The City of Leuven

Leuven is first mentioned in relation to the Battle of Leuven, in the late 9th century, when a Viking army was defeated by Arnulf of Carinthia. It soon became a significant trading and manufacturing centre, famed for its quality linens.

Commercial activity continued to grow and by the Middle Ages Leuven had become an administrative centre under the rule of The Counts of Leuven.

Today the University, KU Leuven, founded in 1425, is one of the world’s leading universities.  Since 2016, KU Leuven has headed the Reuters list of Europe’s most innovative universities, and ranks seventh in world rankings.

Leuven is an internationally oriented city and region, lying at the crossroads of health, high tech and creativity. It is a perfect breeding ground for companies, entrepreneurs, investors and talent.  In 2020, the iCapital of Europe jury unanimously chose Leuven as European Innovation Capital.

EU Quarter Brussels

Leuven is less than 30km (19miles) from Brussels, putting us within easy reach of the EU Quarter, where most of the important European institutions are located – the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council.

Brussels is the hub of political activity in Europe, with diplomats, special interests, representative bodies, businesses, NGOs, journalists and lobbyists promoting, debating and shaping the EU’s policies and laws.

Irish College Leuven engages daily with the European Union’s political and administrative bodies and the organisations based around the institutions.


Flanders Fields

The horror and destruction of the First World War still scar the landscape of North East Belgium, just two hours’ drive from Leuven.

Since the war ended in 1918 the people of Flanders, particularly around the town of Ieper – also known as Ypres – have committed themselves to keeping that part of history alive, so future generations will learn from the futility, destruction and massive loss of life and help prevent it happening again. Across the region museums, cemeteries and interpretive sites bring history vividly to live.

Irish College Leuven organises excursions for students to the Ieper Salient, with visits to museums, education centres, former battlefields, preserved archaeological sites, cemeteries and memorials. We can also arrange daytrips across the border to the Somme region of France, where other key events of The First World War took place.

Within 100km

Leuven is an ideal base for anyone wanting to explore the Benelux and North Western Europe. Five countries can be reached in just over an hour’s drive, each of which can be included as part of your tailor-made programme.

Within Belgium itself there are many special places to visit, including Ghent, Antwerp and Bruges. The German cities of Aachen and Köln are within easy reach, as are the Dutch cities of Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Maastricht.

The French towns of Lille, Reims and Dunkirk are to the west, while Luxembourg, one of Europe’s leading financial centres and some to some key European institutions, lies to the South East.

North West Europe is the mostly densely populated region in Europe. It is home to leading businesses, large manufacturers, international corporate headquarters, and major logistics centres for trade in and out of Europe.  This intense activity provides Irish College Leuven with access to a network beyond its door.