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9.4.24

How a Leuvenaar bakery turned into a sociocultural entity

In my wholehearted endorsement of Leuven's bid to become the European Capital of Culture, I've chosen to highlight local initiatives that merit wider recognition. I'm revisiting Papel com Clips after a lengthy hiatus. While I've stepped back from sharing my personal life on social media for many years—a practice that will continue—I now see this platform as a valuable opportunity to promote and elevate other projects. This shift marks a new chapter in how I engage with social media, focusing on amplifying the voices and endeavours that contribute to the cultural richness of Leuven and beyond. 

Patricia's journey to Leuven was neither easy nor planned. Originally from Venezuela, she moved to Belgium to follow her then-Belgian partner, only to find herself a victim of domestic violence. With two young children in tow, she sought refuge in a crisis centre, a stone's throw from the eventual home of the Plant Dragon. In Leuven, Patricia found the strength to re-birth, a testament to her unyielding spirit and refusal to let her dreams be destroyed. 

Despite the challenges, Patricia never gave up. She worked as a cleaner, baking in her free time to support her family. Her innate creativity shone through in her recipes, quickly gaining popularity, and even earning her a spot on the TV show Bake Off Vlaanderen. This exposure was a turning point, enabling her to overcome obstacles and finally open her own vegan bakery, the Plant Dragon, at Bogaardenstraat 24.

From the moment she opened the doors to the Plant Dragon, Patricia was determined to make it more than just a bakery. Her initial act was to take some of her cakes to the social workers at the crisis centre, a symbolic gesture of gratitude and a bridge to her new life. Her warm smile and captivating personality have made the bakery a magnet for those seeking connection. The Plant Dragon is a haven where people gather to talk, create art, draft, and crochet, all while enjoying Patricia's delicious creations.

Understanding the power of her story, Patricia has made it her mission to hire individuals with disabilities and those from less privileged backgrounds. She also finds it vital to extend her support to refugees, by creating a mini gallery and selling arts and crafts produced by them. Furthermore, she empowers women by giving them the chance to co-create workshops with her, such as the much-loved yoga classes combined with a vegan brunch. 

The Plant Dragon's evolution showcases how businesses can extend their impact beyond commerce, becoming pillars of support and cultural enrichment. In doing so, the bakery has redefined what it means to be a part of Leuven's community, embodying the true spirit of a socio-cultural entity. 

Follow Plant Dragon on Instagram and support this wonderful vegan bakery. 


Plant Dragon

Plant Dragon Facete Leuven

Plant Dragon Patricia Leuven

Brownies Plant Dragon Vegan Leuven


art Vegan Leuven




11.11.18

Discovering Genk: A Weekend Getaway Guide

Hello folks,

As you may know, I'm an expat living in Belgium, a country that never ceases to amaze me with its chocolate, beer, and endless surprises. Even after more than four years here, I'm still discovering charming new places.

Although I've visited Genk before, I never really had the chance to thoroughly enjoy the town. Spending a weekend there recently was a delightful experience, especially seeing how culture and nature blend seamlessly. From the acclaimed "The World of Tim Burton" exhibition to the serene cycling routes in De Wijers nature reserve, Genk has quickly become a favourite of mine.

On a sunny weekend in late September, Christian and I took a train from Leuven to Genk, a journey of about an hour. The ride offered stunning views of Limburg's lush green fields, reminiscent of landscapes that inspired painters like Emile Van Doren. It was the perfect autumn day, with a clear blue sky and birds chirping. Our first destination was the town's cultural hotspot: C-Mine. It's fascinating how the city has repurposed the old mine buildings into a vibrant, modern space. The "The World of Tim Burton" exhibition was whimsical and exciting, bringing back fond memories of my childhood fascination with Edward Scissorhands. For me, a compelling exhibition is a highlight of any city break, and Genk excels in this. Another memorable part of our visit was exploring the mine's tunnels and headframe, enhanced by a virtual reality experience that took us back to the 1950s mining boom. This insight into the town's heritage, shaped by a diverse community working together, was truly heartwarming.

