by Marit Pepplinkhuizen & Nahdah Sholihah ‘Nara’
Guest Writer/Arts & Culture Editor
Almost every Leuven student has been to the Groot Begijnhof, the central library, city hall and classic spots to grab a drink like Stuk and Blauwe Kater. But did you know that Leuven has a considerable number of hidden gems? Not only are there “secret” bars, but also parks hidden from the public eye and hiking trails that even Belgians don’t know about. So buckle up get ready to explore the wondrous hidden gems that Leuven has to offer.
This park is named after the river Dijle, an 86-kilometer river that passes through the provinces of Waals-Brabant, Vlaams-Brabant, and Antwerpen. Dijlepark, just behind Stuk, is filled with people jamming on their guitars in the summer. Fortunately there aren’t many houses nearby, so there isn’t much risk of causing a disturbance.
2. The Irish college
Leuven has many colleges, such as the American College and Hollands College. Both are understandable since the Netherlands is just next door and Americans are everywhere, but surprisingly, there’s also an Irish College! As it turns out the Irish have deep ties with Leuven that date back to the 16th century. Thus, the Irish College is not only interesting for its large, beautiful garden but also for its history.
3. Paus college
Another worthwhile site is Paus College. Some people who have lived in Leuven for years do not know that behind big wooden doors in the center of the city, this magnificent building is hiding. There used to be an Alma in Pauscollege, but since it was closed down, even fewer people know about this place. There are some weird statues and underneath the stairs is a creepy basement. Just watch out for the spiders!
4. The playground at Hal 5
On the outskirts of Leuven beyond the station, the abandoned railway station halls create a post-apocalyptic atmosphere. Close to this field is Hal 5, a meeting center where people experiment with food and sustainability initiatives. In a few years, the city of Leuven will begin a restoration of the old railway halls, but until that time, this place belongs to the people of Leuven.