Leuven Off The Beaten Path

  • Off The Beaten Path
    by steedappeal
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by steedappeal
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Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Leuven

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    Make sure to wander

    by steedappeal Written Feb 9, 2012

    Make sure to wander off of the Use-it map.. There are some interesting streets that curve in all sort of unexpected directions, especially South of the city center. Especially look out for unusual architectural details.

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    De Lantaarn Cafe

    by steedappeal Written Jan 29, 2012

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    Anchoring a corner of the former Stella factory, this bar had the reputation of having the most direct "pipeline" to all that golden, liquid Stella goodness. A regular Joe kind of place- laidback and authentic. Check it out before it moves or disappears since the old brewery site has been sold, making the bar's days numbered. Well worth the healthy walk from the city centre to visit. Make sure to check out the dingy "yachts" across the street, too. Located on Varrtstraat off of Varrtkom.

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    University carillon

    by ATLC Written Jul 23, 2010

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    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):
    http://www.kuleuven.be/cultuur/beiaard/ladeuzebells.html

    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!

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    Wolfspoort / Wolfsgang / Kalvarie Kapel (3)

    by Christophe_Ons Updated Aug 13, 2005

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    Along the path you'll notice the buildings of the Van Dale College. As you continue past the parking lot, you're in an alley called Pieter Van Dale pad, which leads right to Naamsestraat.

    When you're at Naamsestraat, look the the Rococo-style chapel on your right. It is built with remnants (and on the site of) the Heversche Binnenpoort, just like the Wolfspoort this is another structure (belonging to and older, long gone inner city ring) that was demolished in the 18th century (1754) .

    Kalvarie Kapel near Wolfspoort
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    Mercator

    by Christophe_Ons Updated Aug 8, 2005

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    The 16th century cartographer Mercator (1512-1594), who became world renowned for the "Mercator projection" he used in his Atlas and earth/celestial globe, used to live on Mechelsestraat in Leuven.

    He has a statue - a fairly small and ugly one at that, if you reckon how important his work was - out on the Mercator pad (path) . It is from the hand of architect/sculptor Raoul Biront (former student of Oscar Declerck - see "The Human Endeavour") and was inaugurated 23 August 2001. It was a gift to the city from Leuven's "Handelaarsverbond" (the mercantile union), to celebrate their 55th anniversary.

    Directions : from the center facing the town hall, walk down Brusselsestraat untill you're at the intersection where the river Dyle flows underneath. Keep to the right and follow the Dyle for about 300m - the Mercatorpad is to your right, you'll see the statue in front of you on the other side of the street (in front of the Euromut building).

    Mercator, who used to live on Mechelstraat
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    Mechelsestraat

    by Christophe_Ons Updated Aug 8, 2005

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    No motorvehicels are allowed in the first part (closest to the center) of this lovely street. It will lead you to the "Vismarkt" (Fish Market, although that is no longer the case).

    Although it's mainly lined with stores, the Mechelsestraat is a nice place to take a walk. Start behind St. Peter's church, at the small statue of Erasmus. There are a few clothing and shoe stores, some of the boutique variety, but they're nice. There's also a well known comic book store, "Gobelijn Strips".

    Note : the 16th century cartographer Mercator (1512-1594, renowned for his Atlas and earth/celestial globe) used to live on Mechelsestraat.

    Mechelsestraat, view from the
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    Handbooghof (Archer's Court)

    by Christophe_Ons Updated Aug 8, 2005

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    The Handbooghof (literally "Archer's Court") is a treelined path right off Brusselsestraat and runs along a sidearm of the river Dyle.

    It has the most complete of all the city's remnanst of the original 12th century ringwall (the original boundary of the inner city), including a tower - in which pigeons nest and sleep. There used to be a trench around the wall on the outside, making it easier to attack those trying to invade the city - hence the name "Archer's Court". Most of the medieval ringwall around Leuven has disappeared over the years and this is one of the last spots where you can see it up close.

    Directions : from the center facing the town hall, walk to the right and down Brusselsestraat. After the intersection where the river Dyle crosses underneath, walk ca. 200m further down Brusselsestraat, you'll see the Handbooghof path to your right.

    12th century tower at the Handbooghof pigeons taking a nap on the wall
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    De Menselijke Krachtinspanning ("Human Endeavour")

    by Christophe_Ons Written Aug 6, 2005

    Right outside the "Vanderkelen Museum"(the museum of Leuven's history), at the site where the public library used to be, there's this striking statue called "De Menselijke Krachtinspanning" ("The Human Endeavour") by Oscar Declerck, inaugurated in 1937. You can't miss it when visiting te museum.

    Directions : from the center facing the town hall, walk to your left and cross the adjacent square "Fochplein" and walk into Leuven's main street, the Bondgenotenlaan. The first street to your right is the Vanderkelenstraat, the statue is a bit further, to your right, in the front lawn of the block which houses the Vanderkelen city museum.

    Statue De Menselijke Krachtinspanning

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    Zwartzustersstraat

    by Christophe_Ons Written Aug 6, 2005

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    If you plan on visiting the Groot Begijnhof (Great Beguinage, see "Things To Do") don't just walk in and out the main entrance in Schapenstraat, but walk down the lovely and usually very quiet Zwartzustersstraat as well, it's a sidestreet of the Schapenstraat.
    The scene feels very "19th century" and the Zwartzustersstraat has wonderful views where it crosses the Dyle river, as well. There's also a side entrance to the Great Beguinage itself.

