By continuing, you accept the use of cookies, including third party cookies. More information

Accept

Arty walk from Flagey to Villa Empain

Show/hide the menu
(c)Alex Vasey
Published at 02/12/2020
By Mylène

You've visited Schaerbeek and the Canal and Marolles neighbourhoods, now it's time to discover a neighbourhood where centuries coexist happily! From the Belle Epoque to the 1930s, and from the remains of an old abbey to contemporary sculpture and street art, we offer you a walk that will shake up your everyday and give you a warm and welcome boost as winter sets in. Colourful walls, bucolic breaks and historical anecdotes: Rediscover Ixelles with us!  

Flagey, queen of the night

Our itinerary begins at the iconic place Flagey, a true cultural crossroads which, day and night, exudes a delightfully festive atmosphere. Towering over the square, the Maison de la Radio and its unmissable stepped turret have been watching over this beating heart of the city since the 1930s. On the square, fans of contemporary architecture can admire the tram and bus stop, a real gem of style and technology. Inspired by nature, the glass and steel canopy was designed by German firm Latz & Partner in 2010 as part of the redevelopment of the square. Poetic and futuristic at the same time, it gives character and a breath of modernity to this corner of Flagey.

Did you know? A market square, a home for travelling circuses and Christmas markets... and even a hot air balloon launching site! Place Flagey, one of the largest squares in Brussels, is truly multifunctional!

Bruxelles - Flagey façade art nouveau - Bruxelles Etangs d'Ixelles - (c) visit brussels, Jean Paul Remy

A feast for your eyes

Follow the trees as you continue your walk along the west bank of the Ixelles ponds. Start a bucolic stroll between the weeping willows and the bourgeois facades of the dream houses that line the water. In front of you, like an ocean liner, the Maison de la Radio is reflected in the ponds. Your eyes are spoilt for choice and you don't know where to look anymore? Feast your eyes on number 36 avenue du Général de Gaulle. Named "La cascade", this modernist building covered with sandstone tiles, is striking with its balconies and rounded oriels. Close by, at numbers 37 and 39, don't miss the ironwork on the facades of two Art Nouveau houses by Ernest Blérot.

Did you know? What are now known as the "Ixelles ponds" are none other than the old fish ponds of the Abbey of La Cambre where fish were farmed. Of the 4 ponds that used to be scattered along the Maelbeek valley, only two are left.

Bruxelles street art - (c) Collectif Propaganza - (c) visit.brussels

Graffiti in the city

After your beautiful Belle Epoque escapade, walk up avenue Géo Bernier and then rue du Bourgmestre on your way to Chaussée de Boondael for a spot of street art. A veritable open-air art gallery can be found between numbers 210 and 224. In just a few metres, about twenty graffiti artists have embellished the walls with their singular universes. We love the abstract and perfectly mastered compositions of Ben Hendlisz, the colourful work of Dake which warms up any wall and the hyperrealistic accents of young Brussels artist Nean. Led by the collective Propagandza, this project gives a great insight into the creativity of the Belgian street scene. Afterwards, retrace your steps and head back to the Ixelles ponds.

Did you know? The origins of the Chaussée de Boondael date back to the 13th century. At the time, it linked the village of Ixelles with the hamlet of Boondael and was part of the old road to Namur, Luxembourg and Nancy.

(c) visitbrussels - Jean Paul Remy

Uptown Abbey

There are places that make us want to turn off our phones and escape our busy world for a moment. La Cambre Abbay is one of those peaceful and timeless places that call for complete disconnection. The Gothic church and 13th century Cistercian monastery are surrounded by green spaces arranged for walks and contemplation. Let your mind and feet wander in either the very chic classical and renaissance gardens organised in terraces, or the hollow of a more wooded valley and its pond. After this green interlude, it's time to head towards avenue Franklin Roosevelt.

Did you know? The gardens of La Cambre Abbay are home to some beautiful and remarkable trees. Among them, a pair of maple-leaved plane trees stretch far out from the shelter of the stone walls at the back of the Abbey. One of them has a trunk with a circumference of 5 metres and branches that extend for almost 10 metres!

Bruxelles art street Fondation Boghossian - Nadim Karam, Spaces in-between / Fondation Boghossian (c)Sara Talib

The bright lights of the city

When you reach Villa Empain, turn towards the central island of avenue Franklin Roosevelt. Two ornate silver discs shine there and attract your gaze with their reflections. Created by Lebanese artist Nadim Karam, this sculpture evokes the sometimes complex relationship between East and West. "Face to face, these two surfaces trigger a historical dialogue that intersects in many places but also contains divides," the artist explains. Named “Spaces in-between”, the sculpture plays with the notion of the in-between. Part of the collections of the Boghossian Foundation, it reflects a strong desire to create a dialogue between art and the city.

Craving more contemporary art? Within the context of the Boghossian Foundation's latest exhibition, "The Light House" at nightfall, avenue Franklin Roosvelt becomes a veritable corridor of light. The street lamps on the avenue diffuse a blue light whose intensity varies along the route. It's the perfect way to end your stroll with a touch of magic!

To read also...

See all