Project Oud Leuven: 1649 today

Follow me in the footsteps of a 17th-century cartographer.

Exploring Old Leuven

What I really love to do, is to explore a city using an old map. This is a project which I have embarked on, to explore my hometown – the city of Leuven, located in the Brabant region of modern-day Belgium.

What are the buildings that have remained? How do things look like today, compared to a few hundred years ago? Using Google Map and Google Earth, I superimposed the old map onto the modern day navigation map in order to find the exact location of the lost and existing sights.

Join me in my quest to explore Old Leuven!

The Map of 1649

The map I am using dates from 1649, and it comes from the Atlas van Loon, now in the possession of Het Scheepvaartmuseum in the Netherlands. The atlas is a collection of 17th century maps compiled by Joan Blaeu of the North and South Netherlands:

De Atlas van Loon bevat de Nederlandse versie van de ‘Grooten Atlas (Atlas Maior)’ van Joan Blaeu (negen delen uit 1663-1665), de twee stedenboeken van de noordelijke en de zuidelijke Nederlanden uit 1649, en de uit 1663 stammende Italiaanse stedenboeken over de Kerkelijke Staat, de stad Rome en het koninkrijk Napels en Sicilië.” (Source)

Click below if you wish to download the image file of the map in JPG or the overlay in KMZ file (for Google Earth or Open Street Map).

In eigen stilte zwijgend ingeklonken
Als steden in een donkere zee verdronken


Inscription marking the spot of Leuven's lost Castle

List of 74 Sites in the 1649 Atlas van Loon

As you can see from the original map, sites are numbered and there is a Legend on the right with the names of each numbered Key. For each of the sites, I produce a page numbered accordingly as on the 1649 Map, complete with the old and current names, the precise location on Google Map, as well as photos of its current state. On top of that, I have found some really interesting sites which are drawn on the map but are unmarked, yet offer a surprisingly interesting perspective today.

Legend:

  • [ ] : Faulty attributions made by the cartographer.
  • *: Site does not exist anymore and is not replaced by a significant building on the same spot.

I. – XXXVII.

XXXVIII. – LXXIV.

Extras

De Zeven Wonderen van Leuven, 1646
The Seven Wonders of Leuven, 1646

In the 17th century, several sights in Leuven were elevated to the Seven Wonders. The concept of Seven Wonders was inherited from the antiquity’s Seven Wonders of the World. After humanist scholar Erycius Puteanus (Eric van der Putte) came up with the Seven Wonders of Brussels, Leuven quickly followed suit in 1646, in line with the seven legendary noble families of the city. Out of the list, only three remain today.

Kerken
Churches

  • Kapel van Jezus in ‘t Steentje
  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe ter Koorts
  • Sint-Eligiuskapel

Kloosters
Abbeys

  • Grauwzusters
    Klaverpark
  • Karmelieten (Ongeschoeid) van Sint-Jozef – ‘Placet’
  • Karmelieten (Ongeschoeid) van Sint-Albertus – ‘Tacet’
  • Karmelietessen (Geschoeid)
  • Karmelietessen (Ongeschoeid) ‘Theresianen’
  • Zwartzusters

Colleges
Colleges

  • Breugelcollege
  • College van Premonstreit
  • Drietongencollege
  • Drieuxcollege
  • Hogeheuvelcollege
  • Luxemburgcollege
  • Pedagogie De Lelie
  • Sint-Ivocollege
  • Vigliuscollege

Huizen
Houses

  • Dirk Bouts – Eygen Heerd
  • Huis Morillon
  • Justus Lipsius – Moribus Antiquis
  • Matthijs de Layens – De Cuythoek

