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Leuven Attractions

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Laudeuzeplein by Night, Leuven's University Library
Leuven Attractions

The top ten places and sights to see in Leuven are:

1. Town Hall (Stadhuis) – Located at the southern part of the Grote Markt, it towers above the intersection of all main streets in the middle part of the town.
This magnificent building of Gothic style is the result of Sulpitius van Horst’s planning work combined with Jan Keldermans II (initial building) and Mattheaus de Layens (completion) constructing efforts. The building is composed of three small towers which is a trademaerk of De Layen’s style. Compared to the other city halls in Brussels, Oudenaarde and Ghent, this city hall stands out as it is lavishly decorated. At main façade and side façades, there are three rows of sculpted figures. These figures total to 236 and were installed during the latter part of the 19th century. Each sculpture is a representation of prominent personalities that have earned their pages in the town’s history. Upon entering the hall, seven flags representing Leuven’s seven noble families can be seen. Gothic style is well represented in the beamed ceilings, fireplace and overall hall design.

2. The Church of St. Peter (Sint-Pieterskerk) – This structure is a perfect epitome of Brabant Gothic architecture. Around the 15th century, the church was also built by van Horst, Keldermans and de Layens. It was Joost Massys however who completed the building. Aside from its beautiful Gothic interiors and exteriors, the Stedelijk Museum voor Religieuze Kunst (Museum of Religious Art) is another attraction in the church. In here, religious sculptures and paintings including the Last Supper and the Martyrdom of St. Erasmus both by the artist Dirk Bouts are exhibited.

3. University Town – In here, the well-known Catholic University is located. It was founded during the year 1425 and has become a silent witness to the development of great historical personalities. Justus Lipsius as well as Erasmus from Rotterdam were able to teach in this school. Leuven has a reputation of being the student center. Student life is humorously depicted by a statue known as “Fonske” located within Grote Markt.

4. Abdij van t’ Park – This park is located on the southeastern part of Leuven. Here you will find buildings with designs dating back from the 16th century towards the 18th century.

5.Groot Begijnhof – This complex was once home to a community of béguines. When the university bought the land, restoration efforts took place. Today, student residences are built within this area. This place is a UNESCO Heritage Site.

6. Oude Market – This is the center of Leuven and is situated at the western part of Naamsestraat. Shopping and dining places abound in this area. Other attractions include the bronze sculpture built to commemorate the “Kottmadams” (landladies of student residences) in Leuven and the Collegium Vauxianum having a 1657 Baroque facade.

7. The Church of Saint Michael (Sint-Michielskerk) – This church was built by Willem Hesius from 1650 to 1666. Its Baroque façade is considered as among the finest kind in Belgium. It is located diagonally across Heilig Geest College.

8. Vanderkelen-Mertens Museum – This museum is divided into three main sections. The first section houses several paintings that were created at different eras. In the second section sculptures and reliefs can be found. Among the pieces displayed in this section is the 12th century Madonna Sedes Sapientiae. In the last section, artifacts such as old coins, textiles and golden pieces are exhibited along with 16th to 20th century glass paintings and porcelain.

9. t’ Zoet Water – this area is a recreation park composed of five lakes. It is located about a few kilometers from the eastern part of Korbeek Dijle.

10. Louvain-la-Neuve Museum – This museum is located at the ground floor of the Erasmus College. Paintings from anonymous and famous artists can be found here. Among the collection are works of Picasso, Delahaut and Magritte.

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