Looking for a relaxed atmosphere, beautiful views and the opportunity to learn more about the history of Leuven? Then, make your way to the Leuven University Library. Architecture and history lovers staying in the city should have the library on their must-see list.
A troubled past
The Leuven University Library's origins date back to the early 19th century when the State University was established, however, the current building of the library was constructed in the 1920 as the old building was burned down by the German forces in in 1914. During World War II the building was once again burned partially and much of its contents destroyed.
Standing tall and grand
After having risen from the ashes twice, the Leuven University Library as it stands today is a landmark and icon in the city. Learn more about the university library's turbulent history and its impact on the city, at the fifth floor of the library tower. A photo exhibition takes you to five significant periods in the library's history. The library is open to the public and once inside you can see a miniature model of the library, as well as several installations showcasing the history of the building. Don't miss the wonderful reading room, completely made of wood, from the floors to the shelves. If you're lucky, there might be a temporary exhibition you can enjoy as well. Otherwise, spend some time soaking in the atmosphere or leafing through the library's impressive collection of books.
As you step inside these impressive halls, take in the stunning Neo-Flemish Renaissance architecture. The 73.5-meter bell tower also contains a carillon, an instrument consisting of 63 swinging bells. If you wish to see the carillon, you have to contact the library in advance. Climb the 300 metal stairs to the bell tower to admire beautiful vistas of the city. The tower is open for visitors seven days a week. However, make sure that you check the Library Tower opening hours before heading over.
More to see
After a visit to the library, you can stop by Town Hall, where ornately designed sculptures create an intricate facade. Make sure you don't miss out on a walk through the Great Beguinage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a ‘city within the city'.