Het Roze Huisje (Pink House) in Leiden, Netherlands

Leiden is a historical city with buildings that go back to medieval times, most of which are still inhabited. Like in Amsterdam, these buildings are largely protected and kept in their original state. For this reason, you will rarely see one of these houses painted in a bright color—except for this one, which is a rosy shade of pink.

The pink house was built in 1635. Architecturally, it isn’t all that different from the hundreds of other houses from the 17th century. Despite that, it is claimed to be the most photographed building in the city for one reason: its bright pink color. 

There are many myths around the house, the most prevalent one claiming that it was pink to signify that it was a brothel. (Rosse buurt, which translates to “pink neighborhood” or “red light district” was a term used for areas with brothels.) The house was once a brothel, said to be owned by a madame known as the green hare. She was so popular that the street, Groenhazengracht, was named after her (it translates to “green hare canal”). The house, however, was red at the time and became pink over the years as the paint faded in the sun.

In 2021, there was a big discussion about whether this color had to be preserved. The municipality wanted it restored to its original red, while locals insisted to keep the characteristic pink. Fortunately, the latter side won, and the house has retained its distinctive color. 

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