Exploring Friesland: a weekend of history + street-art in charming Leeuwarden

Ah, Leeuwarden. The capital of the Dutch region of Friesland lends itself to a day trip or a weekend spent among quaint streets, street-art, and… miniature people. Yes, my friends, Leeuwarden is a surprising gem and, despite having visited during the lockdown, there was no shortage of fun to be had. But let’s start from the beginning. 

After a few years of living in Amsterdam, my friend Linda Nouta relocated to Leeuwarden. She’s a fellow creative who spends her days scouting vintage items and styling other people’s wardrobes. You may remember her from the collaborations we did together here and here. Days spent with Linda usually end up in adventure. That’s the kind of person she is: open to newness, curious about the world, and laugh-ready. She was my guide to Leeuwarden. 

We started by hunting for miniature people, a project by local artist Michel Tilma. But we kept stumbling upon impressive urban art murals by artists like Fake Stencils, Kenny Cookwell, and Twitch, so our focus shifted. I learned that the Writer’s Block – a collective that organizes events, promotes and curates graffiti and street art – is responsible for much of what we saw, especially the 2019’s art jam that turned parking lot De Klanderij into a masterpiece of urban art. Forty artists from all over the world came together for that specific project. But, my friends, there’s so much grandeur to this city, too, perhaps because, at some point, Leeuwarden was the capital of the Netherlands (from 1584 to 1747.) The architecture reflects that from De Kanselarij – a building that served the local government back in the 16 century – to Het Princessehof – the 18-century palace where Princess Marie Louise from Orange-Nassau lived – and the Grote of Jacobijnerkerk – the largest medieval church in the city. Special mention to the Oldenhove – a leaning tower that stands as a symbol of the Leeuwarden since its construction in the 16 century. If you’re a map person, here’s a historical route to download before your visit, and a street-art map. You can get a physical map of the miniature people spots over here.

This weekend was very language-oriented too. As a result, we have a Dutch spoken vlog – with English subtitles, bien sûr – with bits of Frisian thrown in. I finished my Dutch language education back in 2014 so that’s the language we speak, Linda and I. It was interesting for me to watch the footage we filmed and acknowledge the long way I have come to get fluent in Dutch. Frisian is the second official language of the Netherlands and Linda’s native one. It’s a protected language by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, spoken by around 480.000 people in the region of Friesland (Fryslân.) Now, another interesting thing is that within official Frisian, there are some dialects, Liwwadders being one of them, which is still spoken by older generations of Leeuwaarders. You can see me venturing in reading this variant of Frisian at minute 11:00 of this video. Or you can watch Linda and I go completely blue right at the start. Let us know if this was as amusing for you as it was for us. ↓

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One thought on “Exploring Friesland: a weekend of history + street-art in charming Leeuwarden

  1. Pingback: A la playa – a beach day in Zandvoort – AMSTERDIVE

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