Saturday, November 6, 2010


Leuven is just twenty minutes East of Brussels by train. I had never heard of Leuven before Kristen spoke about doing her MA in philosophy at the university there. It may be familiar to observant drinkers of Stella Artois, as Leuven is home to the brewery and the name appears on the beer's label.

KU Leuven University Library

Leuven has been a university town since the middle ages, when the university was founded in 1425. In the late 1960s, a feud between the French and Dutch-speaking factions of the university caused the two groups to split. KU Leuven became a Dutch-speaking university, while the French moved to Louvain-la-Neuve and founded the French-speaking Université Catholique de Louvain.

During First World War the university library was burned by the Germans. After the war, the Americans rebuilt the library only to have it burnt by the Germans again during the Second World War. It's a beautiful library and the names of the American universities that made donations towards its reconstruction after WWII are carved into its stones.

The bizarre bug-on-a-sewing-needle public art in the square opposite the library.

Leuven is probably not somewhere you would typically visit as a tourist unless you knew someone there, such as I did. The abbey there, however, was one of the highlights of my trip.

Cows grazing in the fields near the abbey.

The Belgian countryside is so beautiful. Sitting across the lake from the abbey I seemed to suddenly understand what inspired the northern painters' rich pallets: the dark green, burgundy, amber and orange leaves.

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