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Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (or K. U. Leuven, or in English Catholic University of Leuven - also the translated name of its French-speaking sister university) is a Flemish university, located in the town of Leuven in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking (northern) region of Belgium. It was founded in 1425 by pope Martin V and is now the oldest Catholic university in the world still in existence. In its early days this university was modeled after the universities of Paris, Cologne and Vienna.
The main campus of the university is located in Leuven, while the French-speaking Université catholique de Louvain is in Louvain-la-Neuve. Until 1968, there was only one University of Leuven, where both Dutch language and French language (although mostly French) were used. After repeated protests from Flemish organisations and student population, however, the University was split. The Dutch University of Leuven remained in the city of Leuven, while the French speaking Université Catholique de Louvain moved to the newly built campus of Louvain-la-Neuve, south of the linguistic border dividing Belgium. The main library, with all its old documents was split at that moment also. Documents and books with an odd registration number stayed in Leuven, the even-numbered ones moved to Louvain-la-Neuve.
The first library was located in the university halls, and was enlarged in 1725 in baroque style. In 1914, Leuven was ransacked, and a large part of the city was put to fire, effectively destroying about half of the city. The new main library was built between 1921 and 1928 and designed by the American architect Whitney Warren in low countries neorenaissance style. Its monumentality is a reflection of the victory against Prussian Germany. It is one of the largest universitary buildings in the city. However, in 1940, ironically, during the German armed forces invasion of Leuven, the building largely burnt down, including its (at that time) 900000 manuscripts and books. After the reconstruction and the split of the university in 1968, nowadays the library owns about one million works.
K.U. Leuven is a strongly research oriented university (notwithstanding it has more than 30,000 students), and its ambition is to be among the top European universities in terms of scientific output. For instance, Rijndael, the cipher chosen as the Advanced Encryption Standard, was developed at K. U. Leuven.
- Adriaan Florisz. Boeyens, later Pope Adrian VI
- Desiderius Erasmus, humanist
- Georges Lemaître, Big Bang theory
- Gerard Mercator, cartographer
- Andreas Vesalius, father of modern anatomy
- List of universities in Belgium
- Coimbra Group (a network of leading European universities)
- Ghent University
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