Oud Leuven: #65 De Wijnpers Provinciale Secundaire School

Oud Leuven: #65 De Wijnpers

  • Name in 1649:

    Wynberghe

  • Other names:

    Wijnberg, Wingerd

  • Current name:

    De Wijnpers Provinciale Secundaire School

  • SHARE:

ABOUT

On the 1649 map of Leuven in the Atlas van Loon, two areas were marked as Number 65 – Wijnberg (Wineberg). The correct one is the secondary school and agricultural school known as ‘De Wijnpers’ (the wine press), bordered by the Mechelsevest, the Donkerstraat and the Wijnpersstraat. The hill is the only remnant of Leuven’s historical status as a wine producer.

Origin

Leuven, the Wine-Producing Capital of Brabant

Before Leuven earned its current fame as the Beer Capital of Belgium, it was in fact the wine capital of the Duchy of Brabant.

In her article ‘Den wijnghaert soo bevrosen: De invloed van de kleine ijstijd op de Leuvense wijnbouw tussen 1400 en 1600.‘, Lena Walschap recounted the history of Leuven’s past as a wine producer. Apart from the larger vineyards in and around the city, which were not less than nine on a map from 1604, people cultivated wine grapes in their own gardens.

The height of Leuven’s wine production was in the 16th century.

But the production dropped drastically after the 17th century. Coupled with the rising demand for beer, Western Europe was experiencing the Little Ice Age. The initial phase of the climate change lasted from 1290 to around 1400. Then the coldest period set in from 1645 to 1715.

With wet summers, freezing winters and frosty spring, many wine producers had to give up their trade.

Additionally, the colonisation of the Americas brought in a greater quantity of silver into Western Europe. This led to inflation, leaving people to abandon wine for the cheaper alternative of beer. Above all, whilst the wine production in Leuven never completely stopped and even lasted into the 18th century, the bad quality of the wine due to the chilly summers coupled with its exorbitant price eventually destroyed the wine production in Leuven.

The Abdij Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ten Wijngaert (Abbey of the Our Lady of the Vineyard) a Cistercian convent located where the Voer river and the Dijle river meets, bore testament to Leuven’s history as the wine capital of Brabant.

The Ducal Vineyard

In 1121, the Duke of Brabant Godfried I established a vineyard in the hills south of his castle on Keizersberg. This was the largest vineyard of Leuven, and became known as the ‘Wijnberg‘ (wineberg) or the ‘Wingerd‘ – the local version of ‘wijngaerd‘ (vineyard).

Despite the decimation of Leuven’s wine production, it is remarkable that the whole area of the Wijnberg retains its agricultural nature up until this day.

What's so special about this place?

The 16th-century wine press – De Wijnpers

Where the Wijnperstraat meets the Donkerstraat, stands a beautiful 16th-century building called ‘De Wijnpers‘ (the wine press).

In 1551, the Abbot of the Sint-Geertruisabdij (St Gertrude’s Abbey) Pieter Was, had this wine press built to replace an older, run-down building from 1418. The Sint-Geertruisabdij owned several vineyards and its wine production must have been large considering the size of the Wijnpers.

But with the fall of the wine production in Leuven, the building fell out of use and was sold to the city in 1788, after which it served as a farmhouse.

After a thorough restoration in 1913, the Wijnpers became the property of the Brabant province, which placed a school there.

The Wijnpers became a protected building in 1938 and currently houses the ‘Provinciale School voor Moes- en Tuinbouw‘ (provincial school for horticulture).

The building name ‘De Wijnpers‘ thus became the name of the street and the whole area of the Wijnberg.

The Protected Mulberry Tree

Right by the Wijnpers is a huge black mulberry tree (Morus nigra).

Its trunk measures 2.76m around and its crown diameter is 17m. Based on these measurements, this tree is one of the oldest specimens in the whole region. Together with the Wijnpers building, the two form a historical unity.

