3 Famous Historical Cafes of Leuven

Leuven, a city renowned for its vibrant culture and rich history, is home to some of the most iconic cafes in the world. Among these, three stand out for their historical significance and enduring charm.

Each of these cafes not only serves as a testament to Leuven's rich café culture but also tells a part of the city's storied past, making them essential stops for anyone exploring Leuven.

Cafe Gambrinues (Grote Markt)

The only grand and the oldest café in the city where the atmosphere of the Belle Époque has remained between the panelling and the marble tables.

In this protected interior, generations of citizens and students commented on the world under allegorical scenes that were once commissioned by a Bräuhaus from Munich. The German beer, Gambrinus, was served to the visitors.

The first Gambrinus was located on the corner of Eikstraat and Boekhandelstraat in 1896; In 1905 the café received a star in Baedeker's renowned red travel guide. In 1932, the interior was transferred to the current building on the Grote Markt, which had been rebuilt after the devastating fire of Leuven in 1914 .

Taste the creamy café glacé served in silver cups: the angels and the graceful ladies are watching.


Café Commerce (Herbert Hooverplein 16)

In winter a spacious and bright taproom, in summer a wide terrace with a fantastic view of the university library, Ladeuzeplein and the spacious flower beds on Hooverplein.

Over the past quarter of a century, Commerce Cafe has transformed itself from a popular and student-friendly café into a permanent fixture for a wide audience. A good choice for simple but perfect snacks. The Chimay tripel from the barrel is a gift from the gods.


Café Metropole ( Oude Markt 46)

Cafe Metrople

The pub on the corner of the Oude Markt was predictably called 'The Tribunaal' in the old days.  After years, the café became a baron. extensively renovated to open its doors in 1983 under the name ' Metropole'.

An institution was born, with legendary waiters, long nights, an expanding terrace and a menu full of instant classics. The recipes for the 9-vegetable spaghetti , the Bolognese sauce and the tagliatelle alla Romana have been around for forty years,

The view of the 'longest bar in the world', as the Oude Markt with its dozens of cafes likes to call itself, is free.


SOURCE:  "The content of this article has been gathered from the book 'LEUVEN,' authored by Eric Mic and published in 2023."

 Photos by Aslı Tezcan  

3 Famous Historical Cafes of Leuven