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.