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The Sweat Room in Leiden: A unique place worth seeing

One of the most lovely universities in the Netherlands is Leiden University. This university, which was founded in 1575 was the first university in the Netherlands (as the border is now set). Within the university, on the second floor, you’ll find a unique room full of signatures that is only open a few times in a year…

Leiden University was established by William of Orange to help educate citizens of the newly established Republic of the Netherlands. The university was meant to recognize Leiden for its resistance against the Spanish, which is a annual holiday in Leiden still celebrated today.

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The University has moved several times, however one of the main locations is within a beautiful building along Rapenburg (Rapenburg 70). Once you enter and pass the coat room, you’ll want to take the circular staircase upstairs prior to turning left at the top of the stairs to find the Sweat Room.

This room has had a couple of uses as a meeting room, storage room, and exam room. Since the 18th century, it’s been where Leiden University often wait for their results (often while sweating). The room is generally locked, however during graduation weekend, it’s open to the public where new Leiden University graduates can sign their name (hopefully for eternity!)

If you’re lucky enough to enter the Sweat Room, you can admire the signatures of Queen Beatrix, King Willem-Alexander, and notable honorary doctorates such as Nelson Mandela. (The signatures around them are occasionally cleaned.)

If you’re going to be in Leiden close to the 15th of February, the 8th of March, or the end of September, you might be lucky enough to peer inside. Be confident and you might be in luck if family members are visiting Leiden together with graduates.

  • Click for my one day guide to Leiden!
  • Follow the Pilgrims in Leiden

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