This is where Leeuwarden heads when the temperature reaches above 25 degrees. There are different beaches for everybody’s liking. There is a family beach, a nudity beach and even a dog beach. But also when the thermometer hits a bit lower, this area is really nice to explore. If you walk or cycle passed the golf course you will end up in Tytjerk where you can find another park: Vijversburg (aka ‘Bos van Ypey’)
The Froskepôlle is one of the most serene city parks of Leeuwarden. It’s located between the industrial area De Hemrik and the new suburb Zuiderburen. This park is actually an Island and it was created when they dug out the Van Harinxmakanaal just after the Second World War. In the sixties, it was turned into a park, which at the time was only accessible by ferry. But in 1977, a small bridge was created on the north side. Because it’s a little out of the way it is always really quiet in this park. It’s the perfect location to escape the noise of the city or to get together with a large group of people without bothering anyone.
The Vliegerbult (kite mound) is the best place to kite in Leeuwarden. Because we are so close to the sea, there is always a lot of wind, perfect conditions to kite. No wonder you always see people fly their kite here. On top of the mound you also have a beautiful view over the city. You can find it in the western outskirts of the city. To get there you have to follow the Harlingervaart and go under the beautiful Slauerhoff Bridge, you will see the Vliegerbult appear in front of you. From the Simon Vestdijkwei, you will have to cross a bridge towards the ‘Verbindingsweg’ and there you will see the mound. The entrance in the east side is sometimes closed but there is another entrance on the south side of the mound. Flying your kite at night in also lots of fun, you do have to add some lights to your kite though.