A ‘Gaper’ or ‘Yawner’ served as a sign for pharmacies and drugstores. To attract customers, but also as a quality indicator for the store. Initially, the notable head was put on the marquise, but since the 17th century it moved to the façade of the building. The mouth of the character actually isn’t open to yawn, but to take a medicine. The grimace of many of these figures is due to the bad taste of the medicine.
The name ‘Rapenburg’ is first mentioned in 1360. Until 1389 it functioned as a ‘vest-canal’ and formed the southern edge of Leiden’s center. Along this canal many stately buildings have been built, mostly by contractor William Wijmoth. The woodwork of these monumental buildings are all painted in the same colors, dark green (monument-green) and cream-white. In painting terms, people in Leiden therefore speak of the “Rapenburg colors”.
The main building of the Leiden University and several other buildings of this university are located here, as well as many student houses, the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden), the Hortus Botanicus and SieboldHuis. Every year this historical canal also carries a music event called the ‘Rapenburgconcert’.