Walking through an architectural playgarden
Going back to Belle Epoque
At the end of the 19th century, due to the enormous growth of population, the old country mansion of Zurenborg in Berchem, is turned into a new living district. It shows an interesting combination of neo-classical city dwellings and a choice of styles that were popular at the time, among them Art Nouveau.
The most spectacular views one gets along Cogels-Osylei, that’s why the whole district is often referred to by means of this name. It offers a chain of palaces, one even more fascinating than the other. On the central roundabout, the Chambord castle is not that far away. At the moment that Minister Van Mechelen protected 170 buildings in the district, Berchem on the spot contained more protected monuments than the city of Brussels.
So certainly worth a closer look.
Highlights of the walk
- Cogels-Osylei and roundabout
- Waterloostraat and Transvaalstraat
Sauces available for this walk
If you wish, you can, without extra charges, have the walk brought to taste with a sauce, through which a particular theme is put in the spotlight.
You will find a description of the sauces available underneath. Of course, it is up to you to opt for a walk without an extra spotlight.
A story in stone
There’ll be no problem discovering gems of Art Nouveau in this district. Moreover: most of the houses have a charming name which is represented in the façade: Quinten Metsys, the Battle of Waterloo, the Four Seasons, les Mouettes, Scaldis, … but that’s not all. The architects often were asked to design a number of neighbouring houses has a single architectural project. That has yielded ensembles like ‘The Time’ with ‘morning, day, evening, night and Time’, or something like ‘the Star, the Sun and the Moon’.
Present and past
How did this housing project start? Why can we find so many Art Nouveau houses in the district? Why did they build the largest depot for public transport right here? What does the name Zurenborg mean? What are the plans for this district, so close to the Antwerp Ringway now that there are plans of covering the Ringway?
Let’s make the district come alive. It won’t surprise you that not only at the onset of the neighbourhood artists liked living here. Also when the district seemed to have fallen in disgrace, in the 70’s of last century, artists still favoured the environment. Herman de Coninck, one of the most important poets of the second half of last century, used to live here. His widow still does.
Streetnames provide a story of themselves: Waterloo, General Capiaumont and General Van Merlen. So do the housenames: Quinten Metsys, Jan Breydel and Pieter De Coninck. They catapult us back in time. And as a final proof of life for the district there’s the local newspaper Gazet van Zurenborg.
Not so far from Zurenborg in recent years a new district developed on the grounds, and partly in the building that housed the military hospital. The project is called Green Quarter and provides a combinations of new housing and the restauration and restructuring historical buildings.
A La Carte
Would you like more information? Do you want to eat something with the group before or after the tour?
We’d gladly work out a suggestion for you.