Leuven - the city with the longest bar in the world
Leuven Travel Blog› entry 71 of 354 › view all entries
The city of Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish-Brabant, and perhaps best known throughout the world for its magnificent architecture, it's internationally renowned University and last but far from being least, its world famous beer. Although Leuven suffered heavily under the two World Wars it is now a very modern city with a very rich past, which charms visitors throughout the world.
I had waited for a long time to visit Leuven. Many of my Belgian friends had really recommended the city, many of them had studied in the university there and their memories were of cause inflected by the best years of their life! I went there with my son, every time he comes down here in Brussels to visit me, we try to visit a new city every time, it is a goal of ours.
We left Brussels and Leuven is just ½ hours drive from my home. The first thing that met us was the Stella Artois brewery with its distinct smell of malt. It reminds me of home in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen where I didn’t live far from the Carlsberg brewery.
We parked under the square at the Library at Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein. The Library is newly constructed 'old' building. The impressive building in Flemish Renaissance style was constructed between 1921 and 1928. It was designed by the American architects Warren and Wetmore and built thanks to donations of American Colleges and Universities. It replaces the former university library which used to be in the university halls in the Naamsestraat. The library had been destroyed in 1914.
We walked round in the busy city streets ��" it was Saturday and the shopping was lively. It was one of these days where the spring was just around the corner but it could not get the grasp of it. After a while walking towards the central train station we walked back to the old city centre and found a café just in front of the awesome town hall.
Just next to the town hall at Grote Markt actually between the Saint Peter's Church and the town hall a medieval-looking building can be spotted.
We were sitting just in front of the magnificent town hall enjoying the view of people walking by and we were both amazed by the details on the Mayor's House built in the Brabantine Gothic style.
The harmonious dimensions and rich decoration of the walls make the of the town hall a shrine of medieval splendor. The first stone was laid in 1439, the designer was the architect Sulpitius Van der Vorst. He died shortly afterwards and architect Keldermans continued his work. When Keldermans died in 1445 a third architect, Mathijs de Layens, continued the construction from 1447 until 1468.
In 1706 the staircase at the entrance was added. The town hall was renovated for the first time in the 19th century. During the restoration new neo-gothic elements were added. A first restoration ran from 1829 until 1841. During the second half of the century the statues were added to further decorate the façade. This was due to the French writer Victor Hugo, who, during his stay in Leuven, insisted that statues would be made to fill out the empty niches because he found that such a splendid building could not be left unfinished. From 1893 until 1907 the beautifully sculptured pedestals on which the statues rest, were renovated too. During the bombings of 1944 the town hall suffered considerable damage which resulted in another renovation campaign from 1962 until 1983.
The town hall looks like a delicately wrought relic shrine. It shows the late gothic style at its most splendid. The elegant lines are accentuated by the proportions of the facades. The main facades count 10 bays, whereas the side facades count only 3. The vertical movement, which is so typical for the Gothic style, is reinforced by the slim towers on all four corners of the building. There is a total of 236 statues (made in the 19th century). They represent artists, scientists, historic persons and other people that played an important role in the history of the city. On the higher floors the Counts of Leuven and the Dukes of Brabant are shown.
Just behind us the bells of the impressive St.
We walked to the Oude Markt and what a place, this was for sertain the place where my most of my colleagues burnt most of their brain cells during their hard years of studying. This square is jam-packed with places to drink and is known by locals as 'the longest bar in the world'. Do sample the local beer - Stella Artois may be available worldwide, but a beer always tastes different in its home town! For a real home brew try Domus, a cosy bar where the beer is piped in direct from its own brewery next door.