Let’s talk about the amazing Brussels Art Nouveau movement. Go to this city and you’re in for a real treat!
Art Nouveau flourished in Brussels in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the city is home to some of the most stunning examples of this architectural style in the world.
If you’re a fan of Art Nouveau or simply appreciate beautiful architecture, Brussels is a must-visit destination. In this guide, I’ll take you on your very own walking tour through the city’s most breathtaking Art Nouveau Brussels buildings, from the iconic Hôtel Tassel to the lesser-known but equally enchanting Maison Saint-Cyr.
I’ll explore the distinctive features of Art Nouveau architecture, such as its sinuous curves, organic motifs, and use of new materials like iron and glass.
Along the way, I’ll highlight some of the best places to enjoy Art Nouveau in Brussels, including museums, galleries, and walking tours. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, this guide will help you appreciate the beauty and significance of Art Nouveau in Brussels, and deepen your understanding of this fascinating period in art and design. So come along and discover the city’s hidden gems, and be prepared to be amazed by the sheer beauty of Art Nouveau in Brussels.
Table of Contents
What is Art Nouveau Architecture?
Art Nouveau is an architectural style that originated in Europe in the late 19th century and reached its peak popularity in the early 20th century. It’s characterized by its use of organic forms, flowing lines, and natural motifs such as flowers, leaves, and vines.
Art Nouveau architecture is known for its decorative elements, which often feature intricate details and ornate designs. The style emphasizes the use of new materials such as iron, glass, and ceramics, and often incorporates curves and asymmetrical shapes.
One of the most distinctive features of Art Nouveau architecture is the use of the whiplash curve, which is a sinuous, undulating line that gives the impression of movement and fluidity. This curve is often found in decorative elements such as wrought iron balconies, window frames, and doorways.
This style of architecture was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, which emphasized the importance of traditional craftsmanship and rejected mass-produced, machine-made products. This led to a focus on handmade decorative elements, such as tiles, stained glass, and metalwork.
Some of the most iconic examples of Art Nouveau architecture can be found in Brussels, Paris, and Barcelona. The movement had a significant impact on the development of modern architecture, and its influence can still be seen in contemporary designs today.
About the Art Nouveau in Brussels Movement
Brussels is well-known for its Art Nouveau architecture, and some say, it’s where it all began.
One of the key figures in the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels was Victor Horta, who is often referred to as the father of Art Nouveau architecture. Horta designed a number of iconic buildings in Brussels, including his own house, which is now a museum dedicated to his work.
Other notable architects who contributed to the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels include Paul Hankar, Henry Van de Velde, and Gustave Strauven. Together, they created a unique style that was characterized by a high level of craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Art Nouveau architecture in Brussels reached its peak in the early 1900s, but the movement declined in popularity after World War I. More than 1,000 buildings from private homes to public spaces, were built in the Art Nouveau style in Brussels, but only about half of them remain today.
Brussels Art Nouveau Walking Tour Map
Now it’s time for the tour. There are two options for you.
- Self-guided, free walking tour with the help of this article. It’s as simple as plugging in the addresses into your phone and letting your phone map app take you to each Art Nouveau house.
- Join a 3-hour guided group tour that takes you to the Bailli district to see several of the most important Art Nouveau houses and finishes at the Victor Horta Museum.
Check prices and book your dates for the group tour experience!
Art Nouveau Tour Brussels: Loop #1
Plug into your phone the following addresses:
- 224 Louise Avenue
- 6 Rue Paul Emilie Janson
- 83 Rue de Livourne
- 48 Rue Defacqz
- 71 Rue Faider
- 83 Rue Faider
- 92 Rue Africaine
- 25 Rue Americaine
Now, let’s start the walking tour.
#1 Hotel Solvay (224 Louise Ave)
The Hotel Solvay is considered one of the most iconic examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Brussels. Designed by the famous Belgian architect Victor Horta, the house is known for its intricate ironwork, sinuous lines, and decorative details inspired by nature. It was completed in 1893 for Armand Solvay, a wealthy industrialist, and is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Belgium.
#2 Hotel Tassel (6 Rue Paul Emilie Janson)
The Hotel Tassel is another iconic example of Art Nouveau architecture in Brussels and is considered one of the earliest examples of the movement. It was designed by Victor Horta for Emile Tassel, a professor of geometry at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and was completed in 1893.
The house is known for its distinctive use of iron, glass, and natural materials, as well as its flowing lines and intricate decorative details. It is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
#3 Octave Van Rysselberghe House (83 Rue de Livourne)
The Octave Van Rysselberghe House is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau architecture in Brussels. Designed by Octave Van Rysselberghe, a prominent Belgian architect, the house was completed in 1912 and features elegant decorative details such as stained glass windows, ironwork, and intricate tilework.
It’s now a museum dedicated to the life and work of Van Rysselberghe and offers a fascinating glimpse into the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels.
#4 Ciamberlani House (48 Rue Defacqz)
The Ciamberlani House is a stunning example of Art Nouveau architecture in Brussels. It was designed by Paul Hankar for Albert Ciamberlani and was completed in 1897. The house is known for its intricate ironwork, decorative tiles, and use of natural motifs such as flowers and leaves.
It has been designated as a protected monument by the Brussels-Capital Region and is considered one of the city’s most beautiful examples of Art Nouveau architecture.
#5 Hanker House (71 Rue Faider)
The Hankar House is a remarkable example of Art Nouveau architecture. It was designed by architect Paul Hankar in 1893 and is known for its distinctive use of curved lines, natural motifs, and intricate decorative details. The house was designed as both a home and an artist’s studio and features a variety of innovative design elements, such as a double-height studio space with a skylight.
Today, the Hankar House is recognized as a protected monument by the Brussels-Capital Region and is open to the public for tours.
#6 Unnamed House (83 Rue Faider)
The unnamed townhouse was designed in 1900 by Albert Roosenboom.
#7 Unnamed House (92 Rue Africaine)
The unnamed townhouse was designed in 1905 by Benjamin de Lester-De.
#8 Horta House (25 Rue Americaine)
The Horta House is one of the most famous examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the world. It was designed by the Belgian architect Victor Horta in 1898 as his personal residence and studio and is considered a masterpiece of the Art Nouveau movement.
The house features a stunning array of Art Nouveau details, including intricate ironwork, stained glass, and decorative tiles. Today, the Horta House is open to the public as a museum and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone interested in Art Nouveau architecture and design.
Art Nouveau Brussels Map – Loop #1 – Louise to Ixelles to St. Gilles
Art Nouveau Tour Brussels: Loop #2
Plug into your phone the following addresses:
- 5 rue des Francs
- 11 Ambiorix Square
- 24 Palmerston Avenue
- 4 Palmerston Avenue
- Gutenberg Square and Marie Louise Square
Now let’s go discover the art nouveau houses in walk tour Loop #2!
#1 Cauchie House (5 Rue des Francs)
The Cauchie House is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau architecture and design. It was designed by Paul Cauchie, a Belgian architect, in 1905 as both a home and a studio. The house features a stunning facade adorned with intricate Art Nouveau details, including a beautiful mural made of enamelled plates that depict the four seasons. Look closely for the personal inscription meant for his wife ‘Par nous, pour nous’ or ‘By us, for us.’
The interior of the house is equally impressive, with intricate woodwork, decorative tiles, and stained glass windows. Today, the Cauchie House is open to the public and offers a unique glimpse into the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels.
#2 Saint-Cyr House (11 Ambiorix Square)
The Saint-Cyr House is a stunning example of Art Nouveau architecture. It was designed by Gustave Strauven, a Belgian architect who was a student of Victor Horta, and was completed in 1903.
The house is known for its intricate ironwork, beautiful stained glass windows, and flowing, organic lines. One of the most unique features of the Saint-Cyr House is its striking asymmetry, which was a departure from the more traditional, symmetrical designs of the time.
Today, the house is recognized as a protected monument by the Brussels-Capital Region and is considered one of the city’s most beautiful examples of Art Nouveau architecture.
#3 Villa Germaine House (24 Palmerston Avenue)
The Villa Germaine House was designed by the Belgian architect Louis Hamaide in 1902, and is known for its distinctive use of curved lines, decorative tiles, and wrought ironwork.
The house is named after Germaine Van den Bossche, the wife of its original owner, and features a beautiful facade adorned with intricate Art Nouveau details. Today, the Villa Germaine House is recognized as a protected monument by the Brussels-Capital Region and is a popular destination for architecture enthusiasts visiting Brussels.