Historically, miners celebrated December 4th, Saint Barbara's Day, by sharing delicacies from their homelands. This tradition of sharing, known in Dutch as "partaasch" (from the French "partager"), inspired one of the town's finest restaurants, Partaasch. Our dinner there was a celebration of multicultural culinary delights, embodying the spirit of community over individualism. The chefs, Steven and Loredana, brilliantly fuse ingredients and flavours from various cultures into a delectable experience. And for fellow dessert lovers, their divine cannoli is a must-try.

After a memorable evening at Partaasch, we stayed at the M-Hotel, my top choice in Genk. Christian raved about the breakfast selection, especially the fresh fruits, and I loved the lake and park views. On Sunday, we rented bicycles near the train station to explore Genk's outskirts, including the unique "cycle through water" path. Our route through Bokrijk and De Wijers was enchanting, offering sights like a historical farm and the beautiful Bokrijk castle.

For those with extra energy, I recommend extending your tour to Thor Park in the city's north, home to the Partaasch restaurant and a former coal mine now serving as a start-up incubator. The park's vast fields are perfect for cycling and picnicking. If you're planning a longer stay in Genk, consider day trips to other beautiful Limburg towns like Tongeren and Hasselt. For more details on our trip, check out the video below and subscribe to the Papel com Clips YouTube channel for updates on our adventures.



genk belgium blue sky

Check the video below and discover more about our trip to Genk



labyrinth genk
belgian getaways


natural reserve De Wijers


partaasch genk review

24.10.18

Unlocking the Past: How Park Abbey Merges History with Future Dialogues

Hello folks,

Park Abbey, a peaceful green spot south of Leuven, is popular among locals for jogging or relaxing with a book. However, many are unaware that it also houses PARCUM, a museum focused on religion, art, and culture, right in its centre.

The Park Abbey was founded in 1129 when Geoffrey I, Duke of Brabant, donated this area of his hunting grounds around Leuven to the Premonstratensians, an order founded by St. Norbert of Xanten. The Duke was keen on improving the religious and social infrastructure of the area to maintain his power and prestige in the Brabantian heartlands, and he succeeded. The monastery played an important role from the late Middle Ages until the XVII century, producing and protecting manuscripts and books, including the famous Park Abbey Illuminated Bible, dated **from** 1148, today displayed at the British Library in London. The canons also worked hard to establish the economic base of the abbey, which includes, besides four large fish ponds, a watermill and many gardens **that are** still being used for organic farming today. The beautiful buildings thrived over the centuries, with formerly one of the largest collections of stained glass windows produced by Jean de Caumont in the XVII century, depicting the spiritual journey of St. Norbert, and one of the most renowned carillons of the Low Lands with 40 bells.

Unfortunately, to survive the severe periods of political and financial crisis during the XVIII and XIX centuries, a myriad of relics, art pieces, and books of the Abbey were sold. Many of them are spread around the world. However, to our joy, much progress **has been made** in recovering the objects during the last decades. Thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers, art buffs, and friends of the Park Abbey, valuable items **have been returned** to their original home, including most of the wonderful stained glass windows. Furthermore, the Abbey **has been** restored and lovely surprises **are being revealed**, such as medieval frescoes that were hidden behind paintings from the XVI century in the chapter hall.

Leuven is home to the oldest university in Belgium, KU Leuven. The same spirit that inspires students from all over the world to come to this city throughout centuries, is also present at PARCUM. The new museum invites believers and non-believers, people with different ideologies and backgrounds, to a dialogue. Its new exhibition, named "Religion. Healing. Dividing," encourages visitors to reflect on the duality of religion, which causes conflicts, and destruction, but also unites. To create this exhibition inside the heart of a 900-year-old historic Abbey is a revolutionary act. In critical times when we suffer from a wave of hate speech and intolerance, places like PARCUM deserve our sincere recognition and appreciation.

The new "Religion. Healing. Dividing" exhibition will be open to the public from the 8th November 2018 until the 10th March 2019. On the 11th of November 2018, the new carillons, replacing the original version that was burned during WWI, will be inaugurated by playing peace songs all day long. Thus, I deeply recommend you plan your visit on this day. Furthermore, children are especially welcome at PARCUM, which offers workshops exclusively for the little ones. 


