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Art Nouveau & Deco: A Walking Tour Of Saint-Gilles, Brussels

Rue Vanderschrick | Courtesy of Camilla Colavolpe
Rue Vanderschrick | Courtesy of Camilla Colavolpe
Brussels is one of the greatest (and most overlooked) areas in which to appreciate Art Nouveau and Deco buildings. In Saint-Gilles, one of the most eclectic municipalities of the city, you will find a great concentration of architectural masterpieces. Head south of the historic center to the top Art Nouveau and Deco sights in Saint-Gilles.
Victor Horta Museum © Francisco Antunes/Flickr

Musée Victor Horta

Affectionately named ‘the father of Art Nouveau in Brussels,’ Victor Horta is one of the Art Nouveau movement’s main architects. It’s no wonder, then, why a visit to his home-turned-museum would be the ideal starting point for a relaxed walking tour focusing on this fil rouge. Observe how this innovative space was developed with extreme attention to detail. From the ground floor to the attic, this building offers a better understanding of the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 2pm-5:30pm

Musée Victor Horta, Rue Américaine 22, 1060 Brussels, Belgium +32 2 543 04 09

Hotel Hannon - detail | © Camilla Colavolpe

Hotel Hannon – detail | © Camilla Colavolpe

Hotel Hannon

Museum, Memorial
Horta Metro Station
Horta Metro Station | ©Lin Mei/Flickr
On the corner of rue Américaine, you will encounter the next stop. Built by the architect Jules Brunfaut upon Edouard Hannon’s request in 1902, the Hotel Hannon is a unique building that encapsulates many features of the Art Nouveau movement. The building itself evokes several ornate details: the spiral mahogany stairwell facing a circular, elaborated mosaic floor (Paul-Emile Baudouin); its beguiling frescoes, ironed balustrades (Pierre Desmedt) and stained-glass windows (Raphaël Evaldre). It also hosts the Museum Espace Photographique Contretype, (currently under renovation) and is dedicated to disseminating creative images in memory of Hannon’s passion for photography.
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Horta Premetro Station

North, towards Port de Hal, there is an out-of-the-ordinary Art Nouveau example, but this time it is underground. Maybe the frequent or occasional public transport riders would have already noticed it, but the Horta Premetro Station hides surprising examples of Art Nouveau. At this particular metro station, you will find stained-glass windows of the Hôtel Aubecq and balustrades from Maison du Peuple (demolished in 1965), incredible remnants to see — just tilt your head up.

Horta Premetro Station, Chaussée de Waterloo, 1060 Brussels, Belgium

Piscine Victor Boin from the outside | © Camilla Colavolpe

Piscine Victor Boin from the outside | © Camilla Colavolpe

Piscine Victor Boin

Art Nouveau and Deco architecture is impressive due to the variety of forms and functions they take. This is particularly true in Saint-Gilles, where an entire public swimming pool launched in 1905 was completely remodeled in Art Deco style between 1938 – 1940. This spacious building also hosts a cafeteria which faces the swimming pool, creating an unexpected spot to take a refreshing break.

Opening Hours: Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri, 8am – 7pm | Wed, 2pm – 7pm | Sat, 9am – 12pm & 1pm – 6pm

Piscine Communale Victor Boin, rue de la Perche 38, 1060 Brussels, Belgium +32 2 539 06 15

Rue Vanderschrick | © Camilla Colavolpe

Rue Vanderschrick | © Camilla Colavolpe

Rue Vanderschrick

A few minutes from the Barriére area and its beautiful sights sits one of the rarest Art Nouveau ensembles architecturaux — 14 buildings which date back to the beginning of the 20th century (1900-1902) and were partially renovated in 2004, with different façades and bundles of used materials, signed by le maître de l’unité dans la diversité: Ernest Blérot. Of course, you will find other examples of these Art Nouveau conglomerates signed by the same master in other areas, but only in rue Vanderschrick will you find such a high concentration of buildings that are still well preserved. Although the richness and decorative element on each façade, each distinct home matches in a harmonious way. Experience a walk within this fin de siècle atmosphere!

Ensemble (or Séquence) Blérot, Rue Vandershrick 1 a 13, 15 to 25, 1060 Brussels, Belgium

Brasserie Verschueren | © Camilla Colavolpe

Brasserie Verschueren | © Camilla Colavolpe

Brasserie Verschueren

Brasserie, Belgian, $$$
Maison Hoguet
Maison Hoguet | © Camilla Colavolpe
If you wish to have a break in a café full of character, just around the corner from the previous landmark you’ll find just what you need. On the lively Parvis de Saint-Gilles, le Brasserie Verschueren welcomes you with a placid atmosphere and artsy clientele. Enjoy a coffee or a simple but delicious meal against the backdrop of stained glass windows, geometric floor tiles, and wooden panels displaying football league results. Enjoy a drink or two within this geometric Art Deco environment.
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Maison Hoguet

Maison Hoguet, situated on rue de Rome 24-28, is another clear example of Art Deco architecture, designed by Jean Ligo. Formerly tailoring atelier workplaces and Hoguet family’s home back in 1928, in 1970 the building was left to the Commune de Saint-Gilles under the condition it would be used for cultural purposes. From tailoring atelier to Académie de Musique, Maison Hoguet is currently the hosting space of La Maison du Livre, an association and bibliotheque, celebrating the passion of the Saint-Gilloises for the lecture publique.

Maison Hoguet, Rue de Rome 24-28, 1060 Brussels, Belgium

Rue Defacqz

As the ideal way to finish this tour, take a peek at one of the houses down rue Defacqz, close to Avenue Louise. Although half is in Saint-Gilles and the other in the municipality of Ixelles, this street offers numerous examples of the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels by the great architect Paul Hankar. In Ixelles, number 48, you will find La Maison Ciamberlani (1897) built at the request of painter Ciamberlani, and number 50, the Hôtel Janssens. On the Saint-Gilles side, you may admire the Maison Hankar and its astonishing sgraffitis at house number 71. This street is definitely a fantastic place to admire the intricacy and sinuosity of the lines and the pure expression of whims and fantasy signed by and Art Nouveau master.

Maison Hankar, rue Defacqz 71, 1060 Brussels, Belgium

By Camilla Colavolpe