The centre of Leuven has many historical places and buildings. One of the most famous monuments is ‘Het Fonske’, a statue at the Rector De Somer square. It shows a student pouring beer over his head while reading a book. In 1975 it was given to the KUL for its 550th birthday.
The Lakenhal is a big gothic building, dating from 1317. Originally, it was a place for cloth weavers to sell their products. Later the local authorities gave the hall to the KUL as a ground rent/long lease?
The Kruidtuin, originally a collection of medical plants, is the oldest botanical garden of Belgium. It was opened in 1738 and it consists of 2,2 hectares of trees, bushes and shrubs. There’s also a big conservatory with tropical and subtropical species.
Some people talk about ‘the seven wonders of Leuven’: only 3 of them can still be visited
– the tower without nails: the Sint-Geertrui church was finished in 1453. During the construction of the tower, not one nail was used. This was possible because it was completely made out of limestone/freestone?, they didn’t use any wood.
– the bell outside of the tower: since 1478, one of the bells from the St. Jacobs Chuch is hanging outside of the tower. Because of this strange bell, people came up with several myths to explain why it’s hanging there.
– the altar outside of the church: The gothic St Michiels Church looks like a big altar from the outside. That’s why people start calling it “the altar outside of the church”.
– the living walking under the dead: in 1781, the rampart of Leuven had church built on top of one of its gates. Those days, notable people were buried in the church. So when someone was going through the gate, he would walk under the dead. The rampart completely disappeared in 1851.
– people walking under tree roots: another part of the rampart of Leuven had several elms growing on top of it, also right above a gate. So when people were going through the gate, they would walk under the tree roots.
– the water flowing upstream: there’s a legend that talks about the Fiere Margriet, a girl who was murdered and thrown into De Dijle. They say her body was flowing upstream, which was hard to believe. But it was possible because of the sluices which had an influence on the stream of the water. The statue of the Fiere Margriet is up until now exhibited at the terraces at De Dijle.
– The tower lower than the church: the baroque church from the 17th century, located in the monastery of Ongeschoeide Karmelietessen didn’t have a tower. The bell-tower was situated on top of the sacristy and didn’t even reach the ridge of the roof. The monastery was torn down in 1808.