Ixelles (48)

Every city has an area in which the most up-to-date bars, fashionable bohemian artists and the student population are concentrated. So, if you are the kind of person who likes such surroundings, then look no further. You have found it: your district is Ixelles.

But in the early nineteenth century, Ixelles used to be just a small town of 1,500 inhabitants. This changed, however, with the demolition of the walls that surrounded Brussels, as the district then had a lot more space to grow and to expand, up to the point where it became one of the capital’s most important peripheral districts.

What is more, the district is also well-known for a broad variety of lively cafés and restaurants, and for the charm of its lakes and woodland. It is here that you will find one of Brussels’ most popular public parks: the Bois de la Cambre. This park was created in 1860 by an architect of German origin, who designed a green space based on English-style gardens. Here you can enjoy an artificial lake, two meadows and a large number of different species of trees. The park became popular almost immediately, particularly because the royal family often took a walk along its roads. 

Elsewhere, to the north of these gardens you will encounter the idyllic Abbey of La Cambre. This abbey was founded in 1201, when Duke Henry I and his wife Matilda donated this part of the valley to Cistercian nuns. They built a monastery here that was to reach the height of its popularity at the end of the thirteenth century, when Saint Boniface chose the site to retire to. However, after centuries of religious conflict, the abbey was closed in 1796. Although it is currently home to the Higher School of Architecture, you may still take a look at the old church, where you can see the interesting painting of the “Christ of Sorrows”. Meanwhile, do not forget to visit the beautiful parade ground and the French gardens, which provide a peaceful place for a good rest. 

Lastly, this district also includes two interesting museums: the Musée Communal d’Ixelles and the Musée Constantin Meunier. 

The Meunier Museum is located in the old house where Meunier, who is considered one of Belgium’s best sculptors, lived and taught. The collection of Meunier’s works you will find here includes numerous sculptures and paintings by the artist, in which his interest in subjects related to work, specifically mining, is evident. 

The Musée Communal d’Ixelles, for its part, is home to a magnificent collection of works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, noteworthy among which are five paintings by Magritte and nearly all the posters that were designed by Toulouse-Lautrec. 

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