Leuven's university (established in 1425) is one of the oldest in the world. Famous lecturers: Erasmus and Justus Lipsius. The Catholic university was briefly closed during the French occupation by the revolutionaires.
Although Leuven lies in the Flanders (the Dutch speaking region of Belgium), most (if not all) lectures were given in French. Flemish students had to undertake several protest marches to claim their right to be taught in their mother tongue. In 1968, the university finally splitted into Dutch (still situated in Leuven) and French speaking institutions (situated in Walloon Louvain-la Neuve).

The old university library of Leuven, was completely destroyed by the Germans during World War I (1914). Numerous old books were lost. This was considered to be an act of barbary by many countries, and was one of the reasons public opinion shifted in favour of the United States joining the the great war.

After the war, Americans still remembered the drama and donated money to completely rebuild the library and acquire a new collection of old books. The library was designed by an American architect, Warren. Each contributing school has a memorial stone at the entry of the library. Some of the work was in vain since the collection was destroyed again during World War II...

The building really fits in, some people don't believe the building isn't really that old... By the way, in 2001, President Bush visited the library.

  • http://www.kuleuven.ac.be/kuleuven/