 Check the video below for more details. 

visiting the PARCUM museum in Leuven




Practical Information

Address:
Abdij van Park 7
3001 Leuven

Contact:
Telephone: T +32 16 40 01 51
info@parcum.be
Website: https://www.parcum.be

Opening Hours:
Tuesday - Sunday from 10h to 17h
Closed
Mondays & public holidays



You can see more photos of my trips on Instagram and videos on Youtube

14.10.18

How a Flemish Museum is Renovating the Image of a WWI Martyr City

Hello folks,

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

Ypres, renowned as the focal point of WWI battlefields between the Allied and Central Powers, holds a narrative far beyond its emblematic role in Great War remembrance. Nestled in West Flanders, Belgium, Ypres boasts over a millennium of rich history, now eagerly shared by its residents with the world.

To bring its storied past to a global audience, Ypres proudly unveiled the new interactive Yper Museum. And no, that's not a typo; the museum's name intentionally varies from the city's to embrace its French (Ypres), Dutch (Ieper), and German (Ypern) denominations, paying homage to its medieval moniker, Ypra. Its home? The iconic Cloth Hall – a testament to Ypres's heritage. This 13th-century edifice, once a bustling hub for the cloth trade and nearly obliterated during WWI, now serves as a cultural nexus, housing the Tourism Office and the renowned In Flanders Fields Museum.

The Yper Museum emerges as a vibrant space for visitors of all ages. Upon entry, cat’s paw wristbands are provided, allowing guests to tailor their journey through Ypres’s epochs, from its cloth trade glory to the plague's dark days. Children are engaged through Katelyne and her cat Leon's video guide, making history accessible and fun. The museum thoughtfully includes child-centric attractions, like the 3D medieval city model and an exploratory cave, ensuring a memorable learning experience for younger guests.

Ypres's tumultuous history of political entanglements with Europe's major powers is presented with a distinct sense of humour. Exhibits, such as humorous badges unearthed from the moat featuring comical designs, and a mini-cinema summarizing Ypres's numerous invasions in a light-hearted video, showcase the city's enduring spirit. This spicy humour captivated my husband and me, adding a unique flavour to our museum experience.

The exhibition culminates in a celebration of influential Ypres women from the 19th and 20th centuries, highlighting figures like photographer Madame Léontine Antony-Permbeke, lacemaker Clara Lamotte, and painter Louise De Hem. In a historical narrative often dominated by male perspectives, the museum's focus on women's stories and achievements is refreshing and inspiring, encouraging recognition of female role models.

The Yper Museum stands out as an exceptionally interactive and family-friendly destination, offering a personalised experience for every visitor. Furthermore, it's great to remember that places torn apart by war have a story before the destruction that should not be forgotten. With the Yper Museum, we view this place through new eyes. For more details, check out the video of our tour.






Practical Information

Address: 
Lakenhallen Grote Markt 34
8900 Ieper | Tel. 057 239 220

Opening Hours:
From 1 April to 15 November - daily from 10 am to 6 pm
From 16 November to 31 March - from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm;
closed Mondays
Annual closing - 2 last weeks of January

Prices: 
Individual - Yper Museum
adults                         7 EUR
youth (19-25)             4 EUR
children (7-18)            3,5 EUR
children (-7)               free
families                      15 EUR
(2 ad and 3 ch <18)               

Group - Yper Museum
mixed groups              5 EUR
schools/youth              3 EUR

For more practical information visit the Yper Museum website.

You can see more photos of my trips on Instagram and videos on Youtube





6.9.18

Tongeren | An ancient Belgian city reveals life 2000 years ago

Tongeren | An Ancient Belgian City Reveals Life 2,000 Years Ago

Hello folks,


Tongeren might not be widely known, especially to foreigners and expats, but its history will surely surprise visitors. Once called Atuatuca Tongrorum, this city is the oldest in Belgium and served as the capital of the Roman province Civitas Tungrorum since its founding in 10 BC.

