After passing the morning in Mechelen, we took a train to pass the afternoon in Leuven, one of the most beautiful cities in Flanders. Do you want to know what we did there?
Leuven is very well connected with Mechelen, and also with Brussels. With the train we planted in less than half an hour in the center. It is a city that has a lot to offer and to which several days can be dedicated but, since we did not have that time, we decided make a bike tour of the city to make the most of the afternoon.
For this we went to the office that Leuven Leisure It has very close to the town hall. At the first stop of the route we met Alfonsito, a statue that the university gave to the city in the seventies and that has now become one of its symbols. Leuven is very famous at European level for the university and the various faculties that compose it. There are currently about 50,000 university students that make the city have a very lively atmosphere.
In front of the statue of Alfonso stands one of the jewels of the city: the Leuven town hall, which is one of the most beautiful in Flanders. It was built in the mid-fifteenth century in Gothic Brabantino style and presides over the Grote Markt together with the church of San Pedro. What is most surprising about the town hall structure is that the three visible faces of the building are fully ornamented.
There are 236 statues distributed on the facade that represent important Leuven characters, saints and patrons, all presided over by the counts of Leuven and the Dukes of Brabant. A curiosity: the statues were not placed until 1850. Apparently, the writer Victor Hugo convinced the city authorities that the facade would gain a lot if all the empty canopies were filled.
Our bicycle route followed by pedestrian streets with the typical cobblestone of Flanders in the direction of the longest bar in Europe, and is that the Oude Martk square It is known by that name. This is due to the great concentration of bars and restaurants there. It was Saturday and it was a sunny afternoon and warm enough to be March, so the square was full of people enjoying a beer on the terraces.
Five minutes from the square we find another of the essential buildings of the city. The Leuven central library It was one of the most important in Europe, but during the First World War it was set on fire and 900,000 historical books were burned. This was such a commotion that in the twenties, and with the support of the United States, a new library was built in Flemish Renaissance style. The library has the largest chime in Belgium, with 63 bells, and its interior houses a collection of one million books that can be read in its beautiful reading room.