When visiting or just wandering around in Leuven, everybody knows which highlights they have to see: the city hall, the Grand Béguinage, the university library, … But have you ever wondered what else Leuven has to offer? Which gems it might be hiding away?
It is difficult to find a more romantic park in Leuven than the Dijlepark. Somewhat hidden between the Schapenstraat, Redingenstraat and the Grand Béguinage you can find this little secret park. The garden house and the bridge over the little pond give this place a really romantic vibe. You can see why this is being called ‘the Paradise of Leuven’. 😉 Perfect for a picknick or reading a book!
Have you seen the Janseniustower already? It was part of the first city wall of Leuven almost 1000 years ago. After the new city wall was built in the 14th century, this gate and tower lost their purpose and fell into decay. In the 17th century however, the theologian Jansenius, founder of the Jansenists, studied in Leuven and decided to renovate this old tower and live in it. This is how the tower got its name. Nowadays it is the office of the Catholic School Community of Leuven KSLeuven. Recently a new neighbourhood was built from where this picture was taken, called the Janseniushof.
This is without any doubt one of our favorite streets in Leuven. Between the busy Maria-Theresiastraat and Bondgenotenlaan, you will find this quiet oasis of peace and quiet. It is a very picturesque street with its cobblestone streets, little colourful houses and their decorations. You’ll even find a mural by local street artist Bisser here! We always like to wander through here when we can.
Garden de Walque
This little park is even more hidden away than the Dijlepark! The only entrance to the park is a little gate called the ‘Straatjesgang’ under the Arnould Nobelstraat 11. Make sure you don’t just walk past it since it just looks like the entrance to an appartement building. Garden De Walque used to be a huge private garden in the middle of the city, but it got opened to the public in 2000. Nowadays it is perfect for joggers or for a nice quiet picknick on a sunny day.
Chapel of Saint Lambert
There is more to see in the Arenbergpark than the castle of Arenberg. A bit hidden away between the trees you will find this little chapel of Saint Lambert. It is about 1000 years old and therefore the oldest chapel in the nearby region! Today it is used a lot for weddings and you can see why. The walls have been replaced by huge windows and you have the feeling that you are sitting in the middle of the forest. Such a romantic little spot!
And finally the Thiéry facade at the Saint Gertrude abbey. Also a very well hidden, but interesting piece of Leuven’s history. You will notice the weird, eclectic architectural style of the facade immediatly. This has to do with its building process: it was constructed with the facade debris of the ruins of Leuven after the devastating destruction of the First World War. It was designed and built by Armand Thiéry, a professor of the Catholic University of Leuven who was also involved in the construction of the new university library of Leuven, together with future American president Herbert Hoover. After the First World War he roamed the streets of Leuven with his wheelbarrow, looking for building parts he could use for this facade. In the afterwar chaos he also didn’t care about any building regulations and just let his imagination flow freely. He even constructed a strategically placed window so he could follow the mass in the Saint Gertrude church without even leaving his house! It’s without doubt one of the most creative houses in Leuven! Do you like its eclectic style?