The Danish studio Bjarke Ingels Group won the international architectural competition
The city of Leuven was first mentioned in historical records at the end of 9th century, when the Vikings settled around an ancient fortification on the Dijle river -"Luvanium" in Latin. Later, the settlement became residence to the Counts of Leuven who were given the right to rule over the middle part of the contemporary Belgian territory in 1190. From then on, Leuven became a major administrative and commercial centre, with the textile trade standing at the heart of the wealth and prosperity of the city.
However, this all was to change in the fourteenth century when the cloth trade lost its importance and Brussels took over Leuven's title as 'capital of the Duchy of Brabant'. Fortunately the following foundation of the University of Leuven in 1425 changed allowed to re-establish the fame of the city and which was further enhanced by the foundation on the outskirts of the city of a brewery which produces Stella Artois (Visit Flanders).
Leuven, the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant, is 25 kilometres away from Brussels. According to its population (101 396 people, as of Jan. 2018) Leuven is the eight largest city in Belgium and the fourth in Flanders region. It is governed by a Local Council chaired by a mayor.
Innovative, knowledge-intensive development of Leuven has been facilitated by the oldest Catholic university in the world - KU Leuven, where the humanist Erasmus, the cartographer Mercator, and the anatomist Vesalius worked and studied. Furthermore, Thomas More had his famous Utopia printed here in 1516. It is also the birthplace of famous beer brand Stella in 1926, the brewery of Stella Artois still being located here.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, Leuven "MindGate is one of the world's prime regions for health, high-tech and creativity. A region with a unique ecosystem of companies cooperating with knowledge institutions and the government, creating a perfect breeding ground for companies, entrepreneurs, investors and talent.
Saint Peter's Church
The university city of Leuven is close to Brussels and the national airport. Thanks to one of the world’s oldest Catholic universities, it is also a centre of knowledge and innovation. Admire the beautiful heritage here, such as the stunning façade of the Gothic Town Hall located on the Grote Markt. The University Library and tower not only has an eventful history; it also offers you a peek into the Grand Reading Room. Climb through the tower’s five floors and be rewarded with a panoramic view. Art enthusiasts can indulge themselves at M-Museum Leuven, where old and new art come together. Stop by Saint Peter’s Church to see ‘The Last Supper’ by Dirk Bouts. This masterpiece still hangs in the spot for which it was originally painted so long ago.
Be enchanted by the narrow streets and picturesque houses of the Great Beguinage, a part of the city dating back to the Middle Ages. Go to Park Abbey, just outside the city, to enjoy a wonderful natural area and take a look inside the abbey, which has been continuously inhabited since 1129.
Leuven is also a fabulous beer capital because both smaller craft breweries and the Stella Artois global brand make their homes here. It’s no wonder that there are so many great sidewalk cafés and pubs here. Have fun mingling with locals and students on the squares, like at the Oude Markt. New restaurants and trendy boutiques are opening up in former industrial properties in the new, contemporary Vaartkom district.
Source: Visit Leuven