Eerste Omwalling
Inner City Walls

Tweede Omwalling
Outer City Walls

Harold Tor - Oud Leuven - Sint-Jakobskerk Oud Leuven: #4 Sint-Jacobskerk The Sint-Jacobskerk was formally located 300 metres outside the first city walls, from the closest city gate of Biestpoort (current-day SPAR supermarket and Sole d’Italia on the Brusselsestraat). It was one of the original five medieval parish churches of Leuven, located in the west of the city. Oud Leuven: #24 Klooster van de Geschoeide Karmelieten The cartographer misnamed the spot #24 as the Clarissen Regulier klooster (Clarissenklooster). It was in fact the Monastery of the Carmelites (Klooster van de Geschoeide Karmelieten). Oud Leuven: #47 Armenschool voor jongens According to Leuven historian, Edward van Even, there used to be a school located on a sidestreet of the Brusselsestraat for poor boys. The school was founded in 1651 by a priest named Antoon Le Pape, in a house on the Tabernakelstraat. Harold Tor - Oud Leuven - Sint-Geertruiskerk Oud Leuven: #3 Sint-Geertruikerk The origins of the Sint-Geertruisabdij (Saint Gertrude’s Abbey) in Leuven dates back to a 12-century chapel that was transformed by Duke Henry I in 1206 to a priory for Augustinian cannons. As the name on the 1649 map suggests, this was an abbey, and the church was and is both an abbey church and a... Harold Tor - Oud Leuven: Koningscollege Oud Leuven: #41 Koningscollege The King's College (Koningscollege) is located along the Naamsestraat at the corner of the Charles de Bériotstraat in Leuven. Today, the Koningscollege houses the Zoological Institute (Zoölogisch Instituut) of the KU Leuven. Read about its rise as a Royal College of the Spanish King. Oud Leuven: #2 Sint-Michielskerk Oud Leuven: #2 Sancta Maria Leuven The Sint-Michielskerk (Saint Michael’s Church) does not exist anymore. Yet this was one of the iconic sights and sites of Leuven, one of its Seven Wonders. Its former location is on the Tiensestraat by the external façade of the Sancta Maria Leuven school, before the entrance to the city park. Oud Leuven: #17 Priorij van de Heilige Ursula en de 11.000 Maagden Where the Bruulpark now stands in Leuven, there used to be a huge convent in the Middle Ages called the "Priorij van de Heilige Ursula en de 11.000 Maagden" (the Priory of Saint Ursula and 11,000 virgins). The whole area is today enclosed by Halvestraat, Pereboomstraat, Het Torentje and Brouwersstraat. Oud Leuven: #57 Berg van Barmhartigheid The Mons Pietatis (Mount of Piety) was located in the corner between the Vaartstraat and the Lombaardenstraat in Leuven. In medieval Europe, the Mons Pietatis was the only form of loan available to citizens. Oud Leuven: #52 Tafelrond Located on the Grote Markt of Leuven, perpendicular to its world-renowned Late Gothic City Hall "Het Stadhuis", is this neo-gothic jewel called "Tafelrond". You must have guessed right, it was named after King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Oud Leuven: #73 Tervuursepoort The Tervuursepoort (Tervuren Gate) used to be one of the 14th-century outer city defence gates of Leuven. It is now part of the city's ring road, that links the intra-muros Tervuursestraat to the extra-muros Tervuursesteenweg. Unbeknownst to many nowadays, Tervuursepoort was one of the Seven Wonders of Leuven and its most beautiful and strong city... Oud Leuven: #69 Diestsepoort The 'Diestsepoort' (Diest Gate) is one of the eight city gates inherited from Leuven's 14th-century outer city fortifications. It is located on the East of the city, at the end of the Diestsestraat. Oud Leuven: #42 Van Dalecollege Located on the highest point of the inner city of Leuven, the Van Dalecollege along the Naamsestraat is one of the best preserved old college from the former University of Leuven and the most charming yet quiet spot in the city. Oud Leuven: #34 College van Luik The College van Luik (Liège College) was a college of the old University of Leuven specialised in theology, for priest-students from the Bishopdom of Liège. Located on the Muntstraat directly opposite the s Meiersstraat, the College van Luik existed from 1605 to 1806. Oud Leuven: #20 Sint-Laurentiusgasthuis The cartographer made two mistakes on this location: one, the guesthouse was called "Sint-Laurentiusgasthuis", not "Sint-Corneliusgasthuis". Secondly, the location was not directly in the compounds of the Sint-Jacobskerk but one block down the Brusselsestraat where the roundabout is nowadays. Oud Leuven: #14 Klooster van de Annunciaten The site of the Klooster van de Annunciaten is completely gone. The current location is at Numbers 1 to 5 of the Monseigneur Van Waeyenberghlaan. The convent existed from 1530 to 1784.
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