Although I've always been fascinated by ancient history, my first visit to Tongeren was a revelation. I discovered so many beautiful places that have withstood the test of time that it felt like love at first sight. We decided to go by train, which took us about an hour and a half from Leuven. We changed trains at Hasselt station, and the round trip cost €13 per person. Upon arrival, an information board in front of the station provides directions to tourist sites and descriptions of picturesque walking routes through the old town. Bronze cobblestones embedded in the sidewalks guide you to the city centre, a brilliant touch.

The medieval part of the town, including the 13th-century Basilica of Our Lady in the style of Brabantine Gothic and the unique Begijnhof church, are must-sees. However, the ruins of the Roman city walls, built in the 2nd century, impressed me the most. It's remarkable how they have remained, perfectly integrated into the landscape after such a long time. Historians suggest these walls were not built for military purposes but as a status symbol for the proud inhabitants. Almost 2,000 years later, the walls continue to fulfil their purpose: the locals are still very proud of them!

Tongeren excels in promoting archaeological research. Thanks to the community's devotion, the Gallo-Roman Museum was established. Dedicated to prehistoric times and the Roman age, its permanent collection boasts 2,300 items. The museum offers an interactive and educational experience, inviting visitors to explore the four major revolutions: "The Arrival of Human Beings," "The First Farmers," "A First Elite Emerges," and "The Romans Found Tongeren." An iron arrow on display might seem like just an object, but in Tongeren, this arrow, along with many other artefacts, speaks to us about social classes, politics, privilege, and oppression. It's no surprise this museum won the European Museum of the Year Award in 2012: we need spaces that encourage critical thinking.

I've visited many beautiful places in Tongeren and yet have so much more to explore. I look forward to visiting the Tumuli, Roman burial mounds, and perhaps even joining an excavation. How wonderful would that be?

Check the Gallo-Roman Museum's website for practical information.

Roman Museum of Tongeren




roman walls tongeren



13.8.18

A Magical Mountain in Thuringia | Kickelhahn

Hello folks!

Despite many visits to Thuringia, the "Green Heart of Germany," this was the first time I visited the Kickelhahn, located within the municipal area of Ilmenau. This mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Thuringian Forest, draws tourists not just with its beautiful and enchanting forest but also for its significance in German literature.

"I always loved being here, I believe it comes from the harmony of everything around here…" (Goethe to Schiller, Ilmenau, August 29th, 1795)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the master of German literature, made his way to Ilmenau no less than 28 times. The idyllic forest and landscapes inspired many of his poems, such as the Wanderer's Nightsong, which he penned on the wall of a hunters' cabin near the mountain's summit. Over two centuries later, the harmony Goethe spoke of on the Kickelhahn feels as palpable as ever.

On a brilliantly sunny day in July, Christian and I, on a whim and sans hiking gear, set out to ascend the mountain. Fueled by sheer enthusiasm, we embarked on the 861-meter climb to its summit, where a 24-meter tall lookout tower offers expansive views. We chose the scenic route, losing track of time amidst the enchanting scents and hues of the forest, which induced a profound, almost synesthetic experience. Along the way, I delighted in picking wild raspberries, marvelling at paths strewn with raspberries and strawberries—a magical encounter.

Reaching the top of the Kickelhahn, we explored the ruins of an old hunting lodge and the little wooden cabin where Goethe composed the Wanderer's Nightsong. We also ascended the observation tower, erected in 1869 by Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. Though I was quite tired and already enchanted by the glorious valley views from a lookout spot, I'm glad my husband persuaded me to climb the tower—the view was breathtakingly beautiful.

Tracing Goethe's steps on the Kickelhahn has etched one of the most unforgettable experiences in my memory. I eagerly anticipate returning in December, hoping to witness the mountain's snowy embrace.

For more information visit  ilmenau.de

forest of ilmenau thuringia





forest of ilmenau thuringia


forest of ilmenau thuringia

forest of ilmenau thuringia

forest of ilmenau thuringia

27.7.18

The best of Namur | Medieval Festival

Hello folks,

One of Belgium's most spectacular festivals, Les Médiévales de la Citadelle, is held once a year in the first week of July in the francophone city of Namur. I had the pleasure of attending the event this month, which brought hundreds of people together to share their love of all things Medieval. It was a fantastic experience to travel back to an age of chivalrous knights, noble dames, and hard-working peasants.

