UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Brussels

HOW MANY UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES ARE IN BRUSSELS?
Brussels in Belgium is a proud owner of quite a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites! Though there are 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Brussels, there are technically 4. If you write it down you may wanna list it as 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d and 4. I'll explain that now.

Palais Stoclet Josef Hoffmann Franz Metzner

UNESCO Brussels Stoclet House
Pic Credit: Danielle Rae Sauv√© via Instagram (used here with permission)

Palais Stoclet Josef Hoffmann Art Nouveau Brussels UNESCO

Palais Stoclet Josef Hoffmann Art Nouveau Brussels UNESCO

Palais Stoclet Josef Hoffmann Art Nouveau Brussels UNESCO  Palais Stoclet Josef Hoffmann Art Nouveau Brussels UNESCO

PALAIS STOCLET (STOCLET PALACE)

HISTORY OF STOCLET PALACE?
Stoclet Palace was commissioned by banker and art collector Adolphe Stoclet and was designed by the Art Nouveau architect Josef Hoffmann. It was built in 1905-11. Adolphe Stoclet is every designer's dream come true, coz he did not have any restriction on aesthetics or money when he hired Hoffman and Hoffman realized his creation of lifetime. 

ART NOUVEAU & ART DECO IN BRUSSELS
What is the difference between Art Nouveau and Art Deco? To put in a nutshell, Art Nouveau is very fluid and nature-inspired with a lot of curves and intricate and Art Deco is more geometrical, streamlined and in some aspect, very international! So is Palais Stoclet (Stoclet House) an Art Nouveau or Art Deco building? Well, its a mix of both! It was designed in late Art Nouveau that overlapped with and paved the way to Art Deco! The unique blend of 2 very different and very strong art periods is one of the major reasons why Stoclet House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
Palais Stoclet is one of the gorgeous Art Nouveau buildings in Brussels, with hints of Art Deco in it. Stoclet House houses one of my favourite paintings, Gustave Klimt's Kiss in its dining room!!! Atop the building is the bronze sculpture of 4 n*de men by Franz Metzner. All the iron window grill detailing depict the typical Art Nouveau styling. The architecture of the whole building of Stoclet House is very modern and leans towards Art Deco. To imagine that it was built at the beginning of 20th C, it is rather an outrageous design!!! Till date, the palace is occupied by the Stoclet family. 

CAN YOU VISIT PALAIS STOCLET (STOCLET HOUSE / PALACE) INTERIORS? 
As I mentioned above, Stoclet House is a private property still occupied by the Stoclet family. Adolphe Stoclet himself lived there till his death in 1949. He has 3 children and today they occupy the house. So, no, you can't get inside Palais Stoclet! All I did was to admire the building from the street.  I really hope they open it to the public, even if it is heavily ticketed and has severe restrictions like leaving everything in the lockers outside and go through airport-style checks! 

Where is Stoclet Palace (On Google Maps): Stoclet Palace
How to reach the Stoclet Palace? It is located about 1.2km from Cinquanternaire Park. The nearest Tram stop is Leopold II which is located just in front of the house. It is connected by tram lines 39 & 44 from Montgomery. Tram line 44's final destination is Africa Museum of Brussels. Since Stoclet Palace cannot be visited and can be seen only from outside, it can be a quick stop-over on the way to Royal Museum of Central Africa or a quick detour when visiting Auto World or War Heritage Museum in Brussels Cinquantenaire Park. 
Stoclet Palace entry tickets & timings: As mentioned earlier, Stoclet Palace is not open to the public. The building can be seen from outside at any time!
When was Stoclet House inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site? 2009

Grand Place Grote Markt Brussels UNESCO

Grand Place Grote Markt Brussels UNESCO

 Grand Place Grote Markt Brussels UNESCO Grand Place Grote Markt Brussels Interiors UNESCO

Grand Place Grote Markt Brussels UNESCO


 
GROTE MARKT (GRAND PLACE) BRUSSELS

HOW TO PRONOUNCE GRAND PLACE?
The first time I visited Brussels, as a quick day-trip from London, my first stop was Grand Place & Manneken Pis and I asked the locals for 'Grand Place' with a very 'English' pronunciation, early in the morning and people gave a blank stare. So, here's the thing. The local language in Brussels is French and Grand Place is pronounced in French as 'Graaan(g) Plaaas'. 

HISTORY OF GROTE MARKT (GRAND PLACE) BRUSSELS
The oldest reference to this place dates back to the 12th century when this was a market place for a settlement in the banks of river Senne, which flowed here in the heart of Brussels once upon a time. It was then surrounded by municipal buildings. Later in 1695, Louis XIV bombarded the city and it was completely destroyed in 3 days. Very few buildings survived this attack. However, the whole market place was completely rebuilt in a Gothic style just like how it was before. It underwent several transformations over the years to how it looks today. 

