Leuven Town Hall
|o Mayor||Mohamed Ridouani (sp.a)|
|o Governing party/ies||SP.A, CD&V, groen|
|o Total||56.63 km2 (21.86 sq mi)|
|Population (1 January 2017)|
|o Density||1,800/km2 (4,600/sq mi)|
|Postal codes||3000, 3001, 3010, 3012, 3018|
Leuven (Dutch: ['lø:v?(n)]) or Louvain (French: Louvain, pronounced [luv]; German: Löwen) is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in Belgium. It is located about 25 kilometres (16 miles) east of Brussels. The municipality itself comprises the historic city and the former neighbouring municipalities of Heverlee, Kessel-Lo, a part of Korbeek-Lo, Wilsele and Wijgmaal. It is the eighth largest city in Belgium and the fourth in Flanders with more than 100,244 inhabitants (Federal Ministry of Home Affairs, 1/11/2016).
Leuven is home to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the largest and oldest university of the Low Countries and the oldest Catholic university still in existence. The related university hospital of UZ Leuven is one of the largest hospitals in Europe. The city is also known for being the headquarters of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer and one of the five largest consumer-goods companies in the world.
The earliest mention of Leuven (Loven) dates from 891, when a Viking army was defeated by the Frankish king Arnulf of Carinthia (see: Battle of Leuven). According to a legend, the city's red and white arms depict the blood-stained shores of the river Dyle after this battle.
Situated beside this river, and near to the stronghold of the Dukes of Brabant, Leuven became the most important centre of trade in the duchy between the 11th and 14th centuries. A token of its former importance as a centre of cloth manufacture is shown in that ordinary linen cloth was known, in late-14th-century and 15th-century texts, as lewyn (other spellings: Leuwyn, Levyne, Lewan(e), Lovanium, Louvain).
In the 18th century, the brewery Den Horen (meaning "the horn") flourished. In 1708, Sebastien Artois became the master brewer at Den Horen, and gave his name to the brewery in 1717, now part of AB InBev, whose flagship beer, Stella Artois, is brewed in Leuven and sold in many countries.
In the 20th century, both world wars inflicted major damage upon the city. Upon Germany's entry into World War I, the town was heavily damaged by rampaging soldiers. In all, about 300 civilians lost their lives. The university library was also destroyed on 25 August 1914, using petrol and incendiary pastilles. 230,000 volumes were lost in the destruction, including Gothic and Renaissance manuscripts, a collection of 750 medieval manuscripts, and more than 1,000 incunabula (books printed before 1501). The destruction of the library shocked the world, with the Daily Chronicle describing it as war not only against civilians but also against "posterity to the utmost generation." It was rebuilt after the war, and much of the collection was replaced. Great Britain (on the initiative of the John Rylands Library in Manchester) and the United States were major providers of material for the replenishment of the collection. The new library building was financed by the National Committee of the United States for the Restoration of the University of Louvain and built to the design of architect Whitney Warren; it was officially opened on 4 July 1928. Richard Harding Davis, a war correspondent for the New York Tribune, was in Leuven (or Louvain, in Davis' account) and wrote a column titled "The Germans Were Like Men After an Orgy" in which he described the organized civilian murders and vandalism committed by the occupying troops.
In World War II, after the start of the German offensive, Leuven formed part of the British Expeditionary Force's front line and was defended by units of the 3rd Division and Belgian troops. From 14 to 16 May 1940, the German Army Group B assaulted the city with heavy air and artillery support. The British withdrew their forces to the River Senne on the night of 16 May and the town was occupied the next day. The new university library building was set on fire by shelling, on 16 May, and nearly a million books were lost.
|Climate data for Leuven (1981-2010)|
|Average high °C (°F)||5.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||3.2
|Average low °C (°F)||0.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||70.5
|Average precipitation days||12.6||10.9||12.9||9.9||11.3||10.7||10.4||10.2||10.6||11.1||11.9||12.7||135.2|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||56||74||119||170||202||197||210||200||143||118||63||46||1,597|
Given the presence of the KU Leuven, Europe's most innovative university according to Reuters, much of the local economy is concentrated on spin-offs from academic research. In addition, the Leuven-based research centre, IMEC, is a world class research centre in the field of nano-electronics and digital technologies.[better source needed] As a result, dozens of companies in high technological fields such as biotech, robotics, additive manufacturing and IT, are located near these research institutes on the Arenberg Science Park and Haasrode Research-Park. Quite a few international companies such as Siemens, Huawei,Nitto Denko, JSR Corporation or Commscope have important, often research oriented branches, in Leuven. The academic hospital Gasthuisberg is another advanced research institute. It is one of Europe's largest and most advanced hospitals. As a result, large numbers of private service providers are active in the medical, financial and legal fields.
