Louvain-La-Neuve celebrates its 50th birthday
50 years ago, on 2 February 1970, the first stone was laid of what would become Louvain-La-Neuve. Today, the city is still house to a large part of the faculties of the French-speaking section of the Catholic University of Louvain, but not only that.
The first academic year started on 20 October 1972. The creation of the city was immediately accompanied by the construction of Belgium's first science park. In a move that was exceptional for the time, the city was entirely reserved for pedestrians as soon as it was built; cars and trains travelled underground.
It was a city focused on the future
It might have been expected that with its close links to its university, this city in the municipality of Ottignies, in Walloon Brabant, would become a ghetto, inhabited solely by students and lecturers and deserted from Friday evening to Monday morning. This was in fact the case during the first few years, but the town grew over time and became a real hub of activity with urban frescoes, statues, shops, performance venues, museums, cafés and restaurants, all serving a diverse population of all ages.
Louvain-la-Neuve now has almost 25,000 students, approximately one fifth of them from abroad.