HOTEL DE VILLE DE BRUXELLES
The building whose balcony is accessible during Flower Carpet is the Stadhuis van Brussel (NL) or Hotel de Ville de Bruxelles (FR) or the Brussels Town Hall (EN). The building is very much in use, as government office for multiple organizations including a Tourist Information Office. A stroll inside made me so astonished that how lucky those employees are to sit in the midst of such exquisite murals on an everyday basis!!! 
The oldest part still surviving part is from 1420 CE and that's where I got to visit during Flower Carpet 2016!!! However it is only the building that survives, the entire interiors including the murals & tapestries were made in 1868 by Victor JamarThe entire interior - walls & ceiling is all covered with murals and the entire exterior is filled with sculptures. The tower which is an octagonal openwork is 96m tall.
On either side of this central belfry are the tourism office & beer museum. Opposite to this is Maison du Roi which houses the Brussels city museum where the original sculpture of Manneken Pis is located. All the other buildings are also built in the gothic style with golden gilded detailing! 
Also Read: At a walking distance from Grand Place are the 3 peeing statues of Brussels, Fashion & Lace Museum, Garderobe Manneken Pis, Comic murals and Comic Strip Museum, BOZAR museum etc

IS IT POSSIBLE TO VISIT INSIDE GRAND PLACE BRUSSELS?
Yes! Though it is not open to the public generally, it is open on certain days. Flower Time is a bi-annual event that happens inside the Hotel de ville de Bruxelles. So buying a ticket to Flower Time assures you a visit inside Grand Place. Otherwise, every Wednesday afternoon and Sunday guided group tours happen here every hour. The ticket for it should be bought at the tourist information office here. 

EVENTS AT GRAND PLACE
Several events happen time and again at Grand Place. After moving to Brussels, I've seen quite a few events here and here are the ones I've written about in this blog and my YouTube channel.

Where is Grand Place (On Google Maps): Grote Markt Brussels
How to reach Grand Place? Grand Place is considered the heart of Brussels. All the streets around it are walking zone where vehicles aren't permitted without prior permission & approval. The nearest railway & metro station is Gare Central and nearest tram stop is Bourse.
Grand Place entry tickets & timings: Outside - Free, 24x7
Grand Place interiors guided tour entry tickets: €7
Grand Place interiors guided tour entry timings: Once an hour. Wed - 1:00PM to 4:00PM; Sun: 10:00AM to 5:00PM
Grand Place guided tour starting point: Visit Brussels tourist information centre at Grand Place
When was Grand Place Brussels inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site? 1998

Hotel Tassel UNESCO Brussels Victor HortaAtyudarini UNESCO Hotel Tassel Brussels Victor Horta

Hotel Solvay UNESCO Brussels Victor Horta

Hotel Solvay UNESCO Brussels Victor Horta

Hotel Solvay UNESCO Brussels Victor Horta

MAJOR TOWN HOUSES OF VICTOR HORTA 

ART NOUVEAU IN BRUSSELS
Though the Art Nouveau movement, as an art form, originated in Britain, Art Nouveau architecture originated here in Brussels, Belgium! Brussels is dotted with several Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings. This was around the late 1800s to early 1900s. Paul Hankar, Victor Horta, Josef Hoffman, Paul Saintenoy (who designed the Old England Departmental store which houses the Musical Instruments Museum today) are some of the notable architects who designed the buildings of Art Nouveau architecture in Brussels. Art Deco followed Art Nouveau and many of the architects who designed Art Nouveau migrated to Art Deco including Victor Horta. Some of the important Art Deco architecture in Brussels incl. Koekelberg Basilica, Gare du Nord railway station etc.

Self-guided free Art Nouveau Walking tour - Louise district - via Visit Brussels
Self-guided free Art Nouveau and Art Deco Walking Tour - City Centre - via Visit Brussels

WHERE ARE THE BUILDINGS DESIGNED BY VICTOR HORTA IN BRUSSELS?
So as I said at the beginning of the post, the 3rd in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Brussels is actually 4 buildings designed by architect Victor Horta in Art Nouveau style - Hotel Tassel, Hotel Solvay, Hotel van Eetvelde and the House and Workshop of Victor Horta
The House & Workshop is preserved as a museum today and can be visited. Of the 3 hotels, Hotel Tassel and Hotel van Eetvelde are closed to the public and are accessible by guided tour only twice a year. Since 2021, Hotel Solvay has been opened to the public after a long time.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO VISIT HOTEL TASSEL & HOTEL VAN EETVELDE?
Hotel Tassel was built in 1893, commissioned by Emile Tassel and is now a private property. From the exterior, every door, their handle, every window, the iron grill detailing, columns and every little detail were inspired by leafy patterns & exhibited Art Nouveau. Hotel Van Eetvelde was commissioned by Edmond van Eetvelde in 1895. These 2 can be visited only during the BANAD festival (Brussels Art Nouveau & Art Deco) that happens in March every year. The tickets get sold out very quickly! 
Btw,  the first pic above this section is me in front of Hotel Tassel in 2016 and the pic beside is Atyudarini in 2020. 

