Monday, November 3, 2008

Travel Notes: City Sights of Leuven (Louvain), Belgium

City Sights of Leuven, Belgium

I was in Leuven (Louvain), Belgium from October 7 – 9, 2008.

Notes on Leuven, Belgium:

Leuven is very proud of its past and its heritage. The first reference to the town of Leuven can be traced back as far as the 9th century. It developed as an important trading center within the Duchy of Brabant in the 11th to 12th Century. It was at this time that its first town wall, churches, monasteries and abbeys were built. The famous University of Leuven was founded in 1425.

Below are some of the interesting sights that I have seen or visited in Leuven:

1. Stadhuis (Town Hall)

2. Sint-Pieterskerk (Saint Peter’s Church)

Saint Peter’s Church is the oldest church in Leuven. It was presumably founded in 986.

3. Tefelrond (Round Table)
This is the third most important building on the Great Market Square. It is late medieval, Gothic in origin. It is now being used as the head office of the National Bank of Belgium.

4. Saint-Antoniuskapel (Saint Anthony’s Chapel)

Saint Anthony’s Chapel is one of the many chapels built over the centuries near the five major parishes of Leuven. It was bought in 1860 by the superior of the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who promised to turn it into a shrine to Saint Joseph. The first pilgrimage took place in 1899. Many pilgrims from over the whole country of Belgium still come mainly during the month of March.

Father Damian is buried in the crypt under the chapel. He was beatified in 1995 and in December 2005 he was elected ‘Greatest Belgian’. Visitors form all over the world come to honor his memory.

5. Railway Station

On the Leuven side of the station there is a very spacious station square and the striking red building of the bus company. Under all this you will find a beautiful and pleasant underground car park.

6. K. U. Leuven (Catholic University of Louvain)

7. Universiteitsbiliotheek (Central University Library)

During the First World War the university library, then housed in the University Hall, ws destroyed by fire. In the 1920, a new library was built in Flemish Renaissance style mainly due to American funding. The carillon in the tower – with its 63 bells, one of the largest in Belgium – is a gift of 16 American engineer associations The library houses more than three million volumes.

8. Fonske (Fons Sapientiae)
In the very heart of Leuven the eternal student Fonske (officially speaking: Fons Sapientiae, Source of Wisdom) pours “science” into his head. Deservedly he has his place in the center of Leuven. Fornske was carved by the artist Jef Claerhout (1975).

What I missed to visit in Leuven:


Goot Begijnhof (Great Beguinages)

The origin of the name ‘begijn’ is unclear. These women only took temporary vows of chastity and obedience to the ‘mistresses’ of their choice. As opposed to the conventuals they did not have to observe the rule of poverty and were therefore able to have private property and an income. For the remainder they provided for themselves via donations made to the ‘begijnhof’. They also generated income from teaching, healthcare, manual labor like embroidery, sewing, washing, spinning.

When the ‘beginhof’ was abolished in 1795 some 198 ‘begijnen’ lived there. The more prosperous ‘begijnen’ had a private residence. The poorer ‘begijnen’ lived together in ‘convents’, community houses. An infirmary was available for the sick and poor old ‘begijnen’.

The Groot Beginhof has the appearance of a small town in the city. It is a succession of streets, squares, gardens and parks, with tens of houses and convents in traditional brick and sandstone style. This small town was restored between 1964 and 1989 by the Catholic University of Leuven who had purchased the site in 1962 from the Social Welfare Commission. Today it houses students and university staff.

On 31 March 2000, it was officially recognized by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Photo Link:

Click on the following link to view photos taken during my visit in Leuven, Belgium.

Suggestion: Choose the 'Slideshow' option.



No comments: