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

The List of Sites in Old Leuven

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.

The faulty attributions made by the cartographer are placed in brackets [ ].

  1. S. Pieters kercke – Sint-Pieterskerk
  2. S. Michiels kercke – outside Sancta Maria Leuven
  3. S. Gheertruydts kerck, Clooster, abdie – Sint-Geertruikerk
  4. S. Iacobus kercke – Sint-Jacobskerk
  5. S. Quintens kerck – Sint-Kwintenskerk
  6. [Vlierbeke abdye] – Oratoriënhof
  7. Predicheeren Coll. Oratorium – Predikherenkerk
  8. Minnebroeders Descalces – KU Leuven Research and Development
  9. [Vrauwenbroeders Boogarden > #24]Klooster der miniemen – Miniemeninstituut
  10. S. Augustinus cloost. en collegie – Augustijnenklooster
  11. Iesuiten cloost. en collegie – Sint-Michielskerk
  12. t’ Groot bagynhoff – Het Groot Begijnhof
  13. Charthreusen – Kartuizerklooster
  14. Anonciaten – Klooster van de Annunciaten
  15. Enghelsche Iesuyten
  16. t’ Kleyn Baghynhoff – Het Klein Begijnhof
  17. [Graususter huys > Extras] Priorij van de Heilige Ursula – Bruulpark
  18. Capucynen – Kruidtuin
  19. Hospitael – Sint-Pietersziekenhuis/Hertogensite
  20. [S. Cornelis gasthuys] Sint-Laurentiusgasthuis – Exotic World
  21. [Minimen clooster > #9]
  22. [Enghelshe Iesuytersen] Sint-Monicaklooster – Sint-Rafaëlziekenhuis/Hertogensite
  23. Onse Vrauwe kercke gulden – Kapel van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ginder-buiten
  24. [Clarissen Regulier klooster > #48] – Vrouwenbroedersklooster/ Klooster van de Geschoeide Karmelieten
  25. [Swart Susterhuys > Extras] – Abdij Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ten Wijngaert
  26. Borcht Castri – Keizersberg
  27. Collegie van Ghendt
  28. Collegium Castry – Pedagogie De Burcht
  29. Collegie van Mechelen
  30. [Collegie verdoncq] Villerscollege
  31. Collegie van Sauoyen – Museum M
  32. Collegie van S hertoghenbos – Herbert Hooverplein
  33. Collegium Valconi – College De Valk
  34. Collegium Leodiense – Jozef Vounckplein
  35. Collegium Porci – Hogeschoolplein
  36. Collegium Pont. Max. – Pauscollege
  37. Collegium pauperum – Atrechtcollege
  38. [Collegium Pont. Minomorum] – Heilige-Geestcollege
  39. Collegium Standoncq – Standonckcollege
  40. Collegium S. Mariae – Hollands College
  41. Collegium Regii Mag. – Koningscollege
  42. Collegium van Dale – Van Dalecollege
  43. Collegium Angliae Hiberniae – Irish College Leuven
  44. S. Iooris Cappelle – Sint-Joriskapel
  45. S. Anthonius Capelle – Sint-Antoniuskapel
  46. S. Barbara Capelle – Joris Helleputteplein
  47. d’Aerm Schole knechtiens huys – Armenschool voor jongens
  48. [Fiere Margriettien] Clarissenklooster – Ladeuzeplein
  49. Cellebroeders – Residentie Camilo Torres
  50. [Meyshuys arm Schole] Priorij van Sint-Maartensdal – Sint-Maartensdal
  51. Stadhuys – Stadhuis
  52. Guldenhuys taefelronde – Tafelrond
  53. Vleeschuys – Mathieu de Layensplein
  54. Halle – KU Leuven University Hall
  55. Coorenhuys – Korenhuis
  56. Waeghe – Waag
  57. Mons Pietatis – Berg van Barmhartigheid 
  58. Meyers huys – Maria-Theresia- en Veteranencollege
  59. Groote Marckt – Grote Markt
  60. Oude Marckt – Oude Markt
  61. Hout en Hoy Marcht – Rector de Somerplein
  62. Vischmarckt
  63. Pense marckt – Pensmarkt
  64. Veemarckt – Veemarkt
  65. Wynberghe – Wijnberg
  66. Verlooren Cost – Verloren Kost
  67. Mechelsche poort
  68. Poort na Aerschoot
  69. Poort na Diest
  70. Poort na Thienen
  71. Poort na Perck
  72. Poort na Heueren
  73. Poort naer ter Bourg
  74. Wygaert Poort


