Leuven is a very small city which is easy to see by foot. The town is quite pleasant and it is a home of the large, prestigious KU Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven), a marvelous town hall and one of the most famous breweries in the world – Stella Artois. Besides that, here you can have the opportunity to walk on the wonderful cobblestone streets, to see the ancient squares and to enjoy a glass of cold beer in the tens of the cafes, pubs and restaurants around.
Leuven’s Town Hall
Arriving from the railway station, I headed over to the central part of the city. The first stop of my walk was the town hall which is the biggest pride here. Such an impressive edifice is a true architectural masterpiece. It was built in the 15th century in a late gothic style. The facades are decorated with statues of different historic personalities, and one of them is Erasmus Roterodamus. These 236 statues represent Leuven’s founded “Hall of fame”.
The Fons Sapientiae statue
Before reaching the town hall, however, you will see one very whimsical statue. It depicts a boy, holding a book in one of his hands, and in the other one, he pours water (or beer) inside his head. The statue embodies the roaring student life in the town. It is supposed that it symbolizes the knowledge pouring into the heads of the students. The statue carries the name Fons Sapientiae or Fonske, as it’s called by the locals, which literally means “Source of Wisdom” when translated.
Sint-Pieterskerk (St Peter’s Church)
Right in front of the marvelous town hall, another symbol of Leuven is found – the “St. Peter’s Church”, dating back from the 15th century.
It was built in the Gothic style, which is typical for the city. A famous painting of the great Flemish painter Dirk Bouts – “The Secret Supper”, is found inside the central part of the altar. Here you can see the “golden man” on top of the church, who periodically hits the bell, I suppose, every round hour.
Groot Begijnhof (Great Beguinage)
Continue your walk towards one of the places, which is an object of the World cultural heritage of UNESCO – The Great Beguinage. The Beguinages are similar to monastery settlements as a type of enclave, where the women lead a monastic life but with more liberal rights than regular monasteries. They are specific for the Flemish region – in Belgium and Netherlands, as this one in Leuven dates back from the 13th century.
Nowadays, The Great Beguinage is a fusion of beautiful alleys, gardens, parks, yards and houses in traditional architecture. They are inhabited by students, foreign teachers and employees of the oldest Catholic university in Europe. Currently, the Beguinage is a property namely of the Catholic university.
The Leuven Catholic University
The Leuven catholic university is the largest and the oldest university on the territory of Belgium. It was founded in 1425 in the center of the historic town Leuven. Its library is impressive and it’s one of the main attractions in the city. It has been demolished during the time of the First World War but thanks to the financing from the American charity foundation, it was rebuilt again in the traditional Flemish Renaissance style in the 20s.
You can take advantage of buying a common ticket, which included a couple of the most important landmarks of Leuven – a visit to the town hall (you have to pick a specific date), the university library + the tower, as well as the museum M-Museum.You can buy tickets in advance directly from here at the price of 16 euro each.