KU Leuven will celebrate its 600th anniversary in 2025, making it one of Europe’s oldest universities. Our institution has the double honour of being the oldest university in the Low Countries and the oldest extant Catholic university in the world. The University that is now known as KU Leuven was founded with the papal bull ‘Sapientie immarcessibilis’. This was issued by Pope Martin V on 9 December 1425 after the city of Leuven had requested permission for the foundation of the University with the support of John IV, Duke of Brabant, and the city’s clergy.

The university of Leuven initially comprised four faculties: humanities (‘Artes’), canon law, civil law, and medicine. In 1432, the Pope gave permission to add theology to that list.

Ever since it was founded, the University has had its headquarters in what is now known as the University Hall. Initially meant to serve as the cloth makers’ hall of Leuven, this stately building was constructed in 1317. In 1425, it became the beating heart of the University, with offices for the Rector and Vice Rectors, and it was home to various University services. For several centuries, the University Hall also comprised lecture halls and meeting rooms for the faculties. The University court had its seat there as well.

For more information: KU Leuven