The streets of Brussels!

And I come back at you for some memorable walks in one of my favorites cities/countries, Brussels/Belgium. I have done a series of these posts as we love to walk once in town, and had overlooked doing it for Brussels. Of course, impossible to pick up all the streets , even the most famous ones but on some quant picturesques parts of Brussels we love to walk on. This is a wonderful area to walk indeed and we love it. Now for the memories.

You know the famous squares of Brussels for that see those posts, pleny on Belgium in my blog. For now, let me tell you about some of the streets of Brussels. And I will start small as in the movies and then finish in grandeur.

Place Poelaert, which towers 63 meters above the lower city of Brussels, serves as a gigantic forecourt for the Brussels Courthouse. The construction of an urban elevator makes it possible to quickly connect the lower town and the upper town. Measuring 155 by 50 meters, it is the largest square in Brussels. It is located on the old ravine park and the gardens of the Hôtel de Mérode, now the Cercle de Lorraine ( a business club). The buildings that line it have no particular style and are examples of the architectural errors of the 1950’s of the 20C. These office blocks then contrast with the impression given by the Themis palace which crowns it and casts its shadow there. On the Place Poelaert square were erected the National Monument to the Belgian Infantry and the Monument to the British soldiers. At number 3, the old hotel “La Régence” was built there in 1928-1929 in a simplified Louis XV style, it has a look that contrasts with the functional buildings of the rest of the square.


The Rue du Marché aux Herbes begins its route behind the Saint-Nicolas Church, at the corner of rue des Fripiers, rue de Tabora, for the odd side, and petite rue au Beurre, for the even side. Passing not far from the Grand-Place in Brussels, it goes up to the Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert before widening to form a triangular square Marché aux Herbes from where the rue de la Montagne, the rue des Éperonniers, rue de l’Infanta Isabelle and rue de la Madeleine. On this square give the Museum of original figurines and the Horta Gallery which allows access to the Brussels- Central train Station by passing under the Méridien Hotel. The center of the square is decorated with a fountain from the end of the 20C celebrating the memory of the mayor Charles Buls. It is totally pedestrian before joining the Grand Place.

The Rue du Marché aux Herbes is home to a large number of remarkable buildings, including several Baroque houses of great interest. These are the Maison au Cardinal section 37, n ° 14; Maison du Char d’Or, n ° 89, section 37, n ° 13. Maison de la Lunette, n ° 93, section 37, n ° 12 Maison à la Rose, n ° 97; Maison du Léopard, n ° 105, Maison de Saint-Paul , n ° 111, section 37, n ° 2., and Maison du Cheval Volant, at the corner of rue des Éperonniers, section 37 , n ° 1. Maison de L’Agneau Blanc, n ° 42, adorned with charming rare sculptures and unique sculptures from the period in Brussels but which are irretrievably and sadly falling apart under the bad weather. Maison roi d’Espagne section 37, n ° 171, (disappeared). Maison l’Aiguière d’Or, section 37, n ° 172, (disappeared), adjoining the next. It was the home of sculptor Pierre Van Dievoet. Maison du Renard Blanc, last house, at the corner of rue de la Putterie (disappeared), plot section 37, n ° 173. Several dead ends lead to rue du Marché aux Herbes: Impasse des Cadeaux, near number 8; Impasse Saint-Nicolas, near number 12, and Impasse Sainte-Pétronille, between numbers 66 and 68.


For an overall look at this district of Brussels, let me give a general opening remarks. The Le Sablon is a district located in the historic center of Brussels which includes the Petit Sablon and its square, the Notre-Dame Church, the Place du Grand Sablon as well as the surrounding streets. Near the Quartier des Arts, the Sablon was not far from the ramparts of the first enclosure. The Hôpital Saint Jean who owned the land made it a cemetery in 1299 then ceded part of it in 1304 to a crossbowmen guild who undertook to build a chapel, the future Notre-Dame du Sablon Church (see post).

The rue aux Laines was an extension of the Sablon; there are still on the odd side the hotels of Lannoy and Mérode-Westerloo. In the rue des Petits Carmes, on the other side of the Egmont palace, was the Hôtel de Culembourg in the 16C, where the Compromis des Nobles was drawn up in 1566. To remove all traces of this seditious act against the king, the Duke of Alba had the hotel razed in 1568 and built an expiatory column on its site.

This old quarter was remodeled in the 19C by the opening of rue de la Régence between Place Royale and the Palais de Justice. This Haussmannian artery runs alongside the houses adjoining the church which were destroyed from 1872. In the 19C, it was gradually abandoned by the aristocracy in favor of new posh districts, such as the Leopold district. In the 20C, the Place du Grand Sablon was occupied by a more modest population and there were small workshops and warehouses inside the islets. At the end of the 1960s,it was witnessed a new residential and commercial transformation: several antique dealers came to settle in the district following the demolitions in the Mont des Arts district. The Sablon gradually became so popular that it will give rise to the creation of a neologism: sandblasting, the local version of gentrification.