Where is Hotel Tassel (On Google Maps): Hotel Tassel (very close to Hotel Solvay & Horta Museum)
Where is Hotel van Eetvelde (On Google Maps): Hotel van Eetvelde (walkable from Cinquantenaire Park and European commission)
Details of BANAD Festival: Official website of BANAD

IS IT POSSIBLE TO VISIT HOTEL SOLVAY?
Yes!!! It had been impossible for a long time except during BANAD. But now, since Jan 2021, the doors of Hotel Solvay has been thrown open to the general public. I'm yet to visit the place. I will update as soon as I manage to do that! Hotel Solvay is 2 buildings away from the Hotel Tassel. It was built in 1894-1903 and was commissioned by Armand Solvay

Where is Hotel Solvay (On Google Maps): Hotel Solvay (located very close to Horta Museum & Hotel Tassel)
How to reach Hotel Solvay? Nearest tram stop - Bailli (served by tram routes 81, 8, 93). Tram 81 is a direct connection from Cinquantenaire Park & Auto World. 
Hotel Solvay entry tickets: €16
Hotel Solvay timings: pre-booking via the official website of Hotel Solvay necessary

HORTA MUSEUM - HOUSE & WORKSHOP OF VICTOR HORTA
This was of course designed by Victor Horta as his own house and studio, in 1898. Later in 1919, he sold them both. In 1961 the House was bought by Saint Gilles municipality and the house was restored by architect Jean Delhaye. Later in 1963, the Studio was also bought by them but it was in 1989 that architect Barbara Van der Wee restored it. Today the 2 can be visited together.
The house gives an in-depth insight of not only Art Nouveau architecture but also the art! Every furniture, showpieces, functional objects in the house including heaters, furniture, everything screams Art Nouveau. 

Where is the Horta Museum (On Google Maps): Horta Museum
How to reach Horta Museum? Located at a walkable distance (less than 1km) from Hotel Solvay & Hotel Tassel. Nearest tram stop - Janson (served by tram routes 81, 92)
Horta Museum entry tickets:  €10 (included in museumPASSmus√©es)
Horta Museum timings: Tue-Fri - 2:00PM to 5:30PM; Weekends - 11:00AM to 5:30PM. Prebooking via official website of Horta Museum necessary
When were the major townhouses of architect Victor Horta inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites? 2000

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Brussels Belgium Sonian Forest

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Brussels Belgium Sonian Forest

SONIAN FOREST

WHERE IS SONIAN FOREST?
Unlike the other 3, this is located in the outskirts of Brussels and unlike the other 3 which are UNESCO Cultural heritage sites, Sonian forest is a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site. Sonian Forest is also the only UNESCO Natural Heritage Site in Belgium. 
Sonian Forest is located in the southern tip of Brussels Capital Region and extends through Flemish Brabant province of Flanders and finishes in Walloon Brabant province of Wallonia. It is one of those unique sites that spread through all the 3 regions of Belgium. There are very many waymarked trails in the forest. 

ANCIENT AND PRIMEVAL BEECH FORESTS OF THE CARPATHIANS AND OTHER REGIONS OF EUROPE
Sonian Forest is listed as one of the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe. Sonian Forest was added to the existing list in 2017. There are 5 little sockets within Sonian Forests which are listed under UNESCO and 2 of those 5, Grippensdelle A & B, are located in the Watermael-Boitsfort area, in the southern edge of Brussels. 

Where is Sonian Forest (Watermael-Boitsfort) (On Google Maps): Grippensdale A, Grippensdale B
How to reach Watermael-Boitsfort? The nearest tram stop is Delleur served by Tram route 8. It is possible to take DeLijn buses 17 or 366 to reach very close to the main points. Otherwise, you could begin your walking trail at Delleur tram stop. 
Sonian Forest entry tickets & timings: Free, 24x7
Hiking trail map of Sonian Forest - Watermael Boitsfort: 8.2km trail, 2.4km trail both via RouteYou
When was Sonian Forest inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site? 2017

UNESCO Brussels PinterestUNESCO Brussels Pinterest

BRUSSELS  TRANSPORT CARD (STIB JUMP 10 or 24 HOURS CARD)
For any traveller, the best way to explore Belgium easily is with the
 STIB 24 hours Transport CardI prefer public transport with buses, metro & tram, and all of these places are easily accessible by public transport. However, Metro connectivity doesn't reach the nooks & corners and the outskirts of Brussels as buses & trams. 

P.S: I was invited by VisitBrussels to experience the city for review purposehowever, the opinions are my own and this post does not advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands