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Tour & Taxis: The Renovation Of A Historic Postal Center In Brussels

Old and New Architecture | © Christopher Case
Old and New Architecture | © Christopher Case
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, one of Brussels’ most interesting historical landmarks is experiencing a rebirth. Starting its life as a postal facility, Tour & Taxis is undergoing a massive renovation to transform this historical site from an eyesore to a mecca for culture in Brussels. While the modernization process is ongoing, visitors do not have to wait to enjoy the fruit of the laborer’s efforts, as they can already experience a wide variety of cultural events.
Tour and Taxis © Christopher Case

The rise and fall of a postal empire

In the early 1500s, the German Von Thurn und Tassis family were the kings of postal services in Europe. Seeking to expand their empire, the family discovered a piece of marshy land near Brussels which perfectly served their needs. Using this site, the family established the first international postal service and cemented the Thurn und Tassis (Tour & Taxis) legacy with Brussels for the next several hundred years. However, in the 1960s the site lost its prestige and progressively deteriorated, as new customs and shipping sites were opened throughout Belgium.

Old and New Architecture © Christopher Case

In the early 2000s, after many years of neglect and disuse, efforts were launched to reinvigorate the prestige of this once noble and historic site. With a grand vision to offer visitors a variety of retail and leisure options, renovation work began in 2008, breathing new life into an old building. Developers are seeking to draw in visitors with a mixture of old world charm mixed with modern conveniences.

Old and New Architecture © Christopher Case

Shopping and dining

Built in the early 1900s, the main building of the Tour and Taxis complex is the Royal Depot. Initially serving as a storage and customs clearance facility, the Royal Depot is a spectacular example of beautiful industrial architecture. With a high glass roof and massive interior, natural light flows throughout the building. Seeking to keep as much originality as possible, the designers of the Royal Depot strike a fine balance between old and new. A perfect illustration of their efforts is seen in the modern glass flooring, which simultaneously covers and displays the original railways in the building for all to see.

Following the renovation, the Royal Depot now offers visitors a variety of shopping options, from interior design companies to beautiful jewelry. When shoppers have reached the limits of their endurance, they can take a relaxing break at one of the four high-end restaurants. If this is not enough to rejuvenate weary feet, visitors will certainly enjoy the hamam.

Old and New Architecture © Christopher Case

Expos

In addition to the massive shopping and dining options, the Tour & Taxis complexes also host an impressive array of cultural expositions, including art, music, design, and digital festivals.

Two of the expositions which will certainly speak to a wide net of culture lovers are this summer’s Couleur Café music festival and the Brussels Antiques and Arts Fair, or (BRAFA).

Kicking off the summer festival season in early July, the three day multicultural Couleur Café 2016 is Belgium’s largest Urban and Reggae festival. Lovers of hip-hop, soul, funk, reggae, dub, ska and Latin music will have no trouble finding an artist who speaks to their taste.

For those looking to take some historical culture home with them, they need look no further than the BRAFA. As one of Europe’s leading art fairs, visitors will have a variety of vendors to choose from when seeking to take home their favorite art pieces.

As this re-emerging landmark in Brussels continues to develop, be sure to check out the Tour & Taxis agenda for what else is on the horizon for upcoming expositions and events.