Leuven, centuries old, alive and kicking, has a wealth of historical buildings
This is mostly due to (or thanks to) the age-old rivalry between Leuven and Brussels to present itself as the capital of the Duchy of Brabant. The Dukes of Brabant, finally fed up with the inhabitants of Leuven claiming more and more freedom, finally settled in Brussels. As a compensation, Leuven was given a college, founded in 1425 by Decree of Pope Martin V. This college was the cradle of the current Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven). This university is not only the oldest university of the Low Countries, but also the oldest catholic university in the world.
It is a miracle that, in spite of the many city fires and wars, there are still so many historical buildings to admire. It is almost impossible to count them all. At the Leuven Department of Tourism (In&Out, 1 Naamsestraat) excellent hiking guides and brochures are at your disposal.
Certainly worth your visit: City Hall, Saint-Peter’s Church, Saint-Michael’s Church, University Library, University Hall (seat of the KU Leuven) Great Beguinage (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Botanical Garden, Martyrs Square and the many Colleges around the centre.
At walking distance, on the other side of the town, you can visit the Abbey Park (established in 1129). The Abbey is currently being restored. In the long term the Museum for Religious Art will be housed in large sections of the monastery building. There are also some fascinating walks in the grounds of the Arenberg Castle. The van Croy family acquired the domain in 1446. In 1916 the Duke of Arenberg donated the castle and its domain to the University. In a section of the park, the University sports grounds and sports hall (Sportkot) are located. For only 2 euros, you can buy a sports ticket that allows you to swim, tennis, do athletics, etc. for one day.
Leuven can easily be explored on foot. Leave your car behind. Hungry or thirsty? No need to worry. Leuven has dozens of bars and restaurants for everyone's taste and budget. Market is known as the largest bar in the world...
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