10 must-visit world-class Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels!

10 must-visit world-class Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels!

Away with all those neo-styles, it’s time for new materials like iron, steel and glass! The style revolution had already begun in France and Britain, but it was in Belgium that Art Nouveau was born, thanks to the visionary mind of Victor Horta.

It was born in 1893, with the building of the Tassel hotel, which (better than any manifest could have done) gave rise to the new architectural style.

The building was a first major calling card for Horta, who went on to leave his mark on the capital along with the support of other great architects of the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century such as Hankar, van de Velde, etc.

The era had moved on from Gothic Revival, Neoclassicism, Renaissance Revival, etc. It was itching for new ideas, materials and an elegant natural style, with a touch of Japan to counter the cold, grey march of industrialism.

It was also a fruitful period for areas for urban development: times were prosperous and the population was more than happy to provide funds for construction. In return, Brussels got Art Nouveau gems that remain to this day the envy of the rest of the world.

  • Make sure you visit this top 10 of Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels:

    1. The Horta Museum

  • The Horta Museum is housed in two connected buildings: The architect’s house and his workshop. They present Art Nouveau in its purest form, at its prime. Both buildings were bought by the commune of Saint-Gilles in the 60s and turned into a museum which opened in 1969.

    Visit: the Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 2:00-5:30 pm. Last entry is at 5:00 pm

  • 2. The Tassel Hotel

  • The Tassel hotel was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. And with good reason, as it’s regarded as the first genuine Art Nouveau building in the world and is, therefore, an architectural icon.

    Visit: the venue can be visited by request, but please enquire in advance. Subject to the owner’s availability.

  • 3. The Autrique House

  • The Autrique House, designed by Victor Horta in 1893, is the first large town house that the great architect built, around the same time as the Tassel Hotel. Here too the structural and decorative innovations are characteristic of Art Nouveau.

    Visit: from Wednesday to Sunday, from 12:00 to 6:00 pm - last admission at 5:30 pm.

  • 4. The Cauchie House

  • The Cauchie House, that dates back to 1905, is named after its architect and the original owner Paul Cauchie, who worked primarily with decoration and painting. His speciality was large sgraffiti, which is plain to see on the building’s façade.

    Visit: every first weekend of each month, from 10:00 am to 1 pm and from 2:00 to 5:30 pm. Last visit was at 4:30 pm. 

  • 5. The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)

  • The Old England building – previously a shop, but now owned by the government – is a remarkable example of Art Nouveau, with its black metal structure. Although the MIM is often considered to be only this dark metal structure, the complete construction is made up of three buildings in which no less than 1,200 musical instruments are on display, with more than 8,000 in total being stored.

    Visit: Tuesday - Friday: 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and on holidays: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

  • 6. The Max Hallet House

  • This building along the prestigious avenue Louise is genuinely sober. That isn’t simply down to the logical evolution of Art Nouveau architecture around 1900, it’s also because of the building’s purpose. It was built by Victor Horta in 1903 to be both a home and an office for lawyer Max Hallet.

    Visit: the venue can be visited by request, but please enquire in advance. Subject to the owner’s availability. www.explore.brussels

  • 7. The Solvay House

  • The Solvay House is regarded as one of Victor Horta’s finest works, which unsurprisingly lead it to be added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2003. Standing on the chic avenue Louise, it is a perfect example of how the well-to-do families of 19th century bourgeoisie lived.

    Visit: the venue can be visited by request, but please enquire in advance. Subject to the owner’s availability. www.explore.brussels

  • 8. The Eetvelde House

  • According to Victor Horta himself, the Eetvelde House, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, was the most daring of his entire oeuvre. Politician Edmond van Eetvelde was someone who believed in new ideas and architectural innovation. He allowed Horta to let his artistic inspiration run wild when he commissioned him to design a home for his family.

    Visit: the venue can be visited by request, but please enquire in advance. Subject to the owner’s availability. www.explore.brussels

  • 9. Foundation Frison Horta

  • The foundation Frison Horta sits in the middle of Rue Lebeau and was built by Victor Horta in 1894 for Georges Frison, a renowned lawyer. It is a house of nature and light with murals and frescoes of flora and fauna that engulf the whole house. Foundation Frison Horta is a cultural institution and centre for art. It acts as a cultural bridge between east and west that fosters greater understanding and appreciation of the rich cultural traditions of India in Europe and vice versa.

    Guided visit (30') by appointment only

  • 10. The Belgian Comic Strip Center (BCSC)

  • The Belgian Comic Strip Center stands in what was once a textiles warehouse. Victor Horta was commissioned by textile merchant Charles Waucquez to develop the building. In the 1980s the building was bought by the government to save it from being demolished.

    Visit: every day from 10 am to 6 pm.