Current situation

The secondary school ‘De Wijnpers – Provinciaal Secundair Onderwijs‘ is the modern buildings on top of the Wijnberg hill by the Mechelsevest. The rest of the terrain belongs to the provincial horticultural school, retaining its unbroken agricultural nature since the 12th century.

It is one of the highest points of Leuven where I regularly enjoy taking a walk. It offers one of the best panoramic view of the city, and one of the best secrets kept even from Leuven’s inhabitants.

 

Sources:

https://inventaris.onroerenderfgoed.be/erfgoedobjecten/42561
https://inventaris.onroerenderfgoed.be/erfgoedobjecten/131504
https://www.dewijnpers.be/
https://leuven-plus.be/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Buurtwandeling-Mannenstraat.pdf
https://levendleuven.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/flyer-levend-leuven-site-van-humbeeck-piron-wijnperssite-voor-web.pdf
https://scriptiebank.be/scriptie/2019/den-wijnghaert-soo-bevrosen-de-invloed-van-de-kleine-ijstijd-op-de-leuvense-wijnbouw

HOW IT LOOKS LIKE TODAY

Click on the zoom icon to view the full size.

  • SHARE:

Oud Leuven: #74 Brusselsepoort Today, Leuven's Brusselsepoort (Brussels Gate) is a sleepy junction that links the intra-muros Brusselsestraat to the extra-muros Brusselsesteenweg. Located on the hilly western side of Leuven, the Brusselsepoort once held a beautiful name of 'Wijngaardpoort' (Vineyard Gate) in the Middle Ages, as it commanded a splendid view over Leuven's sun-soaked slopes filled with rows and... Oud Leuven: #62 Vismarkt The oldest recorded marketplace of Leuven, the Vismarkt (Fish Market) is now an above-ground carpark that is framed by the Craenendonck, the Mechelsestraat, the Karel van Lotharingenstraat, the Visserstraat and the Augustijnenstraat. Its history as probably the first nuclear settlement of Leuven still lies hidden beneath the surface, as is an ancient arm of the... Oud Leuven: #60 Oude Markt Located between the Naamsestraat and the Parijsstraat, Leuven's "Oude Markt" (Old Market) has been the heart of the city's economic activities since the 12th century. The large rectangular square that measures 174 metres long by 35 metres wide, holds the title of "the longest bar in the world". 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. 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. Oud Leuven: #71 Parkpoort Located between the Tiensepoort and the Naamsepoort, the Parkpoort is one of the highest points of the ring road of Leuven that surrounds the city. During the Middle Ages, the defensive walls that linked these three city gates must have looked really high and impressive. Today, the Parkpoort is a road junction like all the... 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: 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: #48 Clarissenklooster Located on today's Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein in Leuven, was the Clarissenklooster - Convent of the Poor Clares. Yet they were nothing but poor. Read here to find out about their fascinating history. 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. 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: #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. Oud Leuven: #67 Mechelsepoort The 'Mechelsepoort' (Mechelen Gate) is one of the eight city gates inherited from Leuven's 14th-century outer city fortifications. It is located in the north of the city, at the end of the Mechelsestraat. Oud Leuven: #50 Priorij van Sint-Maartensdal The former Priory of St Martin's Valley (Priorij van Sint-Maartensdal) of Leuven existed from 1433-1784. Today, the site is the location of the city's iconic public housing blocks known by the same name 'Sint-Maartensdal', between the Sint-Maartenstraat and the J.P. Minckelersstraat. Oud Leuven: #22 Sint-Monicaklooster The Sint-Monicaklooster - Convent of St Monica - was a forgotten convent in Leuven founded by English sisters, fleeing Anglican persecution in their home country. Today, its location is on the Kapucijnenvoer opposite Biezenstraat, all the way from the former Sint-Rafaëlziekenhuis and the co-housing project BotaniCo up until opposite the entrance of the Kruidtuin, Leuven's...
  • Share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *