Top choice in Leuven

Far and away Leuven’s most iconic sight, the incredible 15th-century stadhuis is a late-Gothic architectural wedding cake flamboyantly overloaded with terraced turrets, fancy stonework and colourful flags. Added in the mid-19th century, a phenomenal 236 statues smother the exterior, each representing a prominent local scholar, artist or noble from the city’s history. Somehow the stadhuis survived the numerous wars that devastated the rest of the town. A WWII bomb that scoured part of the facade miraculously failed to explode.

The interior (by tour only) has several rooms outlandishly lavished with paintings and gilt-work ceilings, but the highlight is the pseudo-medieval 'Gothic Hall' council chamber with its splendid carved fireplace. Tour tickets are sold by the tourist office and should ideally be bought a day or two in advance.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Leuven attractions

1. St-Pieterskerk

0.07 MILES

At Leuven's heart is this soaring Brabantine-Gothic church (1425) whose remarkable wooden pulpit is fashioned like twin palm trees that drip with cherubs…

2. M Van Museum

0.14 MILES

This state-of-the-art gallery houses a priceless collection of 15th- to 18th-century religious works, fascinating Leuven-relevant historical objects and…

3. St-Michelskerk

0.17 MILES

This church's enormous baroque frontage remains impressive despite considerable age-erosion to the limestone capitals. It's topped with trumpeteer angels…

4. Sint-Antoniuskapel

0.23 MILES

Though originally built before 1329, this chapel is now an archetypal work of 1960s church design, made memorable as the last resting place of Father…

5. Universiteitsbibliotheek

0.27 MILES

Dominating Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein, this imposingly grand Flemish Renaissance–style palace features a soaring Scandinavian-style brick tower topped with…

6. OLV-Ter-Koorts

0.29 MILES

With its unusual interplay of brick and stone work, the exterior of this baroque former church is worth a look as you stroll by. It's now part of a…

7. Grote Begijnhof

0.51 MILES

This idyllic, village-like corner of Leuven would make an ideal film set for a medieval drama. The lantern-lit cobbled streets are lined with step-gabled…

8. Stella Artois

0.81 MILES

Just off the main inner ring road around 800m northwest of Leuven train station, this world-famous, highly automated brewery offers mostly group tours,…