Louvain, (Dutch: Leuven, Belgium, an old Flemish town in Brabant province, on the Dijle River. It is about 15 miles (24 km) east of the center of Brussels. The Catholic University of Louvain, founded in the 15th century, is Belgium's oldest and most famous university. Since 1970 it has consisted of two separate institutions, one with instruction in French, the other in Dutch. The library at the French university is one of the finest in Europe. Among the town's noted structures are the Cloth Workers' Hall (1317) and the Gothic town hall (1463). Among the several fine churches is the 15th-century Church of Saint Peter. Louvain is noted for breweries and bell foundries.
Louvain first became prominent as the residence of the dukes of Brabant in the 12th century. It was a noted textile center in the 1300's, but lost its leadership when the weavers fled about 1383 following a period of strife between nobles and workers. After the founding of the university in 1425, the town became a leading center of learning. The university library was destroyed in World War I and rebuilt with international aid. It was again destroyed in World War II and again rebuilt.