A scavenger hunt through the poetry murals in Leiden

Leiden, a city I have told you about before, is historically a city that has produced many painters, writers and scientists. No wonder this city has a deep connection with a wall poetry project that has decorated the city in murals. Today I’m giving you a photo tour to a part of Leiden’s wall poetry walk. 


I walk past the wall poetry every day. Sometimes, especially on the route I walk every day, I forget to notice them. Recently I told my colleague Dolly about the murals. She’s a real photographer and I thought she might be interested. Little did I know, I’d awoken my own interest as well.


101 murals

There are 101 murals hidden in- and just outside Leiden’s city center. Some of them were completely invisible due to filth or weeds, but local volunteers have cleaned most of the walls by now. The poetry on the walls in written in various languages. Most of them have an English translation hanging on a sign close by.

The project started in 1992 with a poem from Russian poet Marina Tsvetajeva. The murals are supposed to combine visual art with poetry. The project connects to the city perfectly because of its history of famous painters, writers and scientists. Not only was Rembrandt born here, Dutch famous poets have studied or worked in Leiden and even Einstein was known to teach classes at the university.


Walk the walk

A Dutch website – not related to the project – has come up with an interactive mapped route of all the wall poetry you can find in Leiden. By following the route you will not only pass the city’s highlights, you will also find hidden alleys and secret gardens and courts.

Dolly, the colleague I told about my city oh so vibrantly, got interested and proposed to walk the route partly. She picked a sunny day and went on a trip with her camera. When she asked me if I wanted to use the photos on my blog, I couldn’t be happier! I think she is a great photographer (who’s currently working on her own website, yay!) so I’m proud to present her work!
leiden poetry mural

leiden poetry mural

leiden poetry mural

leiden poetry mural

leiden poetry mural

leiden poetry mural

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  • Reply
    Leen Spaans
    May 14, 2015 at 13:35

    This is a interesting project for most people walk by without even knowing what they missed. I know some of these murals but elas not all and I like it very much. It should get more attention from the tourist information office and posibly a guided walk throug the city would do !

  • Reply
    Christiaan van Minnen
    June 12, 2018 at 21:08

    Now also in Leiden: INDEX Poetry Books. Located at Herenstraat 83 at the south end of the city, it offers an immense selection (thousands of volumes) of poetry in all languages. Sure worth a visit. Mentioned by TripAdvisor!

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