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Visiting the Hôtel de l'Univers, Liège, Belgium: more than 150 years of an elegant presence

Updated on April 11, 2014
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Trams in the Guillemins district, Liège, at the beginning of the 20th century.
Trams in the Guillemins district, Liège, at the beginning of the 20th century. | Source
The Hôtel de l'Univers, at the junction of rue des Guillemins and rue du Plan-Incliné, Liège.
The Hôtel de l'Univers, at the junction of rue des Guillemins and rue du Plan-Incliné, Liège. | Source
Map location of the Liège area
Map location of the Liège area | Source

Recalling the early days of rail travel in Belgium

(Please note that this short article is concerned with certain historical aspects of the hotel building in question, and does not purport to describe any of its existing services; for details of these, readers should contact the management directly.)

Call it the Univers Hôtel , as its recent sign says, or the Hôtel de l'Univers : this elegant and recently refurbished building in Liège, Belgium, has been a familiar presence among the travelling public for more than 150 years.

Records show that the structure was already built in 1850. Rail travel came early to Belgium and in the late 19th century, Liège was comparatively one of the most highly industrialized cities in the world and the certain prosperity which ensured brought huge numbers of travellers to the city's Guillemins railroad station (French: Gare des Guillemins)(1), situated nearby, from Belgium and abroad. There, at the junction of rue des Guillemins and rue du Plan-Incliné , the Univers has stood providing a conspicuous welcome to strangers arriving in the city.

The design of the building is such that it forms the corner property at the end of both rue des Guillemins and rue du Plan-Incliné but its main frontage, where the entrance is situated, is set at an angle from each of these streets. Stylistically this mid-19th century building exudes elements of a restrained neo-Classicism, particularly at its small pediment at the main frontage gable.

I have supplied two photos showing the Hotel: the main one, above, dates from the beginning of the 20th century, and depicts the Hotel's familiar, angled frontage to the left of the picture; this frontage can also be seen in the contemporary photo, also supplied. In the older photo, the words Hôtel de l'Univers can be seen affixed to the building.

January 23, 2013

Note

(1) A new building for the railroad station has been erected in recent years, necessitating also a change in the lay-out some of the neighbouring streets.

Also worth seeing

In Liège itself, visitor attractions include many examples of ecclesiastical architecture; the Perron steps; the former Prince-Bishops' Palace; the Fragnée Bridge; the Zénobe Gramme Monument; the Bueren Mountain and many others.

...

How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York (JFK) to Brussels Airport, where car hire is available (distance from Brussels Airport to Liège : 94 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company SNCB maintains a service from Brussels to Liège . Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

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

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