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Visiting Place Princesse Elisabeth / Prinses Elisabethplein, Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek, Belgium: majestic convergence

Updated on September 22, 2014
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek
Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek | Source
Princess Elizabeth Avenue, Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek
Princess Elizabeth Avenue, Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek | Source
Colonel Picquart Avenue, Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek
Colonel Picquart Avenue, Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek | Source
Emile Zola Avenue, Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek
Emile Zola Avenue, Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek | Source
Map location of Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek station, Brussels
Map location of Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek station, Brussels | Source

A sedate hub in Brussels Region

In Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek (1), Belgium, within the Brussels Capital region (French: Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; Dutch: Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest) the Square known as Place Princesse Elisabeth / Princes Elisabethplein is a hub where many roads converge.

The Square is named for Elizabeth of Bavaria (1876-1965), Queen of the Belgians, consort to King Albert I of the Belgians (1875-1934).

So in the light of this, the inevitable question arises: if Elizabeth was Queen consort, why then is she referred to as 'Princess' in the Square's name?

This is certainly a valid question, and the answer to it is that, in Belgium and The Netherlands especially, the consorts of deceased monarchs and sometimes even abdicated monarchs themselves — a not unusual contingency — are usually referred to officially as 'Prince' or 'Princess' rather than by their former reigning titles, or those derived from their former status of monarchical consort.

The shape of the Square is actually semi-elliptical. In terms of urban planning and civil engineering, it is a considerable masterpiece in that several avenues converge on it. I have supplied a number of photos (right) which show the Square in the distance, being approached from various angles. In all, ... roads converge on Place Princesse Elisabeth / Princes Elisabethplein . One of these is also named for former Princess Elizabeth of Bavaria: Avenue Princesse Elisabeth / Prinses Elisabethlaan. Other avenues are: Avenue Monplaisir / Monplaisirlaan; Avenue Georges Rodenbach / Georges Rodenbachlaan; Avenue Colonel Picquart / Kolonel Picquartlaan; Avenue Huart Hamoir / Huart Hamoirlaan; and Avenue Emile Zola / Emile Zolalaan. Several of these avenues would be mainly residential in character, with much of the housing stock dating from the early 20th century.

Described elsewhere, the railroad station of Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek is located at the Square; the building is shown in the main photo (above) behind trees at Place Princesse Elisabeth / Princes Elisabethplein.

February 23, 2013

Notes

(1) The spelling of place-names in Brussels is strictly bilingual in French and Dutch.

(2) Elizabeth of Bavaria survived King Albert I of the Belgians by over 30 years, and in her later life was noted for her continuing patronage of many causes, including the arts — especially music —, advances in medicine and international relations.

Also worth seeing

In Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek, the 'Train World' railroad museum is situated at the railroad station; the neo-Renaissance town hall dates from 1887.

In other areas of Brussels, outstanding sights include the Grand' Place , the Royal Palace, the Palace of Justice, St. Michael's Cathedral, the Erasmus House museum, Anderlecht, and many others.

...

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 streetcar and Metro is a very convenient way of getting around Brussels. Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek railroad station is on the main line between Brussels Airport and Bruxelles-Nord / Brussel-Noord railroad station; streetcar 92 stops at Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek railroad station. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

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

For your visit, these items may be of interest

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