University library- Leuven ©Layla Aerts

World Heritage Day is not only about the UNESCO listed sites, but it’s a celebration of all cultural heritage places and landscapes of international, national and local significance. Read on to discover some notable monuments and sites in Flanders that are worth visiting, but not (yet) included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Exploring university heritage in Leuven

Leuven University library ©Milo-Profi
Leuven University library ©Milo-Profi

Each academic year, the Flemish university town of Leuven attracts more than 40,000 Belgian and foreign youths. They envelop the city with a vibrant atmosphere and a affable crowd. There’s no point in asking for directions to college, because the university is everywhere: a network of faculties and institutes in old and new buildings spread throughout the city. Here are our top five hidden (university) gems:

1. For the romantics at heart

In the courtyard of the Arras College grows ‘The tree of sorrow’. Many girls have said each other goodbye under this beautiful honey tree (for the experts: Sophora Japonica), before returning to their rooms.
Arras College – Naamsestraat 63 – 3000 Leuven

2. For the adventurers

Over 5,000 stuffed animals are exposed in the Zoological Institute. Interesting piaces in the collection include a bowhead whale, passenger pigeon and the supposedly extinct Coelacanth. This cabinet of curiosities is open to the public during college opening hours.
Koningscollege – Naamsestraat 59 – 3000 Leuven

Arenberg campuslibrary ©Toerisme Leuven
Arenberg campuslibrary ©Toerisme Leuven

3. For the sporty types

The Leuven Library Tower is the highest point (ca. 264ft) in Leuven’s skyline and is accessible to the public. During your climb to the top, several expositions tell you more about the history of the library and you get to understand its importance for the city. Once at the top, you are treated to a unique and magnificent panorama of the city of Leuven.
University library and the tower - Ladeuzeplein 21 – 3000 Leuven

4. For art lovers

Academics gather regularly in the Holland College. Its real hidden gem is the beautiful chapel in Louis XV style. Unfortunately it is not open for visitors, but you can attend one of the many music concerts by leading musicians (at reasonable prices).
Holland College – Pater Damiaanplein 9 bus 5306 - 3000 Leuven

5. For the bookworms

Home to over a million books and reference works, Campus Library Arenberg is one of the largest and most modern libraries for sciences and engineering in Europe. The library offers students, academics, alumni and other visitors the opportunity to work in a high tech environment, full of multimedia solutions.
Campus Arenberg II - Willem De Croylaan 6 – 3000 Leuven

Enjoying a break in Limburg

C-Mine ©Anneleen Mengels
C-Mine ©Anneleen Mengels

The Hoge Kempen National Park is a unique nature reserve, covering more than 22 square miles of woodlands and heathland. Imagine extensive pine forests, purple flowering heather, glistening lakes and hill tops with uninterrupted views of the area. A stone’s throw from the National Park, you’ll find the mining sites of Genk, with lots of interesting activities for all ages. 

6. For nature lovers

Everyone is welcome for a beautiful day of hiking, cycling, horse riding and relaxing in the Hoge Kempen National Park. However, there is more to this area than meets the eye. How about a trip to space in the Cosmodrome or to the Middle Ages at the Water Fortress? Or get literally in touch with nature by following the ‘barefoot path’. Are you more of a modern-day visitor? You can combine your visit to the Park with a day of shopping in Maasmechelen Village.
Regionaal Landschap Kempen en Maasland, Winterslagstraat 87, 3600 Genk

7. For the ‘bit of everything’-seekers

Now called C-mine, the mining sites of Genk offer a wide range of cultural and tourist activities: from a culinary discovery to exhibitions, music productions, guided tours, and more. Highly recommended is the C-mine expedition, a unique sensory experience. Its climax is the climb to the top of the authentic 200ft mine shaft headframe. The reward is worth the effort: an impressive view over the surrounding area.
C-mine, Evence Coppéelaan 91, Genk
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