In the center 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 very 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 sitting 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 approximately one 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 Good reputation for De Vergulde Kruik
The bar and café date completely to May of 1881 when de Vergulde Kruik opened its premises to the public for the first time through the Seisveld family. Housed inside a former liquor store, the bar furniture itself goes back to the turn from the 19th-century, while the wooden countertop features the only silver bar tap in The Netherlands.
The bathroom is equally 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, honestly, the real reason to go to Leiden’s oldest bar isn't the food, but the drinks. The beer menu is long and it’s easy 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'll visit during your amount of time in the Dutch capital) liked the star hanging on the outside of of De Vergulde Kruik they bought the rights to the logo for the princely sum of 35 guldens. This roughly means $400 in today’s money.
How to visit The Gilded Jar Café in Leiden
Popular among locals, students, and tourists alike, if you wish to visit among the best great finds of Leiden for yourself, then you’ll be pleased to hear the café and bar is open on a daily basis. And if you’re searching for a quiet saturday and sunday in the Netherlands, somewhere away from the crowds of Amsterdam, then you should consider a longer remain in the town. Check accommodation prices here.
Nearby, you’ll soon discover lots of other must-see Leiden attractions including the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave (focused on a brief history of Dutch sciences and medicine) and Vlot Grand Café (a floating restaurant). If you wish to get to know Leiden on the more local level, then this 2-hour guided walking tour will highlight a few of the city’s best sights during a relaxed wander around Leiden.