And here I split the two main spots. The Place du Petit Sablon slopes down to the Palais d’Egmont at n ° 8 at the Place du Petit Sablon. In the Middle Ages, the Zavelbeek (Sablon stream in Dutch) had its source at the top of Petit Sablon This stream helped shape the topography of the streets of the district: the south side of Petit Sablon, rue des Sablons, the south side of Grand Sablon, rue de Rollebeek as well as rue des Alexiens and rue des Bogards correspond to its roughly straight course. In the middle of the current square is an exceptional garden, the Petit Sablon square, inaugurated in 1890. It is surrounded by a wrought iron balustrade inspired by the one that once adorned the gates of the old Coudenberg palace, at the like the Place de la Gare de Binche. The painter Xavier Mellery drew the forty-eight statues. Each stone pillar supporting the statues is decorated with an original decoration and these pillars themselves are connected by grids with all different patterns. A delight for admirers of the know-how of yesteryear. Too many to mention here but go see it!

In the center of the square stands the Fountain of the Counts of Egmont and Horne, symbols of resistance to Spanish occupation in the 16C. This fountain was originally located in front of the maison du Roi in the Grand Place. This group is surrounded by ten statues arranged in a semicircle representing politicians, scholars or artists of the 16C, Again several to mention go see it . Around the park stands a group of 19C houses, most of them neo-classical. Only, at n ° 9, the house known as “Au Roy d’Espagne” dates from the 17C.


On the other side of the Notre Dame Church, the Grand Sablon forms a vast irregular quadrilateral, 150 meters long, but only 30 meters wide in the west and 40 meters in the east square. The Grand Sablon once communicated with the Petit Sablon by rue Bodenbroek and rue des Sablons. These two streets were cut off from part of their route by the opening of rue de la Régence, which accentuated the break between the two Sablons. In the 13C, the Grand Sablon was a marshy and sandy meadow, which was outside the first enclosure of Brussels. In the 16C, this square was called Forum Equorum in Latin or Peerdemerct in Dutch, (that is to say Horse Market), because of the horse market which was held there from 1320 to 1754. The name Sablon is however older. In the 14C, it was called Zavelpoel (meaning Sablon basin in Dutch), because of the basin which occupied its center and which only disappeared in 1615. After the filling of this basin, it was erected a fountain at its location in 1661. The water which supplied it was brought by a new pipe from Obbrussel. It was replaced in 1754 by the Minerve fountain, restored in 1999. The Place du Grand Sablon was often the scene of festivals and competitions, but also of tragic events. It was the site of a mass execution on June 1, 1568, when eighteen signatories of the Noble Compromise petition were beheaded there. Belgian sovereigns often came to attend competitions until the 1950s. King Leopold II, he came there, he said, “as a neighborhood neighbor”

The bottom of the Place du Grand Sablon square underwent major modifications at the end of the 19C. It only communicated with the rue des Minimes by the little rue des Minimes and the rue du Coq-d’Inde. In 1884-88, rue des Minimes was widened and extended in a straight line towards the square, leading to the disappearance of rue du Coq-d’Inde and several houses at the bottom of the square. The Sablon used to communicate with the lower part of the city only by the rue de Rollebeek. To improve these communications, the rue Joseph Stevens was pierced in 1894, at the same time creating a perspective towards the Notre-Dame de la Chapelle Church. The drilling of rue Lebeau in 1893 was part of the same intention.

On Saturdays and Sundays the Antiquities and Book Market is held there. All around the Place du Grand Sablon square, a number of antique shops, designer boutiques, restaurants, hotels, an auction house and several well-known Belgian pastry and chocolate makers such as Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini, and Godiva enliven the district. The square is the starting point of the Ommegang procession every year and on November 20, that of Saint-Verhaegen, celebration of the foundation of the Free University of Brussels.

Remarkable building here are N ° 4: This Louis XIV house is dated “1728” with a frieze. Its nucleus is undoubtedly older. N ° 5: This house was formerly known as the Hôtel du Chastel de la Howarderie. Built in classic style around 1785, it is deployed in an L around an interior courtyard. Two spans were added to the facade in 1857. It has a beautiful interior decoration in Louis XVI style, whose staircase has a stucco decoration and a spiral staircase. In the courtyard there are stables, an orangery and two small gabled houses from the 17C, one of which still has a baroque style ceiling. N ° 15-16: This 17C house has a baroque gable. N ° 38-39: These two pretty stepped gabled houses may seem original. This is not the case: the pinion had disappeared in the 19C. In 1954-57, they were raised by one story and surmounted by a new gable. No. 39 carries a fictional vintage from 1667. No. 43: This house is all that remains of a 16C mansion. Of the original five spans, only two remain, the other three having been destroyed during the extension of rue des Minimes. The ground floor still has two arches with a basket handle, in a finishing Gothic style. And N ° 49: This narrow stepped gabled house carries anchors which would make it go back to the year 1567. It was formerly a well-known cafe called “Les bons enfants”.


Some webpages in English to help you guide to these wonderful streets and pleny more in Brussels are

The tourist office of BrusselsTourist office of Brussels

City of Brussels and its webcams!(yes they are empty now) city of Brussels and its webcams

The metro area of Brussels official webpage on tourism: Region of Brussels on tourism

There you go a bit long but the history is important and the architecture fantastic when you walk around a city. There is a lot behind those bricks! Hope you enjoy it and do walk the streets of Brussels

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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