Visiting the former Continental Hotel, Brussels, Belgium: late 19th century opulence

Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Former Continental Hotel (1874), Brussels
Former Continental Hotel (1874), Brussels | Source
Map location of Brussels, Belgium
Map location of Brussels, Belgium | Source

Familiar Brussels landmark at 'place de Brouckère' / 'de Brouckèreplein'

This exceptionally opulent building in the Brussels Capital Region (French: Région de Bruxelles-Capitale ; Dutch: Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest ), Belgium, dates from 1874. Located at place de Brouckère / de Brouckèreplein , 41, the building is the former Hôtel Continental .

Some features

Its architect was Eugène Carpentier (also known for his restoration of the Collegiate church of Lobbes, Hainaut. While the style in which Architect Carpentier executed the building is eclectic, it incorporates an element of pillared neo-Classicism combined with what might be described as an almost neo-Baroque opulence. Sculpture work was undertaken by Louis Samain. The building was influenced by the style of the Paris Louvre.

The building is centrally located in the city, being at the conjunction of Boulevard Emile-Jacqmain / Emile Jacqmainlaan and Boulevard Adolphe-Max / Adolphe Maxlaan , which, south of place de Brouckère / de Brouckèreplein , become Boulevard Anspach / Anspachlaan .

Today, the building accommodates 41 apartments and 13 offices. One feature of the building which is undoubtedly prominent but hardly period-specific to its original purpose is the neon sign on its roof! (One wonders what was going on in the planning permission department of the City of Brussels, when such an incongruity was permitted!)

The place de Brouckère / de Brouckèreplein address of the building is named for Charles de Brouckère (1796-1860), Burgomaster of Brussels 1848-1860.

Brief, historical reflection

This fine building by Architect Carpentier seems to exude an almost carefree aura belonging to the Belle Epoque, when the observer may be forgiven for imagining that the architect was almost inebriate in creating a riot of overstatement. The architectural work thus belongs firmly to the period prior to World War One, the physical and normative devastations of which appeared utterly to change the way many architects went about their work in an evident commitment to variations on understated functionalism.

The building also slightly predates the the era of the Art nouveau style of Victor Horta, later responsible for many new buildings in Brussels.

Also worth seeing

Brussels has numerous visitor attractions, a few of these being the Grand' Place, the Stock Exchange building, the Royal Palace and BELvue museum, the Erasmus House museum, Anderlecht, the Atomium, and the Palace of Justice.

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How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel-Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. However, the Metro is a very convenient way of getting around Brussels — de Brouckère metro station is close by. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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