Hidden Basement in Smit
A retail shop has preserved the 17th-century food cellar from the old building it now occupies.
Leiden is a very old city where most of the historic buildings are not only still standing, but still being used as houses and stores, even if they are from the 16th or 17th century. Unfortunately, most of these houses are renovated in such a way that they look new from the inside, thus hiding away the fascinating history of how people used to live.
The interior of the home decor store called Smit is not one of these places.
The shop owner has gone out of his way to preserve some of the old splendor of the building that he now occupies. The most striking feature is the building’s old cooling basement, which is on display albeit hidden under the shop. It was used to store and preserve food and perishable products, before refrigerators came along.
These days it is no longer in use and unfortunately has also flooded. However, the owner decided to keep it in tact instead of covering it up. He put a glass plate above the entrance of the old cellar to keep this piece of history alive.
The rest of the store is a mixture of furniture and home decor products for sale, along with old photos and relics from the past. It is almost like a small museum.
Know Before You Go
You can visit the store during opening hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The owner loves to talk about the history of his building and that of Leiden, so don't be ashamed of entering without buying something.
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