  1. College van Premonstreit
  2. Donkerstraat
  3. Grauwzustersklooster – Klaverpark
  4. Hogeheuvelcollege
  5. Huis van t’ Sestich
  6. Keizershof
  7. Noormannenstraat
  8. Redingenstraat
  9. Spui, De Grote
  10. Spui, De Kleine
  11. Stella Artois
  12. Zwartzustersklooster

Oud Leuven: #28 Pedagogie De Burcht The "Pedagogie De Burcht" existed from 1427 to 1797. Named after the Castle of Leuven (De Burcht/Borcht), the college was one of the four Arts colleges that belonged to the University of Leuven. Harold Tor - Sint-Pieterskerk Leuven Oud Leuven: #1 Sint-Pieterskerk The Sint-Pieterskerk (St Peter's Church) is a 17th-century church located right in the heart of Leuven, on the Grote Markt. 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: #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: #25 Abdij Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ten Wijngaert The cartographer misnamed the spot #25 as the "Swart Susterhuys" (Zwartzustersklooster) - Convent of the Augustinian "Black" Sisters. It was in fact the site of the Abbey of the Our Lady of the Vineyard (Abdij Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ten Wijngaert) that belonged to the Cistercian Sisters. Also, the spot was misplaced between modern-day Ridderstraat and de... Oud Leuven: #11 Sint-Michielskerk The "Iesuiten cloost. en collegie" (Jesuit Monastery) mentioned in the map, is no more. The exact location of this monastery is the current-day Sint-Michielskerk (St Michael's Church) located in the Naamsestraat. This former Jesuit church is now one of the Seven Wonders of Leuven still existing, and one of the most monumental Baroque churches... Oud Leuven: #56 Waag Leuven, like many trading centres across the Benelux, used to have a public weighing house, or a 'weighhouse' called 'waag'. This allows the city administration to control the weighing of goods, to ensure a fair levying of taxes on goods. Leuven's Waag was located on the Zeelstraat, at the exit to the Oude Markt. Oud Leuven: #27 College van Gent In the corner between the Brouwersstraat and the Halvestraat, used to the College van Gent (College of Ghent). In its initial form, the College van Gent only survived from 1559 to 1592. 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: #54 KU Leuven University Hall The former Lakenhal (Cloth Hall) is an imposing 14th-century building located on Number 22 Naamsestraat. Today, it is the University Hall of the KU Leuven. Oud Leuven: #61 Hooimarkt Leuven's former Hooimarkt (hay market) no longer exists. Located close to the choir of the Sint-Pieterskerk, this small market square once linked the Tiensestraat, the Diestsestraat and the Mechelsestraat. Today, it is replaced by the Rector De Somerplein a little further east. Oud Leuven: #29 College van Mechelen According to the map, the Collegium Mechliniense was located on the current-day Mechelsestraat. 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. Harold Tor - Oud Leuven: Atrechtcollege Oud Leuven: #37 Atrechtcollege Located on the highest point of the Naamsestraat, the Atrechtcollege is located beside the Premonstreitcollege and diagonally opposite the Van Dalecollege. Oud Leuven: #51 Stadhuis Leuven's historic City Hall - Stadhuis - is one of the most beautiful buildings in Brabant Late Gothic style in Belgium. Located on the Grote Markt (the Great Market), this architectural jewel was enclosed by the Naamsestraat, the Muntstraat and the Boekhandelstraat, with an inner courtyard called Vrijthof.