Leuven Introduction Walking Tour, Leuven

Leuven Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Leuven

Leuven can proudly boast a number of great landmarks that offer extraordinary scope for sightseeing. The city of Leuven is marked by two beautiful squares, the Ladeuzeplein, basically the most famous attraction and the Fochplein, where the magnificent Fonske can be found. This orientation walk is the best opportunity to discover Leuven's most interesting attractions.
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Leuven Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Leuven Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Belgium » Leuven (See other walking tours in Leuven)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: karenl
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Ladeuzeplein
  • University Library
  • Museum M
  • Maarschalk Fochplein
  • Fonske
  • Grote Markt
  • Round Table
  • Town Hall
  • Saint Peter’s Church
  • De Kotmadam
  • Oude Markt
  • Catholic University
  • Saint Michael’s Church
  • STUK
  • Great Beguinage
  • Sint-Donatuspark

1) Ladeuzeplein (must see)

The Ladeuzeplein is a square in the center of Leuven, named after a former rector of the Catholic University Leuven, Monseigneur Paulin Ladeuze. The Ladeuzeplein is the largest square in Leuven. Until World War II it was called the Volksplaats or People's Place. Among the local population the square was known as the Clarisse. This name is derived from the Clarisse religious order who used to have a monastery at this location, when it still was a sandy hill.

In 1783 the monastery was abolished and the city of Leuven bought the estate from the Belgian authorities, who had inherited it, in order to establish a market dedicated to the sale of wood. The hill was leveled off and the first house on the square was erected in 1812. At this time the square was named Place Napoleon, later it was renamed the Volksplaats and eventually it became the Mgr. Ladeuzeplein.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
University Library

2) University Library (must see)

The University Library was designed by the American architect Whitney Warren in a neo-Flemish-Renaissance style, and built between 1921 and 1928. Its monumental size is a reflection of the Allied victory against Germany, and it is one of the largest university buildings in the city. The library's collections were rebuilt with donations from all around the world, outraged by the barbaric act which it had suffered.

In 1940, during the second German invasion of Leuven, the building largely burnt down, including its 900,000 manuscripts and books. The blaze is thought to have started in an exchange of fire between the two armies, rather than a deliberate act. The building was rebuilt after the war in accordance with Warren's design.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Museum M

3) Museum M (must see)

Established in 2009, the “M” Museum is essentially the history of the city museum. The beautiful building, located in the centre of the city, is a real eye-catcher. Designed by the architect Beel, the complex integrates existing historical buildings with contemporary architecture.

It houses a brilliant collection of documents, artifacts, costumes and paintings that are presented to local people and visitors. Here you can find an original collection of Gothic sculptures and 19th-century paintings by various artists. From the roof of the museum, you have a splendid view of the city.

Opening hours:
Mon-Tue: 11 am - 6 pm; Thu: 11 am - 10 pm; Fri-Sun: 11 am - 6 pm; Wed: closed.
Maarschalk Fochplein

4) Maarschalk Fochplein

Dating from shortly after the First World War, the construction of the Marshall Fochplein is a square situated in the very centre of the city. The square was named after the French Marshal Ferdinand Foch and is the connection between the Allies Avenue, the Tiensestraat, Market Square and Margaret. It is also dominated by the St. Peter’s Church and the statue of Fonske.

5) Fonske

Located on the Fochplein, the statue is sculpted by the the famous master Jef Claerhout and his real name is “Fons Sapientiae”; it describes the source of wisdom and the eternal student. Fonske is in reality a pseudonym and represents a student who is reading a book and pours a drink, probably beer, in his brains. Inaugurated in 1976, this statue of knowledge may be a representation of student life and it was commissioned in memory of the 550th anniversary of the University of Leuven. The statue is periodically dressed in costumes appropriate for the occasion.
Grote Markt

6) Grote Markt (must see)

The Grote Markt of Leuven is situated between the Oude Markt and the Fochplein and near both the Bondgenotenlaan (Avenue of the Allied Forces) and the Muntstraat (Mint Street). Its location on the crossing of some of Leuven's most famous and most touristic spots makes the Grote Markt one of the city's busiest squares. However, it has been pedestrian-friendly for some years; only public transportation buses from De Lijn are allowed to use the square.

This location is one of the oldest and most historic in all of Leuven. The square has existed in its present form since the 14th Century, when the Catholic University Leuven was established. Most of the square's buildings are built in the Gothic style, of which the town hall is a prime example. Other buildings on the Grote Markt are the Church of St. Peter and several guild houses. As throughout Leuven, there are also many pubs, taverns, and eateries on the Grote Markt. There is a significant contrast between the more formal and traditional style establishments on the Grote Markt and the more trendy, youth-oriented and student entertainment spots on the nearby Oude Markt.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Round Table

7) Round Table

Built in 1817, the Round Table is the third most important building situated on the Main Market square. The construction is a traditional building that has been part of the city central square since the 15th Century. The original structure was destroyed in the late 19th Century. However in 1921, the National bank decided to restore and rebuild the original Gothic structure as a meeting place for burghers, guilds and drama societies. The renovation after the First World War brought the old building back to life.
Town Hall

8) Town Hall (must see)