#4 Hotel Van Eetvelde (4 Palmerston Avenue)
The Hotel Van Eetvelde was designed by Victor Horta and was completed in 1898. The house is known for its intricate ironwork, decorative tiles, and flowing, organic lines. One of the most unique features of the Hotel Van Eetvelde is its use of innovative design elements, such as a central light well that floods the interior with natural light.
Today, the house is recognized as a protected monument by the Brussels-Capital Region and is open to the public for tours. It is considered one of the most important examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Brussels, and a must-see for architecture enthusiasts.
#5 Gutenberg Square and Marie Louise Square
Gutenberg and Marie Louise Squares in Brussels are two public spaces that feature several beautiful examples of Art Nouveau architecture, although the specific buildings are not always named.
The area is known for its decorative ironwork, organic motifs, and use of natural materials such as stone and wood. Some notable examples include the buildings at 6 and 8 Rue Lebeau, which feature intricate ironwork and decorative stonework, as well as the buildings at 13-15 Rue Ducale, which showcase beautiful stained glass windows and carved wooden details.
The squares themselves are also worth a visit, as they are surrounded by a variety of beautiful trees and plants that create a serene atmosphere in the heart of the city.
Art Nouveau Brussels Map – Loop #2 – Cinquantenaire Park to the Squares Neighbourhood
Art Nouveau Tour Brussels: Loop #3
Plug into your phone the following addresses:
- Louis Bertrand Avenue
- 266 Chaussée de Haecht
This last walking tour is a bit unique, as there are many unnamed houses along Louise Bertrand Avenue that have Art Nouveau architectural details you can admire. So slowly stroll this Avenue and watch out for houses at numbers 34, 36 and 43.
Let’s start the last Loop #3!
#1 Avenue Louis Bertrand (43 Louis Bertrand Avenue)
There are many unnamed houses on the beautiful Avenue Louis Bertrand that represent striking examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the city.
A stroll down this avenue is a must for anyone interested in experiencing the beauty and creativity of Art Nouveau.
#2 Autrique House (266 Chaussée de Haecht)
The Autrique House is a masterpiece of Art Nouveau architecture that has been restored to its former glory. Designed by Victor Horta, one of the most prominent figures of the Art Nouveau movement, this was the first townhouse he built in 1893.
Visitors to the Autrique House can marvel at the building’s elegant facade, explore its interior, and learn about the fascinating history of Art Nouveau in Brussels.
Art Nouveau Brussels Map – Loop #3 – Avenue Louis Bertrand (Schaerbeek) Neighbourhood
What was Art Nouveau called in Belgium?
Art Nouveau in Belgium was known as “Jugendstil”, which means “youth style” in German.
How Art Nouveau was invented in Brussels?
Art Nouveau was born in Brussels when artists and architects sought to break from traditional forms, drawing inspiration from nature’s organic shapes and motifs to create a new movement.
What are the characteristics of Belgian Art Nouveau?
Belgian Art Nouveau characteristics include asymmetrical facades, curved windows in organic shapes, nature-inspired motifs, ornate ironwork, stained glass, and mosaics.
When is the best time to visit Brussels?
The best time to visit Brussels is for the Brussels Art Nouveau and Art Deco (BANAD) festival where for three consecutive weekends in March select buildings are open to the public for tours.
What was the best Art Nouveau town in Europe?
The best Art Nouveau town in Europe is widely considered to be Brussels, Belgium with its numerous well-preserved buildings and influential architects.
If you LOVE EUROPEAN TRAVEL or planning a TRIP TO EUROPE, subscribe to my website! I will share my love of Europe with you, along with travel planning tips and inspiration. And, you’ll get a FREE gift for signing up – 30 Bucketlist Places in Europe! Join, and let’s be travel friends!
As a Holidaymaker
Taking a walking tour of Art Nouveau architecture is an unforgettable experience that offers a glimpse into Belgium’s rich cultural heritage. From the ornate facades of the Autrique House to the intricate details of the Victor Horta Museum, you can immerse yourself in the beauty and creativity of this iconic style.
Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply looking for a unique way to explore the city, a Brussels Art Nouveau walking tour is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a newfound appreciation for this influential movement.
If you are looking for more inspiration on what to do in Brussels, why not take a day trip to these 5 cities in Belgium?