Einstein's Chair – Leiden, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura

Einstein's Chair

Leiden Observatory

Albert Einstein would often sit in this chair during visits to the observatory to discuss science with Willem de Sitter. 


Leiden is a historical city that was once home to a few famous scientists such as Willem de Sitter, Jan Oort, Heike Kamerling Onnes, Willebrord Snell, and many more. Due to this history of attracting brilliant minds, foreign scientists often ventured to Leiden to share notes and discuss their findings. Albert Einstein was one such scientist, having visited Leiden several times over the course of his academic career. Einstein even assumed the role of professor of theoretical physics at Leiden University. 

Einstein is one of the most famous minds in history. Because of this, many objects associated with physicists and his lore are considered priceless artifacts, such as Einstien’s blackboard and sink. An old observational chair at Leiden Observatory is known as the “Einstein Chair” as it was the physicist’s usual seat when he visited his friend Willem De Sitter to discuss cosmology. 

Although Einstein was not an astronomer, nor did he professionally observe the skies, he still had a huge interest in the observatory’s instruments and what could be studied through them. This is how he ended up in the large dome of the Repsold Refractor. 

Today, the chair is a popular stop during tours of the building. Visitors often take photos in the chair and it was even featured on live television once. 

Know Before You Go

The chair can be seen during tours of the building or during open days. See the website for information on both.

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