Where better to enjoy a Medieval festival than on the grounds of the historical Citadelle of Namur? The first castle was built in 937, and the complex covers over 80 hectares; it's one of the biggest fortresses in Europe. Furthermore, Namur can definitively claim some of Belgium's most glorious scenery: the view of the confluence of the Meuse and Sambre rivers is breathtakingly beautiful, as you can see in the video below.

Les Médiévales showcases a colourful array of pageants and demonstrations of craftsmanship spanning the centuries, from pottery and glass-making to spinning. The dedication of the actors to historical accuracy adds authenticity to the experience. I particularly enjoyed chatting with the artisans, learning about the culinary creations for children's lunches, exploring the variety of spices added to wines, and discussing XIV-century art with a gentleman at the tapestry maker's tent.

The highlight of the festival was undoubtedly the tournament, staged at specific times throughout the weekend. The exhilarating display of chivalrous combat for honour and courage felt so real that I couldn't help but worry for the safety of the participants. Equally captivating were the bands playing medieval-inspired music on various stages, especially the lady wandering around the lanes with her concertina. If you're a fan of medieval music, this festival is definitely for you.

One of the things my husband and I appreciated was the family-friendly atmosphere of the festival. So, if you have little ones, don't hesitate to bring them along; there are plenty of activities tailored just for them, from theatre performances to medieval board games. It was heartwarming to see how brave the kids were, not even afraid to hug one of the huge ogres!

I want to extend a big thank you to all the organizers, actors, and the people of Namur for being so friendly, positive, and welcoming to tourists from all over the world. I'm already looking forward to returning to the festival in 2019, and this time, I'll be sure to bring along a medieval costume!


This article was proudly written in collaboration with the tourist department of Namur.



medieval festival namur


Citadelle de Namur Belgium





medieval festival of namur

medieval festival of namur

medieval festival of namur

5.7.18

A Serene Swim Spot Near Leuven: Exploring Belgium's Lakeside Charm

Hello folks,

Belgium has been enjoying weather above 25 degrees for the last few weeks. While the heat and mosquitos biting my husband make it hard to sleep, we're hoping this weather stays all summer.

For those near Leuven seeking relief from the muggy heat, the lake of Rotselaar in the recreational area known as Domein Ter Heide might be the perfect spot. The park is divided into three areas: one popular for family-oriented swims, another for sports like kayaking and windsurfing, and a third for fishing. With such a variety of activities, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Christian and I had a wonderful day at the lake last weekend. We packed our bags with fruit salad, some pastries, and a bottle of water and headed to Rotselaar by bike, taking about 40 minutes to reach our destination. Along the way, we discovered lovely lanes and historical places, like The Donjon Ter Heyden. Upon arrival, we parked in a designated area for bikes, where a boy stamped our hands. We had to show this stamp at the entrance, and because we arrived by bike, the lady at the entrance gave us a 50% discount, so we only paid 2.50 euros each to enter the park. How cool is that?

One of the things I love most about this place is the excellent infrastructure: it has showers, lockers, and toilets. While I enjoy wild swimming, having access to modern conveniences like toilets is very welcome. If you have kids, you'll be pleased to know there are lifeguards, and the water is clean and controlled monthly by the Flemish government. Additionally, there's a bar next to the park where you can buy refreshments, which is great if your picnic basket runs empty.

As someone born and raised in a big town, I cherish these country escapes and feel more at peace surrounded by nature. Moreover, riding my bike and not depending on a car gives me more freedom and peace of mind. Let's pollute less and enjoy the simple moments of life ;)

Lake's address: Vakenstraat 18, 3110 Rotselaar
Opening hours:
- July and August: 10 am - 8 pm (the entrance gate closes at 7:30 pm)
- May, June, 1st - 15th of September: open on Wednesday and Friday from 2 pm to 7 pm, and on weekends and public holidays from 10 am to 7 pm.




