A weekend in…
The authentic Sainte-Catherine and Saint-Géry
Separated from the historic centre by Boulevard Anspach, the districts of Sainte-Catherine and Saint-Géry are hotbeds of innovation and cosiness. Unlike its historic counterpart, it isn’t packed with spectacular sights and legendary hotspots, but it’s a g
THE SECOND CENTRE
If the Bruxellois say they’re about to stroll through the city, there’s a big chance that they are referring to Sainte-Catherine rather than the actual centre. At and around the Place Sainte-Catherine, there are shops, terraces and picture-perfect alleyways aplenty. On the square itself, the Église Sainte-Catherine will grab your attention. In the weeks before Christmas, its façade makes the canvas for a spectacular light show. If you walk to the back of the church, you’ll find the ancient Tour Noire (Black Tower). As it dates back to the 13th century, this old city gate could not be torn down when Novotel wanted to build a hotel on that same spot, which is why the chain built its hotel around it with this odd view as a result. In fact, playing fast and loose with the protection of historical monuments is referred to as ‘brusselsification’, as absurd installations like these are all but rare in the city.
Place Sainte-Catherine (Sainte-Catherine, metro 1 and 5).
WALKING ON WATER
It’s hard to imagine today, but the Sainte-Catherine district was once a fisherman’s neighbourhood. Little canals of the Senne river ran up to the church and attracted fishing and sailing aficionados alike. In the early 20th century, the docks were filled in and became stretched-out city squares, which is what you’ll still find here today. Start your walk at the Quai aux Briques (the biggest of the docks) and continue through the rest. Some are parks, others more like beautiful walking boulevards. The Quai aux Briques even has some water features. If you feel like heading for the water afterwards, follow the Quai du Commerce until the end. From here, you are mere metres away from today’s canal.
Quai aux Briques, Quai aux Barques, Quai au Foin, Quai du Commerce (Sainte-Catherine, metro 1 and 5).