Historical Fleet


Genre:  Heritage and history
(Inter)national partners
Various locations in Leiden

CANCELLED DUE TO GOVERNMENT MEASURES REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS. The historic fleet with 35 historic ships from Leiden to Delfshaven has been cancelled. Work is currently underway to digitize this historic route by means of a film reconstruction. This video will be launched on August 2 in collaboration with the Province of South Holland.


One summersday in the year 1620, a group of religious refugees departed from Leiden via the Vliet and Schie to Delfshaven (harbour). This was only a small part of a much longer journey. Twelve years before, they came from England to the Netherlands. These Pilgrims, who lived in Leiden for almost twelve years, continued their journey via Delfshaven onward to finally establish their own religious community in America. 

Not only does the route connect both cities – where the voyage of the Pilgrims 400 years ago is being commemorated this year - the Vliet and Schie are equally important. Excavated in the Middle Ages, these channels were expanded in the 17th century to allow barges, becoming the intercity of Holland. For this reason, the existing network of barge-channels has been appointed as important heritage by the province. 

The story of this group is in line with that of the Netherlands. The country is one of comings and goings. A hub within a worldwide network, flows of goods, capital, people and ideas gathered within this delta. At the start of the 17th century, migrants flocked to the young Republic, searching for prospects and freedom. The landscape, intersected by canals and rivers, testifies to this dynamic: prosperous, diverse and full of movement, where water dictated the rhythm of life.

Due to a unique collaboration, this story is being told. Leiden400 and Delfshaven400, together with the Province South-Holland and Stichting Verborgen Stad, are organising a voyage between the cities consisting of a large fleet of historical ships on Saturday July 18th. 

Stichting Verborgen Stad will launche a highly realistic VR-reconstruction of the past. You will be able to experience the 17th century in Leiden, Delfshaven and along the route. 

Historical and modern ships alike will be able to join the voyage, departing from Leiden, at Lammerschans, Leidschendam, Voorburg, Delft and Overschie. The voyage ends at Delfshaven, where a replica of the Halve Maen lies in wait. The Pilgrims departed on a similar vessel. That evening, a concert will be held at Delfshaven.