Rotselaar lake Leuven

13.6.18

A Secret Lavender Field Hidden in Belgium

Hello folks, 

There's something truly special about taking a moment to unwind and soak in the beauty of spring. While a getaway to the French Provence might not be on the cards for us every weekend, there's a delightful slice of tranquillity right in Limburg. Imagine a quaint lavender field, a hidden jewel, blossoming from early June to September, just waiting for you and your loved ones to explore.

Limburg, with its captivating nature, lakes, and farms, is home to the charming lavender field of Stokrooie-Hasselt, known as Limburg Lavendel. It's a modest yet enchanting spot. Wander through a rose maze or enjoy a refreshing Lavender Gin or Lavender jenever at the on-site café. It’s a simple, peaceful place that offers a gentle escape, not yet overrun by crowds.

Stumbling upon this serene spot was a highlight for Christian and me. Not far from Leuven, Limburg Lavender felt like a true escape to the countryside. In our fast-paced lives, it's vital to find moments of calm amidst nature. I'm thrilled to share this hidden gem with you, hoping it offers you as much joy as it did for us.

Here are the essentials:

Location: Olmenbosstraat 25, 3511 Stokrooie-Hasselt
Entry: Free
Open: June 1st to September 30th. Weekdays and holidays from 10 am to 8 pm, Saturdays from 1 pm to 8 pm. Closed Fridays.

Discover more by visiting their website and catch glimpses of my journey on Instagram and YouTube. Enjoy your lavender-infused adventure!

Limburg Lavendel




Limburg Lavendel


8.6.18

A Village of Medieval Strong Women: The Groot Begijnhof

Hello, folks!

The Groot Begijnho is more than just a university residential area, a peaceful spot for a sunny afternoon picnic or a UNESCO World Heritage site. Red brick walls and cobbled roads of the magical village narrate a history of love and resistance—a love birthed in the hearts of numerous medieval women, still pulsating like the waters of the river Dijle.

In the 12th century, various religious movements sprang up, some founded exclusively by women. These pioneering women, known as beguines, established their own communities to live together, committed to a simple life of charity and chastity. They notably supported women seeking escape from forced or abusive marriages (SCHAUS, 2006). Importantly, beguines took no religious vows, maintaining the freedom to leave the community or marry. Initially, life for beguines was fraught with challenges, as they battled accusations of heresy. Even after Pope Honorius III informally endorsed their lifestyle, they faced stigmatization for decades. The hostility culminated in the execution of the French beguine Marguerite Porete, author of "The Mirror of Simple Souls," burned at the stake in Paris.

Though numerous European beguinages faded into history by the end of the 15th century, a select few in Belgium and the Netherlands flourished, standing as testaments to resilience and communal spirit, bolstered by support from urban elites and noble families. In Leuven, for instance, the Arenberg nobility sent their daughters to the Groot Begijnhof for living and learning. From 1630 to 1670, the original wooden structures were replaced with sturdier brick houses, enhancing safety and living conditions for the beguines. Unfortunately, the French occupation ended this prosperous era, as Begijnhof properties were reallocated to a Public Welfare Commission, stripping beguines of their traditional habits. Though they remained in the community, parts of the Begijnhof served as a refuge for orphans, widows, and the financially distressed. In 1962, the area was sold to the University of Leuven, heralding a new chapter for the site.

Globally, historical sites often succumb to demolition or exploitation by unscrupulous developers. Yet, under the guidance of Prof. Paul Van Aerschot and Prof. Lemaire (KU LEUVEN), the Groot Begijnhof's houses were meticulously restored. Today, it houses senior students and international researchers, with its exquisite gardens welcoming the public.

Strolling through the Begijnhof's narrow lanes, one encounters a symphony of languages, a testament to its diverse, harmonious community. In our era of intolerance, the coexistence of global scientists here embodies an act of love and resistance. The last beguine may have passed in 1988, but their essence lingers, a reminder that ideas, unlike bodies, are indomitable.

