The city of Louvain-la-Neuve is located less than an hour south of Brussels. I had long heard that it was a major University City for the Franch-speaking Belgians. But what I never fully understood is the story of why and how the city was built, only 40 years ago, in a very unique manner.
So today, accompanied by my cousin, we headed down to LLN to see the city and how it all works. As we rode the train into town, I knew we had arrived when suddenly everything went dark and the train went into a neverending tunnel.
This is not only true for trains, but for cars as well, all traffic circulates underneath the city. As we got off the train and climbed the stairs up to street level, you look around and see people walking in every direction, the occasional bicycle, and only the sounds of people.
It was pretty amazing to see, a city who’s construction began only in 1968. And even back then, they understood that to create a truly vibrant and healthy city, you should find a way to have NO cars on the roads. Voila, you never see the cars because they are underground. Occasionally you run into a stairwell or an elevator to the sub-level street where there is parking. But otherwise, you see nothing but college students in their early 20’s, a beautiful site in such a calm environment.
A place like this amazes me when you consider the terrible cities that exist in this world. Obviously most of them were not properly planned and are so old that extreme circumstances led to some aspects getting out of control. But still.. then you visit Louvain-la-Neuve, and while it may not be the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen, it is still wonderful… especially when you think to yourself… people can create and live in a place like this.