In the middle of where you’d least expect, nestled between two particularly modern shops, the oldest bar in Leiden is like stepping back into a late 19th-century time-warp. All vintage stained glass windows, wooden panels, and lit by candlelight, Café de Vergulde Kruik is quite literally translated into English as ‘the Gilded Jar Café’…
Café De Vergulde Kruik (The Gilded Jar Café) in Leiden
Vintage Delftware blue tiles adorn the walls and the seating area stretches back into the cavernous building, as far as the eye can see. We’re in the heart of Leiden, a pretty University city around an hour South of Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands. Nearby, the University city of The Hague and the pottery city of Delft aren’t too far away.
A History of De Vergulde Kruik
The bar and café date all the way back to May of 1881 when de Vergulde Kruik opened its premises to the public for the first time by the Seisveld family. Housed within a former liquor store, the bar furniture itself dates back to the turn of the 19th-century, while the wooden countertop features the only silver bar tap in The Netherlands.
The bathroom is just as interesting as the bar itself and has toilet bowls dating back to the 1880s! Today, the bar features original 19th-century stained glass windows and has an ever-so-welcoming atmosphere. The café also acts as a restaurant of sorts and it’s possible to purchase both lunch and dinner on site.
While the lunch menu offers sandwiches and soups, dinner is a cooked affair, focusing on heavy dishes like steak. However, truth be told, the real reason to visit Leiden’s oldest bar is not the food, but the drinks. The beer menu is long and it’s possible to purchase drinks in all kinds of units, including the tiny .20l fluitje (little whistle) glass. Unlike the Belgians, there’s no special glass for each kind of beer!
The Heineken Connection
The story goes that the founder of the Heineken brewery (i.e. the Amsterdam-based brewhouse which you can visit during your time in the Dutch capital) liked the star hanging on the exterior of De Vergulde Kruik that they bought the rights to the logo for the princely sum of 35 guldens. This roughly equates to $400 in today’s money.
How to visit The Gilded Jar Café in Leiden
Popular among locals, students, and tourists alike, if you want to visit one of the best hidden gems of Leiden for yourself, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the café and bar is open on a daily basis. And if you’re looking for a quiet weekend break in the Netherlands, somewhere away from the crowds of Amsterdam, then you should consider a longer stay in the city. Check accommodation prices here.
Nearby, you’ll soon discover plenty of other must-see Leiden attractions including the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave (dedicated to the history of Dutch sciences and medicine) and Vlot Grand Café (a floating restaurant). If you want to get to know Leiden on a more local level, then this 2-hour guided walking tour will show you some of the city’s best sights during a relaxed wander around Leiden.