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Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

The past comes alive at Lieden’s National Museum of Antiquities, where you’ll explore cultures of the ancient Egyptians, the Romans, Greeks, Syrians and Persians.

The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, a museum of antiquities, is itself a piece of history. It first opened its doors to the public in 1746 with a small collection of artifacts bequeathed to the Leiden University by a collector. It has since grown and now has a comprehensive collection of ancient relics from Egypt, Rome, Greece and the Near East.  

It’s also the place to go to learn about the Netherlands over 300,000 years of history through an interactive display that incorporates the insights from 75 different archaeological sites. Discover the story of the Romans in the Netherlands in the 1st century through relics archaeologists have found in graves, military camps and altars. The artifacts in this exhibition, including a perfume bottle decorated with gold, an intricately carved sarcophagus, a helmet gilded in gold and an amber statuette, display the Romans’ power and riches. 

The museum’s Egypt display is an impressive collection. Learn about Egyptian lives through the exhibit’s 13 mummies and statues depicting Queen Hatshepsut, as well as Maya, a powerful overseer of the Royal Treasury, and his wife. The collection of 25 animal mummies, including a crocodile and a baboon, shows the symbolic significance of these creatures to the Egyptians. 

For adventure stories, head to the Near East exhibition to learn about the Dutch crusaders, explorers, archaeologists and scholars who have been part of the Netherlands’ long connection to the Near East. Take a whirlwind tour through the cultures of Mesopotamia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Turkey and Lebanon. 

See the incredible artistry of the black-figure and red-figure vases in the Greek display and observe the reconstructed potter’s studio where this work was made. The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden also has temporary exhibits, so you can easily spend a few hours in the museum poring over history. It’s worth taking a break in the museum café just for the experience of drinking coffee in a room with an Egyptian Temple.

The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden has an entry fee, which is reduced with a Netherlands Museum Card. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday.


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