The most important tourist attraction is undoubtedly the Great Beguinage (13th century), nowadays a student residential area, after the purchase, in 1962, and the restoration by the University. Only the name of this specific religious order has survived, since the last beguine died in 1988.
However, the University Parish attends to the religious services on behalf of the university community in John the Baptist’s Church built during the 14th and the 15th century.
On the whole, the Beguinage provides a 17th century spectacle. Only a few buildings are older, such as the half-timbered house or the so-called “Small Holy Ghost House”, a house that belonged to the Holy Ghost-Table. This is the name given to a parochial charity where destitute people could get a meal or food parcels.
The streetlights in this area, nowadays electrified, grade up a romantic atmosphere, especially at the sunset.
The Pope Adrian VI College is a 18th century version of a smaller institution, donated by Adriaen Florenszoon Boeyens to the University for the benefit of poor students. This priest from Ultrecht, a professor, afterwards bishop and pope from 1522 to 1523. Until now, he has been the only Dutchman who held this high office. The building now is one of the numerous student residences.
At the beginning of every academic year, after the celebration of the Eucharist, the professors stride through Pope Adrian VI College in the direction of Pieter de Somer’s Auditorium, where the Rector solemnly declare the beginning of classes.
Another university residence is Van Dale College (named after the founder), but this college kept its older character of the 16th and 17th century. Eighty students are accommodated in this place, which also houses several services and departments, such as the medical and the legal ones. Addresses of “digs” can be obtained here, one of the services rendered by the university housing department.