A weekend in…

Five stun­ning Art Nou­veau des­ti­na­tions

If you haven’t heard about Art Nou­veau, you might have heard in­stead about Ju­gend­stil, Stile Lib­erty or Modernismo Catalán. All these names re­fer to the same art move­ment, which took the world by sur­prise dur­ing the so-called ‘fin de siè­cle’. The seeds fo



It’s hard to miss the Old Eng­land build­ing when reach­ing the top of Mont des Arts. This ex­trav­a­gant con­coc­tion of glass and steel has its name writ­ten on it in gi­gan­tic let­ters. To­day, the build­ing houses the Mu­si­cal In­stru­ments Mu­seum (MIM) and a restau­rant on top of­fer­ing panoramic views. In its early days, it was the Bel­gian flag­ship store for the Bri­tish de­part­ment store Old Eng­land, which was lo­cated here from 1899 un­til 1972. If you just want to grab a bite with­out vis­it­ing the mu­seum, you can get a free ticket straight to the top at the en­trance.

Mu­si­cal In­stru­ments Mu­seum, Mon­tagne de la Cour 2 (Parc, metro 1 and 5). €10 (dis­counts avail­able). Open Tues­day to Fri­day from 9.30am to 5pm, and on week­ends from 10am to 5pm.


No man mas­tered the Art Nou­veau tech­niques like its found­ing fa­ther, Vic­tor Horta. His most fa­mous piece of work is his pri­vate res­i­dence and the ad­join­ing work­shop, which have now been trans­formed into the Horta Mu­seum. The permanent ex­hi­bi­tion in­side is fas­ci­nat­ing, but it is mainly the build­ing it­self that will leave you breath­less. The UNESCO-listed house stands out with its stun­ning stair­case, abun­dance of nat­u­ral light and in­trigu­ing in­te­rior.

Horta Mu­seum, Rue Améri­caine 25 (Saint-Gilles) (Place Jan­son, tram 81, 92 and 97). €10 (dis­counts avail­able). Open Tues­day to Fri­day from 2pm to 5.30pm, and on week­ends from 11am to 5.30pm.


In the city cen­tre, in the shadow of the Bourse (see page 33), you can en­joy a beer or a meal in a re­gal finde-siè­cle set­ting. Mir­rors, stained-glass win­dows and chan­de­liers turn this tav­ern into an Art Nou­veau Wal­halla, and the beer menu will en­ter­tain even the great­est ar­chi­tec­ture lay­men. The restau­rant was re­cently re­stored but thank­fully lost none of its au­then­tic charm.

Le Falstaff, Rue Henri Maus 19 (Bourse, tram 3 and 4). Free en­trance for café guests. Open daily from 10am to mid­night.


For proof that Art Nou­veau wasn’t just a move­ment for the happy few and their gi­gan­tic man­sions, look to Mai­son Saint-Cyr, a four-me­tre-wide house with a daz­zling façade. Most im­pres­sive is the round bal­cony on the third floor, which fits the es­tate like a crown. It will hardly come as a sur­prise that the ar­chi­tect of this build­ing, Gus­tave Strau­ven, was one of Horta’s ap­pren­tices. To­day, the house is pri­vate prop­erty and can there­fore not be vis­ited. Yet, if you put your­self on a bench at the green Square Am­biorix, you can gaze away while en­joy­ing the quiet park.

Mai­son Saint-Cyr, Square Am­biorix 11 (Schu­man, metro 1 and 5). Not open to the public.


Art his­to­ri­ans agree: Hô­tel Tas­sel was the very first Art Nou­veau build­ing. This town­house in the charm­ing Ix­elles neigh­bour­hood was de­signed by Vic­tor Horta for Emile Tas­sel, a rich sci­en­tist. The de­sign stood out be­cause of its ground-break­ing floor plan, its in­ter­est­ing mix of ma­te­ri­als and its rev­o­lu­tion­ary views on dec­o­rat­ing. Look­ing at the façade to­day, it might not look like text­book Art Nou­veau, as the glass­work and whiplash lines are scarcer than on later de­signs. Nev­er­the­less, this is a must-see for ar­chi­tec­ture afi­ciona­dos as it is a UNESCO-clas­si­fied build­ing that changed history for­ever.

Hô­tel Tas­sel, Rue Paul-Emile Jan­son 6 (Ix­elles) (De­facqz, tram 8 and 93). Not open to the public.

 ??  ?? The Old Eng­land build­ing.
The Old Eng­land build­ing.
 ??  ?? Mai­son Saint-Cyr.
Mai­son Saint-Cyr.
 ??  ?? Hô­tel Tas­sel.
Hô­tel Tas­sel.

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