The great beguinage
Onother tourist attraction in Louvain is the Great Begiunage. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is early Gothic. The date of construction, 1305, is carved into the right buttress of the north portal. Approximately 300 'Begijns' lived in the 'Begijnhof' in the 17th century. The 'Begijns' or 'Beguines' were women who lived a religious life but kept their own property and supported themselves. They did not make perpetual vows. The movement was very strong throughout the Low Countries.
So far, none else of the Belgian cities and towns I visited celebrate friendship as much as Louvain.
First, for the city having been massively bombed during the two world wars (and seeing the central University Library torn down), it has benefited from solidarity moves.
The one that epitomizes this international friendship was the building of the University Library in the 1920s and the restauration of its book gathering. The USA took charge of building a new home for the mibrary. As for the book collection, apart from Germany who was required to donate 13 million DM's worthin books in reparation, many countries, Allied and neutral alike, took part in helping Leuven (and Belgium) to retrieve its status as a center of education, knowledge. Books flocked in to amount 900 000 volumes in 1939 from France, Japan, the US, UK... A year later, though, bombings would destroy the collection again...
See following picture? The main reading room was designed by a French architect; books, as I just said, came from every part of the world and the exterior was deisgned by an American architecture (following Flemish Renaissace standards).. finance came namely from the USA, as far as I understood our nice guide, Jan.
Other donations related to knowledge and education, sciences were made to the city too, like this bronze globe given by China. Then, while wandering through the city, you would notice some elements that celebrate/ commemorate friendship.
A hot balloon just at the back of the University Library... to celebrate friendship;
A tree in the city, the Vriendschapsboom... to celebrate friendhip between people who use to share same birthday (?)
Also, University was for me a place where to build friendships, share views, open one's mind to difference, newness and knowledge. That, for me, grants all University cities the features of Friendship cities.
Safari in downtown Leuven
Well indeed if you walk around in Leuven you might cross the path of a giraffe or other strange animal. If you taste to many belgium beers you will see for example pink elephants. But this picture was the pet-giraffe of a marvelous olive shop in the "Pensstraat". If you need a ollive just go there...
So to go on a downtown safari in my town, you certainly don't need a safari-jeep or binoculars. Just a copple of to many beers or a olive shop.
If not you, your kids may need this :)
Somewhere where to sit when you have a very urgent need. Very often, public toilets are not that clean. I tried the ones at some train stations and they were not that neat, for instance. In pubs and restaurants, they don't have dame-pipi either.
Instead, for 30 eurocents, Quick restaurants have clean toilets (with an active dame-pipi and not the ones who just sit on her chair knitting).
Plus, Quick restaurants are spread all over the country. :)
In Leuven, you may head to QUICK restaurants centrally located :
*Fochplein 1 - 3000 LEUVEN
Pic of St-Peter's church was taken from Fochplein so I guess you can locate the restaurant.
OK... For those who don't know, Quick is a Belgian chain of fast food, quite developed in Europe. No mussels and fries there but rather hamburgers and fries. OK.. you name it, like McDo. A bit cheaper, I think.
I am not advertising about Quick. But I noticed that their toilets are clean... It's up to you to have hamburgers or taste local food. Read my restaurant & shopping tips and you'll know there are better things to try than hamburgers. :)
And they are OK too in the central Library of KUL... but access is limited to the visitors, students and personnel, I think. You will have to pass the gate, in fact. And very often, you have to show a membership card or be an awaited visitor of the Library.
Bell ringing has been a hobby of mine since the late 1990s. My boyfriend is a carillon player and so bells are a theme wherever we visit.
I simply love the bell music. Those huge bells can be hunderds of years old. Their sound was heard by people in the middle ages. Isn't that just amazing?
For some information about the carillon at Leuven University, see the link below.
Obviously much more information on the Dutch version of this website.
The nice thing about carillon music is that it is free. Everyone can hear it.
Here's a schedule for summer concerts 2010 (on Saturdays from 9-10 pm):
You can visit the tower for free on a guided tour just before the concerts at 7.30 pm.
Any questions or requests, do use the e-mail address below!