    Zwartzustersstraat near the Great Beguinage
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    Sint-Kwintenskerk (St.Quentin's Church) (2)

    by Christophe_Ons Written Aug 6, 2005

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    (continued)

    The windows that were restored twenty years ago now have colourful stained glass in them.

    Open: 1st April to 30th September 30: Saturday and Sunday from 01.30 p.m. - 04.30 p.m.

    Directions :
    The church is very near the Great Beguinage and worth including in your itinerary if you intend on visiting the latter. If you want to go there from the Great Beguinage, walk back up Zwartzustersstraat/Karmelietenberg and make a right when you reach Naamsestraat.

    If you want to go there directly from the center : it's a 15 minute walk up the Naamsestraat (which start in the center, right next to the town hall).
    Note that you'll pass sights like the Lakenhal, St-Michael's Church, and the areas of the Oude Markt, Damian Church and Oude Markt.

    street view of St-Kwintenskerk/St-Quentin's Church St-Kwintenskerk St-Kwintenskerk St-Kwintenskerk St-Kwintenskerk
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    Sint-Kwintenskerk (St.Quentin's Church) (1)

    by Christophe_Ons Written Aug 6, 2005

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    The Sint-Kwintenskerk on Naamsestraat is a fine example of Leuven's typical 15th-17th century "Brabant gothic style", but the tower base even dates back to 1252, when the original chapel was turned into a Romanesque parish church. It was rebuilt in gothic style in 1450. The nave has never reached the planned height because the tower was never pulled down. The vaulted choir is particularly noteworthy.

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    tower of St-Kwintenskerk / St-Quentin's church St-Kwintenskerk / St-Quentin's church St-Kwintenskerk / St-Quentin's church chapel in front of the church interior of the chapel in front of the church
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    Wolfspoort / Wolfsgang / Kalvarie Kapel (2)

    by Christophe_Ons Written Aug 6, 2005

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    Before walking through the gate, have a look at the plaque and the two wolves carved in stone to the right of the entrance. These stone reliefs were originally included in a now gone structure called Wolfspoort (Wolf's Gate) which existed from the 12th to the 18th century and have since been included in this brick wall which surrounds Van Dale College.

    Walk through the fence and up the stairs. There's a path between the trees, straight ahead - follow it.

    This place pretty much defines the term "off the beaten path". Unless you brought company, there's a good chance you'll be alone. I actually had to wait a few minutes to frame this shot with at least someone in it - a local taking his dog for a walk.

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    the path between Wolfspoort/Naamsestraat Wolfspoort entrance ahead
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    Wolfspoort / Wolfsgang / Kalvarie Kapel (1)

    by Christophe_Ons Written Aug 6, 2005

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    Not many people - and that includes locals - know this, but there's a passage (open to the public during the day) between Schapenstraat (the area of the Great Beguinage) and Naamsestraat (one of the main streets in Leuven) . If you come from the center through Parijsstraat and reach Damiaanplain (Father Damian Square), you're at the beginning of the Schapenstraat. As you walk down this street, you'll notice a red brick wall with a black wrenched iron gate. This is the entry to the Wolfsgang (Wolf's Passage).

    (read more below)

    looking down the stairs from the Wolvengang Wolfspoort, side of Schapenstraat after walking up the stairs, look down on Schapens
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    The Kotmadam

    by Christophe_Ons Written Aug 6, 2005

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    On the Oude Markt it's hard to miss the bench with the statue "De Kotmadam" by Fred Bellefroid (born 1945 in Zonhoven), it was revealed in 1984.

    A"kot" is Dutch slang for a student room - in most cases with barebones facilities like a sink - more often than not it's just one of the many rooms in a row house in the city, in which several students share facilities like a bathroom and kitchen.

    A "kotmadam" is the owner / landlady of such a building. In some cases - it's more of an old custom, really - the lady of the house which rented out rooms would still live in, and prepare meals for the students and keep their rooms tidy - and, most importantly, would also help the students out when they needed help or someone to turn to... Some sort of surrogate mother during the academical year, if you wish.

    In honour of all "kotmadammen" who would do their best to accommodate and care for several students from all over the country/world, the city erected this statue in 1984 on the Oude Markt - the Mecca of student life.

    Directions : from the center facing the town hall, walk to the right corner of the Grote Markt and turn into the Kortestraat. This short street leads to the Oude Markt. Continue until you are nearly at the center of the square (at the intersection) and look to the right - there she sits on a bench.

    The Kotmadam statue, Leuven
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    Wagehuys & Romaanse Poort / Kapel

    by Christophe_Ons Updated Aug 5, 2005

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    Only steps from where the river Dyle crosses Brusselsestraat, you'll see a chapel and a gate leading to a small square. The entire site was restored in 1999 and appointed to the Cultural Center and the Youth Service of the city. It comprises three parts :

    The Wagehuys (Carriage House) currently serves as a 174-seat theater where the Cultural Center of Leuven (30CC) stages plays, ceremonies, etc ... the entrance to the foyer is in the back, to the right of the small square between the chapel and houses.

    The adjacent chapel of the Romaanse Poort (Roman Gate) used to be part of a convent and is currently being used for concerts and exhibits, by 30CC as well. The entrance is nearly a thousand years old - it dates back to the 12th century.

    The houses of the convent is where the Youth Meeting Service of Leuven is located - children's parties and other activities are held here.

    It's worth taking a stroll across the square, and to the back side of the chapel.

    Directions : from the center facing the town hall, walk down Brusselsestraat (on your right) until you cross the river Dyle, the site is ca. 200m further, to your left.

    Back side of the Roman Chapel
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