In Belgium, Art Nouveau was the titular architectural movement during the turn of the century. With Victor Horta as its main visual genius, the movement flourished all over the capital. To describe it in a non-complicated way, think asymmetrical lines. Undulating lines that take forms of stalks or tendrils or anything organic. That’s what comes to my mind when I think of this movement; grace, ornament and elegance.

Art Nouveau

The biggest name in Belgian architecture has to be Victor Horta. While others only flirted with the idea of Art Nouveau, he gave it a new voice. If you ask me, he made Brussels a more beautiful place even if some of his masterworks are now missing. That’s a whole other subject, the so-called Brusselization and honestly, it’s something that makes me angry as an architecture lover. So I’ll skip it for now and instead introduce you to some beautiful architectural edifices.

Art Nouveau

HORTA MUSEUM

Rue Américaine 25, 1060 Bruxelles

This museum is housed in the actual home and studio of Victor Horta that he himself designed. I cannot tell you how sad I was when I heard that taking photos inside the house was forbidden. Because the house is gorgeous! It is four floors of the most beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. So if you’re curious, you can check out the gallery from their official website.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

HANNON HOUSE

Avenue de la Jonction 1, 1060 Saint-Gilles

I remember seeing this house every day from the tram while trying to reach the centre of the city. Built in 1902 by Jules Brunfaut, this house is now used to promote creative photography. It’s so eye-catching with its stained glass windows, reliefs, and that bay window! I wasn’t aware of the scope of my love for bay windows until I moved to Brussels. Now I look at them adoringly in every Belgian city!
Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

LES HIBOUX HOUSE

Avenue Brugmann 55, 1060 Bruxelles

Bearing its name after two owls depicted above the doorway, you can find this house right next to Hannon house. I managed to miss it and then see it among all the photos I was editing the day after. I did stop by it knowingly next week when I revisited Brussels. Yes, this blog required two visits to Brussels and I was still exhausted.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

MAISON SAINT-CYR

Ambiorixsquare 11, 1000 Bruxelles

The perfect answer to the question, ‘how to make a narrow building stand out among endless rows of houses’. With lavish Art Nouveau elements, all packed in 4 meters of the facade, it’s hard to miss this one. It is the work of Gustave Strauven and over time it even got sorted into Art Nouveau baroque. A unique example of architecture because of the way it combines its small size and ornate decoration.

Art Nouveau

HOTEL VAN EETVELDE

Avenue Palmerston 4, 1000 Bruxelles

Not far from Maison Saint-Cyr, you can find Hotel van Eetvelde, another one of Horta’s works. I found it next to a building with a Croatian flag, which made me laugh because what are the chances? At first sight, it might seem less noticeable than its nearby neighbour but this building has one gorgeous interior. And how I wish I could have seen it! Because at the heart of it is a beautiful Art Nouveau staircase circling around a winter garden.

Art Nouveau

CIAMBERLANI HOUSE

Rue Defacqz 48, 1050 Bruxelles

In between taking photos here, someone walked past me and noticed me being busy with my camera. That made him notice the building and he looked at it with interest. It’s nice to think that me taking photos encouraged him to pay attention to this house. It’s pretty hard to miss it anyway, with these remarkable paintings on the facade. The responsible painter is the one after whom the house bears its name, Albert Ciamberlani.

Art Nouveau

ONE HONORABLE MENTION

Rue Royale 13, 1000 Bruxelles

Designed by Paul Hankar in 1896, Chemiserie Niguet was a store that sold shirts and nowadays it is a floral shop called Daniël Ost. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more impressive shop-front, and I think you’ll agree with me when you see this old postcard of it. Architectural beauty incarnated.
Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

SOME LAST THOUGHTS

If you should ask me what is it that made me fall for Brussels in the first place, without a doubt, I would say Art Nouveau.
I always picture walking past these buildings during cold autumn evenings. And I get all nostalgic because that’s how I’ll always remember Brussels and its Art Nouveau architecture.
This map barely covers examples of Art Nouveau in Brussels but these are some of the best-known houses and a few of my favorites. Who knows, maybe one day after lots of exploring and tracking down, I can map down all of them.

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