Sunday, March 25th 2018
This is the last day of our rather short stay in Brussels. Our train does not leave until 18:56 so we have a good part of the day to spend in town. We checked out of the hotel but left our bags there to collect nearer our departure time.
We did not have any specific destination in view and just wandered on foot or by tram here and there until it was time to collect our bags and make for the station. The photos below are therefore a rather random selection without any unifying theme.
St Catherine’s Church was built between 1854 and 1874.
It replaced a 15th-century church, most of which was demolished in 1893, leaving the bell-tower extant beside the new church.
This building occupying a corner and accommodating a café bar called La Machine, as well as being architecturally interesting, caught my eye because of the painted panel above the entrance or, rather, the motto written on it. This reads ‘CECI N’EST PAS UN GRAFFITI’ (‘This is not a graffiti’) which is a rather self-conscious reference to the painter René Magritte and his famous painting Ceci n’est pas une pipe. René Magritte, we need hardly remind ourselves, was Belgian.
This building, bearing the date 1881, is known as the Halles Saint-Géry or Marché Saint-Géry and was created as a covered market. It no longer functions as such but is now used for displays and exhibitions.
The interior is well lit by a glass roof running the whole length of the building/ There is also a gallery providing an upper level. The banner bearing the word ‘RÉVOLUTION’ was part of the current exhibition, not a call for violent upheaval.
This was presumably the main water supply for the market, as suggested by the deep basin beneath the spout.
We travelled about mainly by tram. We had bought 24-hour passes which are good value because, for €7.50, they allow unlimited travel on buses, trams and the metro for a period of 24 hours from the moment of first use.
This rather striking building, dating from 1879, is called the Maison Communale d’Anderlecht and is roughly equivalent to the town hall of an English borough. Anderlecht is one of the 19 communes into which Brussels is subdivided for administrative purposes. The style of design is known as ‘neo-Flemish Renaissance’ and looks back to the 16th century when the Flemish Renaissance was at its peak.
The Étangs d’Ixelles or Vijvers van Elsene (‘Ixelles Ponds’) are two long narrow lakes bordered by parkland within the commune of Ixelles. They remain from the draining of the marshes and now provide a popular area of recreation where you can stroll or sit, go boating and even fish on certain days of the week. The church steeple you can see is that of the Église Sainte-Croix (Church of the Holy Cross).
This slightly curious-looking building, standing on the corner of Rue de la Brasserie and Avenue des Éperons d’Or (their names mean, respectively, Brewery Street and Golden Spurs Avenue) has a café on the ground floor and offices to rent on the upper floors. Apart from that, I know nothing about it, such as when it was built or the reason for the unusual design which includes a tower. I photographed it because it was odd and I liked it!
I must admit to never having heard of Charles Théodore Henri De Coster until I came across his monument on the corner by the Ixelles Ponds. It is slightly unusual in that it shows, not the great man himself, but representations of characters from the novel for which he is mainly known. This was entitled Aventures de Thyl Uylenspiegel et de Lamme Goedzack au pays de Flandres et ailleurs (‘Aventures of Thyl Uylenspiegel and Lamme Goedzack in the land of Flanders and elsewhere’) and was published in 1867. Of the novel, Wikipedia rather disarmingly says that it is ‘a 16th-century romance, which was barely read in Belgium because it didn’t meet up to the conventional standard of Belgian nationalism, but became popular over the rest of the world.’ The monument was erected in 1894 by Charles Samuel (sculptor) and Frans de Vestel (architect).
At last it was time to bring our ramble to an end and take the tram back to the hotel to collect our bags for the journey home. That journey was uneventful. We boarded the Eurostar at Bruxelles Midi Station and stepped off it at St Pancras, London. A short bus ride later and we were home.
Brussels is one of my favourite cities and I found it as enjoyable on this admittedly short trip as on previous occasions. I look forward to further visits in the future.