There are a few basic places in Leuven that you absolutely need to see when you visit the city. This article will show you the most important places in Leuven and explain why you should visit them. Of course there are many other buildings worth visiting, such as the university buildings, but I will not focus on those buildings in this article.
If you arrive in Leuven by train and walk straight ahead into the "Bondgenotenlaan" when you exit the station you will automatically arrive at the heart of Leuven where the beautiful city hall is situated. Its architecture makes it a pleasure to see and you won't easily forget this Gothic building. The outside of the building is decorated with many statues and is decorated with colorful lights that change color in December.
Next to the city hall is the Saint Peter's church situated. If you look up at the church while standing in front of the city hall you can see a golden figurine standing next to a bell. Every hour he slams his hammer on the bell (so 1 hit for 1 o'clock, 2 hits for 2 o'clock, ...). I only discovered this in my second year in Leuven since you won't notice it if you don't look up at the church. It is a fun detail that makes it nice to see.
If you walk past the church and the city hall and go right into the street of the McDonald, you will arrive at the old market. This place is very known to all the students in Leuven, since this is the major place they go to on Thursday evenings to have fun and party. All around the market cafés are situates so it is up to you where you want to go to. Personally I don't like to drink something there, I like the cafés situated in the street "Bondgenotenlaan"way more. If you like chocolate mousse, you absolutely need to go to "Café Leffe", they have the best three layered homemade chocolate mousse in Leuven.
This square is in front of the main university library and is the home of the statue of a giant beetle on a needle. This statue was a gift from the university of KU Leuven to the city as a gift for their 575th birthday. Jan Fabre, who also made "searching for Utopia", worked for four years on the statue to complete it and made it true to a real scarab beetle. Next to this square the M-Museum is situated, they recently reopened with a new exhibition and so it might be interesting to visit. If you would like to visit this museum and the university library I will mention later on in this article, it might be interesting to ask for a pass to enter both of them.
This is the main library building of the KU Leuven university and is another wonderful building to take a look at. Since the library is home to a lot of valuable books, only students of KU Leuven can enter for free. But for a small price you can take a look at the inside of the building as well and maybe even visit the tower to get an amazing look on the city itself. Every day many students use the library to study, so just be careful to not make too much noise or use the flash on your camera where students are studying and everyone will be able to enjoy the visit. Also in about this building is the carillon that is situated in the tower. Sometimes it is still played and you can walk through Leuven hearing the theme song of the movies Pirates of the Caribbean and so on.
There are two major shopping streets in Leuven, placed next to each other. I would advise to start at the station in the street "Bondgenotenlaan" and once you arrive at the Saint Peter's Church, you can enter the street "Diestsestraat" and continue your shopping. What many people don't know, is that if you cross the market square at the church you will arrive in the street "Brusselsestraat" where some other shops are located as well (only in the beginning of the street, until you get at the street where cars pass by).
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