Belgium’s most famous university town, Leuven (in French Louvain) has a charming position beside the banks of the Dijle, east of Brussels. The Catholic university here was founded in 1425 and rose to prominence as one of Europe’s most highly regarded places of learning.

The great humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam and Justus Lipsius both taught here, the geographer Gerhard Mercator studied here, and one of the university’s chancellors became Pope Adrian VI in 1459.

Leuven has also been lucky enough to hang on to much of its early architecture, despite suffering heavy bombardment in both world wars. With its illustrious university college buildings and fine Gothic buildings in the city center, Leuven is one of the best places in the country to get to grips with Belgium’s architectural heritage.