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Go for a stroll in the Canal district

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© visit.brussels - Jean-Paul Remy
Published at 03/11/2020
By Mylène

In Brussels, much of the city's cultural life is on hold until November. Museums, theatres and cinemas are temporarily closed and events are postponed until further notice. While waiting for activities to resume, why not set off to discover our neighbourhoods in complete safety? Architectural curiosities, open-air sculptures, remarkable façades... culture is just around the corner!

 

This week, head to the Canal district and its surrounding area between Tour & Taxis, place Sainctelette and Quai au Foin/Hooikaai. Immerse yourself in this arty, lively and sometimes underground corner of the city, thanks to our open air route that takes you to discover street art and trendy galleries, parks and works of art.

Arty city: street art and graffiti

street art le long du canal - Bruxelles - (c) visit.brussels - Jean-Paul Remy

Give your eyes a real treat and walk along Quai des Charbonnages - Koolmijnenkaai and Quai des Péniches - Akenkaai in the direction of Tour & Taxis. The walls of these streets are strewn with colourful tags and murals. In particular, you will come across works by creative collective "Farm Prod", the colourful abstractions of Oli-B and one of Brussels' pillars of urban culture, Sozyone. A few streets away, the installation of the very recent Ruby Gallery dedicated to street art only confirms the importance of this discipline in this corner of Brussels.

Did you know? Among the many murals that line the quays, it is impossible to miss the mural of the adventures of Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt. It is the longest of its kind in the capital!  

Boulevard de Dixmude 19 Diksluidelaan, 1000 Brussels

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La skyline au vert

Parkfarm (c) visit.brussels - Jean-Paul Remy

With its motto "from the pitchfork to the plate", ParckFarm is a green space composed of an urban vegetable garden, in the middle of which stands a greenhouse, the Farm house. Supported by the ParckFarm non-profit organisation, the park is a citizen's platform that promotes ecological, sustainable and solidarity-based practices. This long, green valley offers an astonishing view of the northern district and its skyline!

 

Did you know? In the 1960s, a handful of property developers dreamt up a project of 8 gigantic towers called "Manhattan" for the northern district of Brussels. Today there is still one skyscraper, the Manhattan centre! It's a little slice of the American dream in Brussels!

 

Boulevard du Jubilé - Jubelfeestaan, 1080 Molenbeek-Saint-Jean

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The KAAI and the Kanal: two architectural gems

At Place Sainctelette, two monumental pages of Brussels' 20th century architectural history stand side by side. There's the proud façade of the Kaaitheater, a modernist and Art Deco ensemble inspired by ocean liners (with architectural touches reminiscent of naval architecture) and, to its right, the 25 metres of glass, steel and concrete that make up the former Citroën garage. With its modernist accents, it was, for a long time, the largest garage in Europe and will now host the Kanal - Centre Pompidou!

 

Although it's impossible to visit the exhibition of the moment, you can stop and admire the car which has been transformed into a sculpture by artist Eric Van Uytven. Entitled "Scar the Car", this carcass bears the traces (scratches, graffiti, various inscriptions) of passers-by who were invited to inscribe their feelings or messages of hope during the lockdown. It's an emotionally charged work of art that's very personal to the city!

 

Did you know? Back in 1913, this very spot was home to the rollercoasters, slides and other adrenaline rides of an amusement park!

 

Square Sainctelette - Sainctelettesquare, 1000 Brussels

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L’art contemporain sur la place

Wim Delvoye "Cement Truck", novembre 2010 © Epizentrum CC BY-SA 3.0

A medieval-looking semi-trailer parked in the middle of the quai au Foin? No, you're not dreaming! "Cement Truck" is a three-dimensional work of art made entirely of carefully laser-cut steel. Conceived by Wim Delvoye, a leading figure in Belgian contemporary art, this astonishing piece of construction machinery provokes astonishment. By combining the finesse of the Gothic style with the massive silhouette of a truck, the work plays on the discrepancy between the centuries and aesthetics with a lot of humour and a touch of provocation.

 

Did you know? Belgian artist Wim Delvoye is fascinated by medieval aesthetics and loves to include them in his works: stained-glass windows depicting football matches, shovels decorated with heraldic motifs and even gothic cement trucks!

 

Quai au Foin - Hooikaai, 1000 Brussels

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