Dominating Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein, this imposingly grand Flemish Renaissance–style palace features a soaring Scandinavian-style brick tower topped with a three-storey octagonal stone cupola.

The library was convincingly rebuilt after WWI with the financial aid of 400 American universities, having been infamously put to the torch in August 1914 during the schrecklichkeit ('terror' or 'hard measures') of the German occupation. It was then rebuilt a second time after WWII. Tickets to access the library's impressive main reading room (occasionally closed) include a 10-point audio guide activated by somewhat hard-to-spot 'Podcatcher' points. Tickets often access additional changing exhibitions. The 300-step tower is worth climbing for the open-air balcony view, creaking clock room and 1928 seven-tonne Liberty Bell.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Leuven attractions

1. M Van Museum

0.13 MILES

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

2. OLV-Ter-Koorts

0.25 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…

3. Stadhuis

0.27 MILES

Far and away Leuven’s most iconic sight, the incredible 15th-century stadhuis is a late-Gothic architectural wedding cake flamboyantly overloaded with…

4. St-Pieterskerk


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…

5. St-Michelskerk


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

6. Sint-Antoniuskapel

0.43 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…

7. Grote Begijnhof

0.61 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

0.78 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,…