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Leuven

From Academic Kids

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Leuven.jpg
Leuven in 2004

Leuven (Louvain in French, Lwen in German) is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant, of which it is the capital. The municipality comprises the city of Leuven proper and the towns of Heverlee, Kessel-Lo, a part of Korbeek-Lo, Wilsele and Wijgmaal. On January 1st, 2004 Leuven had a total population of 89,777 (44,204 males and 45,573 females). The total area is 56.63 km which gives a population density of 1,585.27 inhabitants per km².

The first known mention of the name Leuven was in 891, as 'Loven'. In the same year, the Vikings were finally defeated near Leuven. Supposedly the red-white-red city flag of Leuven depicts the blood-stained shores of the river Dijle after this battle. Situated at this river, round the stronghold of the feudal "Counts of Louvain" as they are conventionally called, Leuven became a very important center of trade in the 11th century and would remain so until the 14th century. A hint of its former importance as a center of cloth manufacture, is nicely reflected in the name the city lent to a kind of linen cloth, known in late 14-15th-century texts as lewyn (variant spellings: leuwyn, levyne, lewan(e)). But in the 15th century a new golden era begins with the founding of Belgium's largest and oldest university, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULeuven). In the 18th century Leuven became even more important because of a flourishing brewery that would later become Interbrew- now known as InBev -, and the digging of a canal to Mechelen.

Leuven in 1915
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Leuven in 1915

In the 20th century, both world wars inflicted major damage to the city, destroying the university library twice. The world was outraged over this and the library was completely rebuilt after World War I with American charity funds and German war indemnities. After World War II, the burnt down building had to be restored again. It still stands tall as a symbol of the terrible wars and the Allied solidarity afterwards.

Nowadays Leuven is a real "student city" from October until June, sporting one of the liveliest bar scenes in Belgium. The university is considered one of the best in Europe. Leuven is also well known for its summer rock festival Marktrock. Internationally, it might be better known as the home of InBev (formerly Interbrew), the largest brewery company in the world. In fact, 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.

The mayor of Leuven is Louis Tobback, a socialist politician prominent on the national level who was once minister of internal affairs, among other things.

References

External links

de:Lwen (Belgien) eo:Loveno fr:Louvain it:Lovanio li:Leuve nl:Leuven pl:Leuven sv:Leuven

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