cosa vedere a Lovanio

What to see in Louvain, the city of university and beer

Leuven, the most famous university city of Belgium, it does not have in its extraordinary heritage of beauties only books and tradition. But she also has a lovely location next to the banks of the Dijleeast of Brussels and an ancient knowledge linked to the production of local products. And not from today: the Catholic university here was founded in 1425 and has become one of the main European cultural centers already in Middle Ages. The proof is that the great humanists Erasmus of Rotterdam And Justo Lipsio they taught here and among the students there were greats of culture and even popes. In addition, he was also lucky enough to keep a large part of his original architecture despite the heavy bombing of both world wars. The result is that scrolling through the list of things to see in Leuven reveals a pleasant and proud city.

Which rightly prides itself on its refined university buildings and gothic buildings in which to discover the best of architectural heritage Belgian.

What to see in Louvain: let’s start from the church of San Pietro

Mighty and soaring in the center of the Grote Markt is located there St. Peter’s churchone of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the Flanders with its arched windows and a unique style made even more special by the Baroque treasures and the presence of a real museum of religious art. The heart of this space is the painting of the Last Supper painted around 1464 by the Flemish painter Dirk Bouts.

It is not a normal painting: the dinner takes place in a Gothic room and the figures are arranged around Christ with an unusual symmetry. Unlike many other representations, the betrayal of Judas is not in the foreground while the symbolic Eucharist, represented in the side panels, is under the eye of the faithful.
After the church comes the time of civil power: the Leuven Town Hall it is the most characteristic landmark of the city. Three tiers of sculpture adorn the main facade and the two side facades hosting the record figure of 236 figures which were added in the 19th century and which represent familiar faces in the history of the city.

The roof, as if that weren’t enough, is richly decorated with small turrets while in the niches of the facade there are biblical reliefs that date back to the original medieval building. Inside, they are not to be missed Chamber of the Great Gothic Theater with its carved ceiling dating from the 15th century and the small Gothic hall.

what to see in Louvain

Leuven and its University

To the right of the town hall is located Naamsestraat, where there are many university buildings that are worth a visit. In our walk to discover what to see in Louvain do not miss the Royal College (i.e. Koningscollege) founded by Philip II of Spain in 1579, the Premonstratensian Collegefounded in 1571 and the Arras college, founded in 1508 by the future bishop of Arras.

The church of Sint-Michiels built in 1650 it attracts for its splendid baroque facade which is considered one of the most beautiful of its kind in Belgium.

what to see in Louvain

Walking around Louvain: the old market

Not far from Naamsestraatin a westerly direction, is located the Oude Marktthe bustling oldest square in the city, which despite the passage of time is still the center of Leuven.

It is no coincidence that this is the place where life pulsates, especially on summer evenings. Although its old brick houses are almost completely burnt down in 1914have been beautifully rebuilt and are now home to many cafes and restaurants. Here a bronze sculpture commemorates the Kottmadams of Leuven. And it deserves an explanation: it is the statue that represents precisely one Kotmadam. In other words, one of those ladies, often with white hair, who rented out a student house also offering cooking service.

Now the downtown houses are for 80% rented to students while the inhabitants are in the first periphery. But the memory of these women who gave shelter and support to the students is still alive. Then, after this moment of nostalgia, turn around to look at the Vauxianum college which is housed in another Baroque palace on the short side of the square.

Discovering the beguinage.

The splendid beguinage (in Flemish Groot Begijnhof), once it housed hundreds of beguines devoted to a simple existence, very similar to that of a nun (as, moreover, also happened to Bruges And Antwerp). It is still today, perhaps, one of the most enchanting areas, one of those not to be missed among the things to see in Louvain. This complex which can only appear romantic to travellers, is crossed by a tributary of the Dijle, and was founded in the 13th century. Time has passed but it still houses hundreds of houses and a church. In the past there were also a hospital it’s a farmhouse.

In the eighteenth century, when 300 beguines lived in this structure the houses were renovated but the French Revolution swept this apparent air of tranquility. In 1962 the site was purchased by the university – again it – and underwent a complex recovery aimed at creating student residences and classrooms. To fully understand the meaning of the past tense, go to second building to the right beyond the entrance It is the only one that remains furnished as when the last beguine was alivein 1988. The church, Sint-Jan-de-Doperbuilt in the XIII-XIV century, today it serves the university community as a place of worship.

The Vanderkelen museum houses the local collection of visual arts including works by Quentin Massys and Pieter Coecke van Aelst. But also more recent paintings. There are also very high value sculptures such as one Our Lady of the XII century known as Sedes Sapientiae, and an exceptional alabaster work dating back to the 16th century. And then Flemish pottery and Chinese porcelain, engravings, coins and tapestries.

After the center, a visit to the surroundings

The town of Kessel-Lojust four kilometers from Leuven, is known for its well-preserved Benedictine abbey – Vlierbeek Abbey – built in 1125 and can not miss in our list of things to see in Louvain. The abbey was destroyed by the troops of William of Orange in 1572 and was abandoned but some time after the Benedictine community he returned here and gave new life to the structure.

The buildings you see today were built since 1642 to 1730while the abbey church it was built between 1776 and 1794. Nearby, a Heverlee, is the 16th century castle built right on the bank of the river Dijle surrounded by beautiful gardens. The castle has two majestic towers and fully expresses a traditional late Gothic style.

Beer, history and beautiful countries

About thirty kilometers to the southeast is the village of Rixensart. Here the attraction not to be missed is the beautiful red brick castle, the Château de Merode, built between 1631 and 1632. It has a square shape with four corner towers and can be visited. The interiors house antique furniture and precious tapestries, a collection of paintings and a collection of weapons that the French mathematician Monge brought back from Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign. Not far from Rixensart is the Genval lake. It is famous as a weekend destination for the inhabitants of Leuven and Brussels and for the wide choice of good restaurants on the lake famous for their fish.

If on the one hand Brussels can be considered the capital of Europeon the other Leuven is in all respects the capital of beer. This is because it is considered the heart of the brewing and culture of beer Flanders. Its center is considered the “longest bar in the world” given that for hundreds of meters there is a succession of breweries and places to taste.

But not only draft beer: it is produced here. Here they are based Stella Artois – the largest brewery in the world – and thirty other breweries and many guided tours are available. And there’s more: In April Leuven dedicates a festival to beer which is called Zythos Beer Festival. During this event it is possible to taste hundreds of labels from dozens of different producers.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *