Oud Leuven: #63 Pensstraat

Oud Leuven: #63 Pensstraat

  • Name in 1649:

    Pense marckt

  • Other names:

    Rue aux Tripes

  • Current name:

    Pensstraat

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ABOUT

The ‘Pensmarkt’ (Tripes Market) is the only surviving remnant of the previous Meat District of Leuven. Also called ‘Pensstraat’ (Tripes Street), the street still hosts two butchers one of whom – Rondou – is a Leuven institution.

Origin

The Pensstraat used to be the place where the Pensmarkt took place. Known in the earliest written records in 1253 as ‘Panchestrata‘, the name slowly evolved to be ‘Peenstrate‘ in 1370.

 

Part of the “Seven Corners of Leuven’s Meat District”

The Pensstraat leads from the Brusselsestraat to the square known as the ‘Mathieu de Layensplein‘. Leuven’s inhabitants still call this square the ‘Zeven Hoeken‘ (Seven Corners). This is because it was the area is enclosed by seven street corners with the Leverstraatje, the Pensstraat, the Schrijnmakersstraat and the Jodenstraat.

The Pensstraat also led directly up to the Vleeshuis (Meat Market), which stood right in front of the Sint-Pieterskerk.

Up until the First World War, the Zeven Hoeken was Leuven’s Meat District (Slachthuiswijk).

It was unsanitary and smelled really bad, and many of the rubbish and rotten meat found themselves in the nearby Dijle river.

 

1914: The Great Fire of Leuven

In August 1914, Leuven was nearly completely destroyed by the invading Germans. The university library was burnt down. The Tafelrond was ruined. The Sint-Pieterskerk was reduced to its bare bone foundations. The Vleeshuis – together with the Pensstraat – was so completely burnt that there was absolutely nothing left.

It was then that the city took the decision to turn this into an open space called ‘Parvis Saint-Pierre‘. In 1940, the space was renamed ‘Mathieu de Layensplein‘ to honour the city’s renowned architect.

After the dreadful destruction of 1914, the city administration decided to make use of the opportunity to sanitise the whole Meat District, which was their plan for a long time, since the area was dirty, unhygenic and very poor – right in the centre of the city.

Already in 1781, the slaughterhouses in the Slachtstraat were centralised in a building further down the road in the corner between the modern-day Amerikalaan and Lei. This was initiated by the mayor Jan Laurent de Vroye, and was the first central public slaughterhouse in Belgium. In 1908, an even larger building was erected along the Kapucijnenvoer, and this moved the slaugherhouse to the outlying quarters of the city.

With the meat business moved outside the centre of Leuven, the tripes stalls in the Pensstraat also went away.

What's so special about this place?

Slagerij Rondou

As much as I would like to fantasize about Leuven’s famous butcher ‘Rondou‘ being a survivor of the meat business here since the 13th century, it is not.

Slagerij Rondou started its business in Oud-Heverlee in 1946 and moved to their current spot in the Pensstraat in 1965. The family worked really hard through those decades, against the rise of supermarkets, in order to keep the trade alive. Their struggles were the inspiration of the 2009 TV drama series ‘Van Vlees en Bloed‘ (Of Meat and Blood), and the butcher shop became an instant star throughout Belgium.

Today, it still serves high quality meat and has kept its familiar personal touch in spite of its fame. It is also the favourite butcher of Belgian TV chef Jeroen Meus.

Current situation

Today, the Pensstraat is a pleasant little street that connects the Brusselsestraat and the Mathieu de Layensplein. Fortunately, the smell and sight of tripes with encircling flies are no longer present. It is one of the few places left in Leuven where you can experience the charm of thriving local small businesses.

 

Sources:

https://inventaris.onroerenderfgoed.be/themas/8176
https://www.slagerijrondou.be/ons-verhaal
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Vlees_en_Bloed
Stadsarchief Leuven, Nieuwsbriefjaargang 11, Nr. 4 Dec 2015

HOW IT LOOKS LIKE TODAY

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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 Voer... Oud Leuven: #55 Korenhuis Leuven's 13th-century Korenhuis (Corn House) was located in the modern-day Zeelstraat. Oud Leuven: #6 Oratoriënhof Oud Leuven: #6 Oratoriënhof This has to be one of the most interesting mistakes or misunderstanding I have found in the course of my research. I will explain why:
On this location, the author of the 1649 Atlas van Loon’s map of Leuven marked it as “Vlierbeke abdye“, which is the “Abdij van Vlierbeek“. Yet the Vlierbeek Abbey is outside...
Oud Leuven: #26 Keizersberg Located at the northern tip of Leuven, within the second and outer city wall and east of the city gate Mechelsepoort, the Keizersberg is a medieval fortified hill that currently houses a Benedictine monastery, a public park and an emblematic giant statue of Queen Virgin Mary with baby Jesus that overlooks the city. Keizersberg is... Harold Tor - Oud Leuven: Hollands College Oud Leuven: #40 Hollands College Located on the square called Pater Damiaanplein, Hollands College is one of the best preserved colleges of the former University of Leuven. Much of the interior was never dismantled or destroyed during the French occupation, with many of its rooms dating back to the 18th century. Oud Leuven: #53 Vleeshuis Directly in front of Leuven's Sint-Pieterskerk is a square called 'Mathieu de Layensplein', after the city's Late Gothic architect. In fact, right up until 1914, this was Leuven's indoor meat market called 'Vleeshuis'. Oud Leuven: #70 Tiensepoort The Tiensepoort (Tienen Gate), once an imposing city gate of the city of Leuven, does not exist anymore. Today, it is a busy junction on the ring road of the city, where the intra-muros Tiensestraat leads to the extra-muros Tiensesteenweg. 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. 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: #30 Villerscollege Located at Number 24 on the Vaartstraat, the former Villerscollege was founded by and for the student friars of the powerful Cisterian Abbey of Villers, between Gembloux and Nivelles, today laid in ruins. 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: #58 Maria-Theresia- en Veteranencollege The former 'Meiershuis' (Mayor's House) was located on the site of the current Maria-Theresia- en Veteranencollege on the Sint-Michielsstraat. 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. Harold Tor - Oud Leuven: College De Valk Pedagogie De Valk Oud Leuven: #33 College De Valk The "Pedagogie De Valk" is the only surviving pedagogies of the old University of Leuven. It is located at Number 41, Tiensestraat. 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.
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