The Catholic University of Leuven, or Louvain, was the largest, oldest and most prominent university in Belgium. Pope Martin V founded the Old University in 1425. After the disruptions of the French Revolutionary Wars, it was re-founded in 1816 as the State university of Louvain and converted into the Catholic University of Leuven in 1835.
In 1968 the university split to form two institutions:
- Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Dutch-speaking, situated in Leuven; and
- Université catholique de Louvain, French-speaking, situated in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.
The new main library was built between 1921 and 1928 and designed by the American architect Whitney Warren in Low Countries neo-renaissance style. Its monumentality is a reflection of the Allied victory against Germany. It is one of the largest university buildings in the city. In 1940, during the second German invasion of Leuven, the building largely burnt down, including its (at that time) 900,000 manuscripts and books. Rebuilt after the war in accordance with Warren's design, it is now the Central Library of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. The paintwork decorations of the original design were completed only in 2000, and marked the 575th anniversary of the university's foundation. Thank you Thomas for sending me this card from Leuven.