Because it is the capital of the region of Flemish Brabant, many governmental institutions are located in Leuven, as well as the regional headquarters of transport corporations such as De Lijn. As one of Flanders Art-Cities, with a large range of cafés, restaurants, cultural institutions and shopping neighbourhoods, Leuven also attracts a fair share of tourists.
Leuven is the worldwide headquarters of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the largest beer company in the world and is considered one of the largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies in the world. InBev's Stella Artois brewery and main offices dominate the entire north-eastern part of the town, between the railway station and the canal to Mechelen.
As of 1 November 2016, the population of Leuven was 100,244. The arrondissement of Leuven counted 494,189 in 2014.
Nowadays, Leuven has a large Dutch-speaking student population (with more than 55,000 students enrolled in 2014-15), mainly concentrated around the city centre. The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven; University of Leuven) is the oldest Catholic university still in existence in the world, and the largest university in Belgium. There are also a number of hogescholen (technical universities, literally translated: "high schools"), such as the UCLL (the UC Leuven-Limburg).
Within the city and its immediate surroundings, most distances can be covered on foot or with a bicycle. Several streets are off-limits to vehicle traffic and, within the city centre, road speed regulations prescribe 30 km/h (19 mph) as the maximum speed limit, making it a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly city. There are also a few car parking lots.
There are numerous buses, primarily from the public transport company De Lijn, that connect the city with the region while providing travel options within the city centre. The so-called Ringbus follows the ring road of the city. Except for long distance routes (such as to other cities) and other irregular bus services, most buses come by every 10 minutes. Buses 616, 652 and 651 connect Leuven with Brussels Airport.
Leuven railway station is located on the NMBS railway lines 35 (Leuven - Aarschot - Hasselt), 36 (Brussels - Liège), 36N (Schaarbeek - Leuven), 53 (Schellebelle - Leuven), and 139 (Leuven - Ottignies). In Bierbeek, south-west of Leuven, lies the beginning of HSL 2, the high-speed railway towards Liège.
The current mayor of Leuven is Louis Tobback, a socialist prominent on the national level, formerly minister of internal affairs and leader of the socialist faction in the lower chamber of the Belgian parliament, among other positions held. The governing coalition consists of SP.A (16 out of 45 seats in the municipal council) and CD&V (9 seats). The opposition is composed of N-VA (9 seats), Groen! (7 seats), open VLD (3 seats) and Vlaams Belang (1 seat). Following the result of the 2018 Belgian local elections, from 1 January 2019, the new governing coalition will consist of SP.A (14 out of 47 seats), Groen! (10 seats) and CD&V (8 seats), with SP.A providing the mayor with Mohamed Ridouani. The opposition will be composed of N-VA (11 seats), open VLD (2 seats), PVDA (1 seat) and Vlaams Belang (1 seat).
One of Belgium's conservatories is based in Leuven: the Lemmens Institute, which is described as "Faculty of Music, Performing Arts and Education". It is known for its Music Therapy Education and its Wordart-Drama Education. Kunstencentrum STUK is a cultural centre and venue in the city center for music, theatre, sound art, and dance. Leuven is well known for its summer rock festival, Marktrock. Leuven also has some famous university orchestras, such as the University Symphony Orchestra (USO), the University Symphonic Band (UHO) and the Arenberg Orchestra (Arenbergorkest).
In September 2009, the 'M - Museum Leuven' opened in Leuven. It is a museum for both contemporary and historical art, located near het Ladeuzeplein. It has hosted exhibitions by international artists such as Angus Fairhurst, Sol LeWitt, Roe Ethridge and Charles Burns as well as Belgian artists such as Ilse D'Hollander, Jan Vercruysse, Antoon Van Dyck and Freek Wambacq.
Leuven also has a rich beer culture, being the birthplace of several beers such as Stella Artois, Leuvense Tripel, Domus and Keizersberg. It also has several bars priding themselves in offering a wide variety of local and international beers, including a bar that claims to offer more than 3000 different beers.
The main football club of the municipality is Oud-Heverlee Leuven, successor of Stade Leuven. The city's prime basketball team are the Leuven Bears. They play their home games in the SportOase. The Cyclocross Leuven is a cyclo-cross race held in January.
Leuven is twinned with:
Aside from the aforementioned cities, Leuven has friendly relations with: