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Pilgrim Fathers Leiden

Walk in the footsteps of the Pilgrim Fathers


Choose either the short walk through Leiden which takes 1 hour and 30 minutes or the long walk (1 hour and 45 minutes). Visit the places where the Pilgrim Fathers lived and worked in the historical heart of Leiden.

Buy a guide booklet

Available in our shop in English or Dutch.Free children’s quiz on request (age 9+).

Download the App

Buy the unique code for the historical city walk App either via our website or at our bookshop. Comming soon.

Join a guided tour

To join a tour of the historical city walk call:+31 71 514 70 61.

Private tour available

By request only. A visit to the Walloon Church may be arranged. Please call for more information: +31 71 514 70 61.

Pilgrim Fathers

In 2020 it will be exactly 400 years since the first group of Pilgrims left Leiden and emigrated to the New World on the Mayflower. Discover the places where they lived, worked and worshipped during their stay in Leiden.

The Pilgrim Fathers, or Pilgrims, were English Puritan Protestants, who fled from the English village of Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, to the Netherlands at the beginning of the 17th century. They were being persecuted by King James I, head of the Church of England. The Pilgrims openly resisted the rituals and hierarchy of the Church of England. Unlike the Puritans who preferred to remain within the Church in order to ‘purify’ it from corruption and unbiblical practices, the Pilgrims separated from the Church and started their own independent congregations.

Many of them found refuge in Leiden, where they arrived in 1609, after a short stay in Amsterdam. They settled around the Pieterskerk. Most of them worked in the textile industry. With their printing press – which became known as the Pilgrim Press – they distributed literature that was forbidden in England.

In 1608, the Netherlands had just agreed a twelve-year truce with Spain. After the Siege of Leiden in 1574 the state-church, and thereby the government, was no longer Catholic. This meant that the Pilgrims could practice their faith in greater freedom.

It is even said that some American customs and practices have their roots in Leiden, for example civil marriage and Thanksgiving Day, which is still celebrated in the Pieterskerk every year.

Many sites in Leiden commemorate these English Christians and include 7 memorials and a monument. In 1620 the first group of Pilgrims departed from Delfshaven for Plymouth in England. From there they boarded the Mayflower to start a new life in America. Of the 102 passengers, 50 came from Leiden. After a harsh journey, they set foot in the New World and founded a colony in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This would become the first colony in America. This event marks the beginning of the Great Puritan Migration. Around 20,000 persecuted Puritans emigrated to Massachusetts between 1630 and 1642.

The Pilgrims (also called the Old Comers) were the predecessors of the ‘Founding Fathers’ of the United States, and they have over 25 million American descendants including 9 presidents: John Adams Sr. and Jr., Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Bush Sr. and Jr. and Barack Obama.


Our shop Ichthusboekhandel is located at 27 Nieuwstraat in the heart of the city of Leiden. The historical city walk tours start here. You can also find English books about the Pilgrim Fathers as well as gifts and souvenirs of your visit to Leiden.

Leiden is easily accessible by public transport. Leiden Central Station is located within walking distance of the city centre. The bus station is also located at Leiden Central Station.

Leiden city centre is a restricted traffic zone. The car park at Haagweg is easy to access with a free shuttle bus to the city centre. There are also car parks on Breestraat and on Garenmarkt as well as some designated street parking spaces. For more information please check online at

Nieuwstraat 27
2312 KA Leiden
+31 71 514 7061