The history of Leidseplein

Leidseplein is a popular and beloved square among Amsterdammers and visitors from outside. There are many entertainment venues such as theatres, restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. Yet this square originally had a completely different function, despite the fact that it has always had a vibrant character since its creation. In this blog we would like to take you on a journey through the history of Leidseplein.

The origin of the Leidseplein

Around the middle of the seventeenth century, the Netherlands was one of the richest countries in the world and a real world power. During this Golden Age there was also a huge population growth that cities had to deal with, including Amsterdam. In 1663, a plan was implemented to expand the canal belt, in order to create more places to live for Amsterdammers. The canals to the east were extended and new streets and transverse canals were constructed perpendicular to the new canals. A city gate was also built on this spot, which was renamed the Leidsepoort because of the large flow to and from Leiden. From here, visitors arrived at a square where they could park their horse and carriage, before continuing on foot through the city. This place was given the name Leidseplein.

Parking for horse and carriage

During the seventeenth and most of the eighteenth century, Leidseplein continued to serve mainly as a 'carriage square', where stagecoaches entered the city via the Overtoomsevaart and could drop off their passengers and luggage. During this period, Leidseplein was a small but lively part of the city. Livestock stables, farriers and pubs were mainly to be found there.

The first City Theatre

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the first theater was established on Leidseplein in 1774. The Stadsschouwburg was a place of great interest, but the original building, which was made of wood, unfortunately burned down in the year 1890. The appearance of the Leidseplein had changed considerably compared to 30 years earlier, just before the Leidsepoort in 1862. was demolished.

Luxury on the Leidseplein

From the twentieth century, Leidseplein began to acquire the atmosphere and allure that can still be felt in the twenty-first century. With Modehuis Hirsch, the American Hotel, restaurant Hollandais and the new Stadsschouwburg, Leidseplein had become a chic place where culture reigns supreme.

Leidseplein today

After the Second World War, Leidseplein started to deteriorate and deteriorate. During the 80s there were even plans to tear down Paradiso to make way for a hotel. Fortunately, Leidseplein was saved from these plans in the nick of time and can still be enjoyed today at the legendary pop stage called Paradiso. In recent years, Leidseplein has been given a much-needed upgrade, and the square has been made future-proof for the coming generations of Amsterdammers. Since 1986 there is also a branch of coffee shop The Bulldog on Leidseplein, in the former police building.

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