Oud Leuven: #59 Grote Markt

Oud Leuven: #59 Grote Markt

  • Name in 1649:

    Groote Marckt

  • Other names:

    den (Grooten) Kerckhof, Plaetse, Cleyne merckt

  • Current name:

    Grote Markt

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ABOUT

On the east side of the Sint-Pieterskerk, the main square of Leuven ‘Grote Markt’ is located in the centre of Leuven, connecting the main street arteries of Brusselsestraat, Mechelsestraat, Naamsestraat and Tiensestraat.

Origin

The original Grote Markt of Leuven was in fact the much larger square that is now called the ‘Oude Markt‘ (Old Market). The area that is today the Grote Market where the Sint-Pieterskerk, the Stadhuis (City Hall) and the Tafelrond are situated was largely the church cemetery of the church.

There was a rather inconvenient road that cut through the cemetery, then known simply as the ‘steenweg‘, that connected the Tiensestraat with the Naamsestraat and the Brusselsestraat. In short, the central connection point of these main trade routes was the cemetery itself.

This all changed when the city administration bought a part of the cemetery in 1427, in order to build a better infrastructure – a square – to connect the main roads. During this time, from 1410 to 1505, the Sint-Pieterskerk was being rebuilt from a Romanesque church to the Late Gothic church you see today.

This ‘modernisation’ of Leuven’s centre quickly followed: the new Stadhuis was built (1448-1469), followed by the Tafelrond (1480- 1487). The reason for this was clear: Leuven lost out to Brussels as the seat of the Duchy of Brabant in the second half of the 14th century. It desperately needed to rebuild itself as an important religious and political centre in order to win back the powers that decided.

What's so special about this place?

The long wait for the name

The current shape and size of the Grote Markt was already established by the end of the 15th century. Yet Leuven citizens never took to calling it the new ‘Grote Markt’.

Even after the cemetery has disappeared, people still called it the “Sinte Peters kerkckhof” (the St Peters’ churchyard) or “den (Grooten) Kerckhof” (the [big] churchyard). And with the gothic buildings completed and accepted by the locals, they would only accept to call it “Plaetse” (Place or Square). Then from the 16th century onwards, locals called it the “Cleyne merckt” (the Small Market), in contrast to the “Grote Markt” which is the current ‘Oude Markt’.

This is because despite the political and religious centre shifting to the new square, the “main square” for the people was still where economic activities were taking place, in the old market.

It was only during the French Occupation in 1794-1815, that the name “Grote Markt” took over.

 

The Great Fire of Leuven

In the night of 25 August, much of Leuven was engulfed in fire through bombardments by German troops. Apart from the Stadhuis and the police station beside it, the whole of the Grote Markt, including the Sint-Pieterskerk and the Tafelrond, was badly destroyed.

 

Walking on the dead

Despite the complete overhaul, the total destruction in the two world wars, there are still skeletons under the Grote Markt. As recent as in the 1990s, skeletons have been found in the depths of 3 metres under the square. This shows how densely used the cemetery was, by the time Leuven grew rapidly in population in the 11th to 15th centuries.

Current situation

Today, Leuven’s Grote Markt has been restored to its former 15th century look. Many of the houses that surround the square were largely reconstructed to their medieval appearance, even though they had not looked like this by the end of the 19th century.

It is one of the most beautiful spots of Leuven and certainly a tourist attraction on its own.

 

 

Sources:

https://inventaris.onroerenderfgoed.be/themas/1036
https://inventaris.onroerenderfgoed.be/aanduidingsobjecten/14917
Louvain monumental ou Description historique et artistique de tous les édifices civils et religieux de la dite ville, by Edward van Even, 1860 (image)

HOW IT LOOKS LIKE TODAY

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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: #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: #12 Het Groot Begijnhof The "Groot Begijnhof" is a "town-within-the-town" in the south of Leuven, on two arms of the River Dijle. Founded in the 13th century, this enclosed living quarters served religious women who lived in piety and chastity. The Groot Begijnhof is one of the best preserved, the largest and the most beautiful in the Low... 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. Harold Tor - Oud-Leuven-7-Predikherenkerk Oud Leuven: #7 Predikherenkerk The Predikherenkerk, short for “Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ten-Predikherenkerk”, is located not far from the Brusselsestraat. Hidden at the end of a beautiful medieval alleyway now called the Predikherenstraat, you will find this oldest Gothic church in Leuven and one of the earliest Gothic churches in Belgium. 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. Harold Tor - Oud Leuven: Minderbroedersklooster, KU Leuven Research & Development Oud Leuven: #8 Minderbroedersklooster From the 13th century to 18th century, the corner between present-day Waaistraat and Minderbroederstraat stood the Minderbroederklooster (Monastery of the Friars Minor), for which the street is named. 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: #43 Irish College Leuven 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. 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: #45 Sint-Antoniuskapel The Sint-Antoniuskapel is located on the current-day Pater Damiaanplein, at the foot of the Ramberg hill at the meeting point of the two streets - Ramberg and Sint-Antoniusberg. The chapel is also the mausoleum and pilgrimage site of the world-famous Belgian priest, Pater Damiaan. 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: #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: #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: #59 Grote Markt On the east side of the Sint-Pieterskerk, the main square of Leuven 'Grote Markt' is located in the centre of Leuven, connecting the main street arteries of Brusselsestraat, Mechelsestraat, Naamsestraat and Tiensestraat.
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