Although Leeuwarden got City Rights in 1435, the city has been inhabited for over 1,000 years. Until the thirteenth century Leeuwarden was a coastal city and became an important harbour with trade extending all the way to Russia. Over the centuries, the nearby sea silted up and today the city is located further inland.
In the seventeenth century the city became one of the most important cities in the country with a population of 16,000 people. Nowadays the city’s importance to the Netherlands has diminished, but it still has an important role for its region; it is the capital of the province of Friesland.