The building today known as the Town Hall was the Voirste Huys (front house) of a larger complex of municipal buildings on which construction started in 1439 at the site of an existing town hall. The Town Hall has three main stories, lined with pointed Gothic windows on the three sides visible from the Markt. Above is a gallery parapet, behind which rises a steep roof studded with four tiers of dormers. At the angles of the roof are octagonal turrets pierced with slits allowing for the passage of light. The main façade has an entrance staircase, and two portals in the center, above which are figures of Saint Peter (left) and Madonna and Child (right), the former in compliment to the patron of the church opposite. The interior accommodates an interesting collection of artwork, including sculptures by Constantin Meunier and Jef Lambeaux. Inside can also be seen the portraits of the Leuven mayors since 1794.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Saint Peter’s Church

9) Saint Peter’s Church (must see)

Being one of the oldest in the town, the church was built in 986, but the first structure was burned in 1776. Shortly after that the present building was built, and it was much larger than the Romanesque church started in 1425, which contains some of the treasures of the religious town within it. Situated in the very heart of Leuven, on the principal market square, the edifice has a Brabantine Gothic influence and the parterre has the shape of a cross with a low bell tower that has never been completed. Outside the building, you can admire the choir with seven radiating chapels.
De Kotmadam

10) De Kotmadam (must see)

Located in the centre of the Old Market, the statue dates from 1984 and was sculpted by Fred Bellefroid. A "kotmadam" is a woman that keeps order in student houses. In memory of all "kotmadammen" who would do their best to accommodate and take care of their students from all over the world, the town established this statue. Locals and tourists use "de kotmadam" as a meeting point or to park their bikes.
Oude Markt

11) Oude Markt (must see)

The Great market Square is the most famous square anywhere in the city. The fine looking area is surrounded by some of the best buildings and facades, and offers a great introduction to the city. There are various cafes and restaurants around the vicinity where you can soak up some of the traditional atmosphere of the city. Lined with cafes from front to back, Oude Markt square is the main nightlife scene in Leuven, but it's busy during the day as well, especially when the weather is nice.
Catholic University

12) Catholic University

The Catholic University of Leuven was the largest, oldest and most prominent university in Belgium. The university was founded in 1425 as the University of Leuven by John IV, Duke of Brabant and approved by a Papal bull by Pope Martin V. During France's occupation of Belgium in the French Revolutionary Wars, the university closed by a decree of the French Republic. After Belgium was annexed by the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, a State University of Louvain was founded in 1816, lasting until 1835. In 1834, a few years after Belgium gained its independence, the Catholic University of Leuven was refounded, taking this new name, and it is identified with the Old University.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Saint Michael’s Church

13) Saint Michael’s Church

Constructed between 1650 and 1670, the edifice is considered to be the main Jesuit church in Belgium. The building was designed by architect Willem Hesius, who was responsible for the main edifice of this magnificent church. The impressive facade with a Baroque influence is described as an altar outside the church. The Baroque style makes the building really stand out amongst the smaller, secular houses that surround it. The church was founded in 1940 by royal decree, and recognized and protected as a monument.

14) STUK (must see)

Located in the midst of various university buildings, the STUK centre is the old university hall and this is clearly displayed through big metal letters along the street. Designed by architects Riedijk and Rotterdam, the building is constructed around a large patio on which different chambers can be seen: a cinema, a nice café, auditoriums, offices and an art factory. On these grounds, great artists, tourists and passers-by meet and a new world can be found behind each door. STUK is now a house with many inviting rooms and it offers an amazing selection of plays throughout the year.
Great Beguinage

15) Great Beguinage (must see)

The Grand Béguinage of Leuven is a well preserved and completely restored historical quarter containing a dozen of streets in the south of downtown Leuven. About 3 hectares (7.5 acres) in size, with some 300 apartments in almost 100 houses, it is one of the largest still existing beguinages in the Low Countries. The béguinage stretches on both sides of the river Dijle, which splits into two canals inside the béguinage, thus forming an island. Three bridges connect the parts of the beguinage. The complete béguinage is owned by the University of Leuven and used as a campus, especially for housing students and academic guests.

The Grand Béguinage of Leuven has the appearance of a small town on its own, with houses planned along a network of narrow streets and small squares. The majority of the houses dates back from the period 1630-1670. They were constructed in the local, traditional architecture, enriched with some sober, baroque elements. The facades show red bricks with sandstone cross-bar frames for windows and doors. A typical element in the beguinage of Leuven are the numerous dormers, often elaborated with crow-stepped gables and round arched windows.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

16) Sint-Donatuspark (must see)

This park is centrally located and comprises one of the many green estates in the heart of Leuven. Deliberately designed to be a place that had many green barriers between the manmade structures, the town enjoys a nice selection of park land. This park offers a lovely place of relaxation, and is famous with both local people and visitors to the area.

Walking Tours in Leuven, Belgium

Create Your Own Walk in Leuven

Create Your Own Walk in Leuven

Creating your own self-guided walk in Leuven is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Famous Architecture Walk

Famous Architecture Walk

For tourists looking to find the most remarkable Medieval buildings in the world, they should just visit Leuven. The town is the seat of the most impressive architecture in all of Belgium, the imposing University Library and the splendid Town Hall, which is home to numerous early Flemish figures. Take this tour and admire the beauty of Leuven architecture.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 Km or 3.7 Miles