Thursday, March 16, 2017

BELGIUM 2016: Central Library of the Catholic University of Leuven

With this post, I do believe we've come to the end of our Leuven trip from last early December.  Though I didn't plan it this way, I may find it fortuitous to end it here because of what a place of learning represents for us all in this Journey we call Life.

Everything we read about Leuven said the University Library was a definite point of interest, totally worth the trip.  They were right.

This is the central library of the Catholic University of Leuven, established in 1636.
It was burned during both world wars but rebuilt afterwards in both cases.
The University of Leuven itself is the oldest catholic university still in existence in the world.
It has 55+K students.

I'm not sure what the significance is of the impaled beetle or the hot-air balloon sculpture.
But there was an exhibition on Utopia & More at the library while we were there.

In fact, look at these circular steps in the square in front of the library
(getting readied for Christmas with the big tree).  See the written words on the red bands?

Here's what the words said as I walked along to record them:
500 years ago Leuven University existed.
500 years ago the first cookbook in Dutch was published: a notable little cookery book.
500 years ago the Germans already had Christmas trees, but the Flemish did not.
500 years ago Pope Leo X's white elephant Hanno died.
500 years ago Flemish renaissance art was at its height.
500 years ago Utopia was printed in Leuven.

At that point, before going inside the library, we stopped to eat lunch on the corner nearby.
We were told us it was a favorite of students and alumnae.

You know by now how much we enjoy good Belgian beers,
to say nothing of the food, of course!

But the library beckoned!
Here's the outside entrance, with a model of the carillon tower.

With a tour of the library we used the audio guide to find the points of interest.

But it was the library itself that totally sold me.

I quickly left the first floor and climbed to the surrounding balcony
 to be less obstructive with my photography.

I kept thinking of my before-her-time mother who ate up university campuses.
She was a graduate of Smith College and received her Masters at Columbia University in the 30's.
THAT kind of woman before her time!  We kids called her a professional student.

She would have loved this library.  I saw it through her eyes.

As we left the library and walked back to Leuven's market square,
we realized once again why this city in Belgium, 16 miles east of Brussels, is so well-loved.
It's even the headquarter's of the Stella Artois pilsner lager.

How can you say NO to any of that!
But now, finally, we can say Good Bye.


  1. Hi Ginnie. A very beautiful architectural series with attractive lights, it is very beautiful and what there has in plates gives me hunger. You be going to tempt all your visitors with these greedy and colored dishes

    1. I didn't use to show the food images, Marie, but since so many people like them, I've decided to keep showing them. HA! Thank you for stopping by again.

  2. This was a beautiful day. Although I never entered the library, I climbed the tower.... The library is a wonderful place and I am amazed how many students there are... What a place, what a town. A goodbye is in order. We are ready for our next adventure. Thank you for making this memory with these incredible pictures. Thank you for putting in on that time. IHVJ

    1. I should have gotten the images from you (or did I???) of what you saw from the tower. It was a win-win that day, because my knee would not have been happy to make that climb. It WAS happy inside the library! :) Thank you.

  3. I love how you soak up all that culture!!

  4. I may skip the Stella, but that reading room is spectacular. Interesting to learn of your distinguished mother.

    1. We had Stella once, just to say we had it, since it was from Leuven. The rest of the time we were much more adventurous. :) When we see you in October, I'll catch you up more on my mom. The two of you would have loved each other, talking up a constant storm!

  5. I had to stop and STARE at the food and beer, i'm so hungry right now, and hubby burnt dinner... and I love loved the library pictures...

    every september i used to get a craving to go out and buy school supplies, i used to be addicted to university lol...

    a friend of mine once asked me if i didn't have anything better to do than sit around and get over educated :) and i thought 'hmmm, what's better than getting over educated??' lol

    1. You would have LOVED my mom. She was also a good listener...another way in which she learned! :)

  6. What a wonderful memory of your Mom, Ginnie. It was a beautiful library. Inspiring!

    1. I suppose I take after my mom in this regard, Marie...loving university campuses and libraries. She really was/is an inspiration!

  7. We didn't time to go inside the library, it looks fabulous!!

    Here is a link to the explanation of the Totem beetle statue. I was none the wiser after I read the explanation after I visited the square.

    1. Oh my, Cherry: "The beetle is the memory of nature, a kind of senior computer world, a radar of human existence. The total work of art refers to a collection, a collection of insects pinpricks pricked and reversed. Importantly, the relationship with the university: collective memory of man, a building with a collection of books and knowledge. Totem would like to pay tribute to the knowledge, beauty, in short, to the poetry of existence. "

      I see what you mean but at least there's an explanation. HA! Again, we owe a lot to you for this entire Leuven visit, so thank you again.

  8. The impaled beetle looks scary and the only thing that it reminds me of is a wall full of boxes with impaled beetles in some insect enthusiast's house! Oh well, and I shouldn't forget Kafka's Metamorphoses where the beetle is not impaled but it's huge... The explanation Cherry shared left me none the wiser either. :)

    The library looks interesting and I love the staircase. I'm quite surprised that you were allowed to take photographs when students were using the library. They look great in the photos though!

    1. The things we learn, Petra, when we're out-n-about! We don't always learn enough, of course.

      I don't know if I was allowed to take the photos or not but that's one reason why I went to the upper level, because of the camera sound.

  9. OH my gosh...the carvings in that library are mind blowing!!! What a place!

    1. It reminded me of when we were with you at Columbia University in NYC, Robin. My mom would have loved this place, just like I'm sure she did Columbia!