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.


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




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.




  • Aulnecollege
  • Breugelcollege
  • De Lelie, Pedagogie
  • Drietongencollege
  • Drieuxcollege
  • Hogeheuvelcollege
  • Luxemburgcollege
  • Premonstreitcollege
  • Sint-Ivocollege
  • Vigliuscollege


  • Dieric Bouts
    Eygen Heerd
  • Hotel d'Udekem d'Acoz
  • Hotel van 't Sestich
  • Huis Morillon
  • Johannes de Lyra
  • Justus Lipsius – Moribus Antiquis
  • Matthijs de Layens – De Cuythoek
  • Joannes Ludovicus Vivès - Tweebronnen
    Vital Decosterstraat/Diestsestraat


  • Den Cleynen Hollenwech
  • Den Goeden Hollenwech
  • Den Kwaden Hollenwech

Eerste Omwalling
Inner City Walls

Tweede Omwalling
Outer City Walls