We will start with the University Library, located on the expansive Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein. It is a beautiful building in the Flemish neo-Renaissance style, with a tower proudly pointing skyward. While this temple of knowledge houses a dizzying collection of books, it also serves as a war monument. The building was almost entirely destroyed during the two world wars. The damage was immense. Countless books and manuscripts were lost, including the university’s original charter. Following these dark times, the library was almost completely restored in accordance with the original plans. Tour its five floors to learn all its stories.
We will return to the Grote Markt for our next university highlight. This is the University Hall, a building drenched in centuries of history. It was originally used by the city’s weavers as a place to sell their cloth. Soon after its establishment, the university moved in as well. It still serves as the university's policy centre today.
We have now seen two gems very close together, though that is not so surprising. The city is littered with university heritage, after all. Various campuses and colleges are spread across the city. Exit the university hall and turn right. Walk two minutes and you will see the Premonstratensian College’s façade. This building was originally used by theology students in the late 16th century. It abuts Atrecht College, which was established in 1508 as housing for destitute students. Another few metres along is Hogenheuvel College, built in the 15th century. All these historic buildings remain in use by the university today.
This applies to King’s College as well.Philip II, King of Spain, founded this college in 1579. Today the building houses the Museum of Zoology. The museum hosts an extensive collection of skeletons and taxidermy specimens. It offers a systematic and lively overview of the animal kingdom, from sponges to mammals. Our university building tour ends at Hogeschoolplein, near Pope’s College. This was founded in 1523 by Pope Adrianus VI, who was once a Leuven university professor. If you still haven’t had your fill of academic heritage, this app also offers a more detailed walk.