You’ve heard of the Seven World Wonders, but have you heard of the Seven Leuven Wonders? Some of them have sadly been demolished throughout the years, but you are still able to visit some of the others.
The tower without nails – Saint Gertrude’s Church
You heard it right! The tower of the Saint-Gertrudechurch was built without using a single nail! This is because it is a solid, bluestone tower, they did not use any wood or roof tiles. As a result you can watch through the stone skeleton of the tower.
The churchbell outside of the tower – Saint Jacob’s Church
As you can see, the churchbell is hanging outside of the churchtower. Throughout the years a couple of stories have tried to explain this odd architectural choice. The explanation of the first story is fairly is simple: it is just so the people of the parish could hear the bell ring better. The argument in the second story is that the bell had not been consecrated and so it could impossibly be placed on the inside of the church. The third and last story is a bit similar. It says that the bell was a gift from the socialists, but socialists and catholics didn’t have the best relation in the past, so it could not be placed on the inside of the church. Which story do you think is (more likely to be) true?
The living walk beneath the dead – (Old) Saint Michael’s Church
The previous Saint-Michael’s Church of Leuven was a Romanesque church in the Tiensestraat. The church, the old city wall and the old city gate (the Hoelstraatpoort) were all closely connected, and part of the cemetery was placed on top of the old city gate. As a result, the living people walked underneath the dead. The church got destroyed in 1781 because it became more and more dilapidated.
The water runs against the stream
The river Dijle streams throughout the entire city of Leuven. It separates into many branches and therefore the city constructed many locks all over the city to control the waterflow. They were able to control it to such an extent that they could make the water go upstream at the lock of the Oratoriënhof! The river branch where they were able to do this is now removed, so it is not possible anymore. This explains part of the legend of Fiere Margriet (Proud Margaret). After her corpse was tossed into the river Dijle, it drifted upstream instead of downstream. This is how her murder got solved! If you want to learn more about this legend, we dedicated a post to it on our Facebook and Instagrampage on the 11th of October 2016.
People walk beneath the trees – Tervuursepoort
It wasn’t only possible to walk beneath the dead in Leuven, it was also possible to walk beneath the trees. Seven elmtrees grew on top of the gatebuilding of the Tervuursepoort. The gate was completely removed in 1851 and there is nothing of it left nowadays.
The altar outside the church – Saint Michael’s Church
The Saint-Michael’s Church in the Naamsestraat is the only Baroque church in Leuven between the majority of Gothic churches. Because it is the only Baroque church, the people of Leuven weren’t used to that much decoration. The façade of the church is so heavily decorated, that it resembles an altar.
The tower is lower than the church – Theresian Monastery, Tiensestraat
There used to be a Theresian monastery in the Tiensestraat. This monastery didn’t have a real tower attached to it like most monasteries do. It did have a really small bell tower however, as you can see here on this picture. It barely reaches the monastery’s roof. In 1783 the monastery was abolished and was used as a military barracks. This didn’t last very long, as the building was sold and destroyed in 1808.