SCHAUS (2006) Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia.
KU Leuven - The Leuven Grand Beguinage



The Groot Begijnhof


Watch the video and discover more details about this wonderful place


27.5.18

See my Leuven | Leuven Museum

Hello folks!

Welcome back to my article series, crafted in partnership with the Tourism Department of Leuven. I'm thrilled to continue our journey through Leuven’s vibrant arts and culture scene, this time spotlighting the M – Museum Leuven, affectionately known as M. Since its opening in 2009, M has not just been a museum; it’s been a dynamic centre of community life. Boasting an impressive collection of over 46,000 works, M bridges the gap between the late Gothic period and the expressive 19th century. Here, art enthusiasts can marvel at the works of Jan Rombouts the Elder, Josse van der Baren, and Flemish masters like Constantin Meunier and Jef Lambeaux.

Leuven Museum


What sets M apart is its role as a cultural hub in Leuven. The museum extends beyond its walls into its gardens, which become a lively venue for free events, including cinema under the stars, concerts, and activities for kids, in the summer. It’s a place where art, community, and diversity converge, making M a beacon of cultural engagement in the city.

For the latest on what’s happening at M or to plan your visit, check out the M-Museum website. It’s your gateway to a rich cultural experience that’s deeply intertwined with the community spirit of Leuven.



                

Check the M-Museum website for more practical information

You can see more photos of my trips on Instagram and videos on Youtube

17.3.18

Tourism in Leuven - The gothic town hall

Hello folks,

As you may know, I reside in Leuven, a picturesque town in Belgium. Embarking on a deeper journey as a creative content creator, I've sparked an idea: why not showcase the treasures of my city? With Visit Leuven's encouragement, I'm thrilled to launch a series of posts and videos highlighting Leuven's key attractions, starting with the iconic Old Town Hall.

The Gothic Town Hall holds a special place for Christian and me, it's where we got married on a lovely sunny day in September. Since that day, I've yearned to delve into and share the building's depths. The tourism department organizes daily guided tours at 3 pm, primarily in Dutch, French, and English, with options for German or Spanish for larger groups. It's wise to contact them beforehand to confirm the tour language, which varies. Additionally, the ILUVLeuven Ticket, available online for €16, offers access to the Town Hall, University Library & Tower, M-Museum Leuven, and the M-Treasury of Saint Peter.

We visited the Old Town last Sunday, fortunate to have warmer weather with not much rain in the forecast. The tour began at Naamsestraat 3, moving then to the building's magnificent facade. Construction of the City Hall started in 1439 and underwent several modifications. The impressive 236 statues of public figures we see today were added around 1850, and the staircase dates back to 1709. Interestingly, the statues we see are not the original ones preserved in the attic. Imagining the building before these modifications is fascinating. A highlight was observing the intricately carved bases of the statue niches, depicting scenes from the Bible about sin and punishment, like the story of Adam and Eve. These figures, from the original project, served as a warning to maintain order and good behaviour among Leuven's medieval population. I love learning about history and society through architecture. 



After our exterior tour, we entered the foyer, now used as a reception area for events. Here, we saw many flags, notably those of the seven noble families of Leuven, descended from the seven daughters of a 9th-century knight named Batijn. We then visited the three salons, the oldest parts of the building, featuring interior designs from the 14th century and hosting important paintings and panels, like the Resurrection of Christ by Otto Van Veen, Rubens' teacher. It was disheartening to see that Van Veen's panel had suffered from poor restorations over the centuries. Another highlight was the Gothic hall on the second floor, where part of the original beam blocks, carved to depict the life of Maria and Christ, are still in use by our town hall councillors. Adjacent to this hall is another small one, retaining its original star-shaped wooden vault. The final room we visited was the mayor's office, once a meeting room for the Saint Peter's Lords of the Seven Noble Families. My description hardly does justice to all the details and stories; it's a place you must visit and experience for yourself. If you love history as much as I do, you'll surely enjoy the tour.

After our visit, we had coffee on the terrace of the Oude Markt, the self-proclaimed longest open-air bar in Belgium. It's certainly the longest and most beautiful one I've seen. 


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