top of page

A day out in the Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels.

Updated: Mar 26


Author: Barry Pickard

The Parc du Cinquantenaire is a large urban park within the European Quarter in Brussels. As well as offering a peaceful respite to the bustle of working life in this busy district, the park offers the traveller interesting museums and excellent architecture. When we visited, we found that we were able to spend a full day checking out all of its attractions.

The eastern part of the park is dominated by the U-shaped complex which was commissioned for the 1880 National Exhibition, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Belgian Independence. The monumental architecture is very impressive and non-more so than the Triumphal Arch, which was erected in 1905.

Triumphal Arch, Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels
Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels
Triumphal Arch, Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels

The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History

Our first stop was the building on the northern side, which houses The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History. This military museum opened in 1923 and its collections cover ten centuries of military history, from medieval armours to present-day armoured vehicles and airplanes, including the recent addition of a F-16 Fighting Falcon.

We took a couple of hours to walk round, but any military enthusiast could spend far longer. Our favourite part was the aviation section, where you can get up close to many iconic aircraft.

The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, Brussels
The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, Brussels
The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, Brussels
The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, Brussels

A somewhat hidden feature of the museum is the roof terrace. It is well worth seeking this out, since you get breath-taking views of the park and European Quarter.

Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels
Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels
Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels

Autoworld

Directly across from the military museum is Autoworld – a total delight for anyone interested in automobiles. The museum is based on the Mahy Collection and has a permanent display of more than 250 vehicles. However, the entire collection actually amounts to around 1,000 vehicles.

If you are enjoying this post, remember and subscribe to my mailing list to receive my latest blog posts.

Autoworld, Brussels
Autoworld, Brussels
Autoworld, Brussels

Autoworld displays some of the earliest cars all the way through to modern classics in the making. There are special sections on sports cars, automobiles of the Belgian Royal Family and micro / bubble cars. Interestingly, the collection also focuses on Belgian makes, such as Minerva, Germain, FN, Imperia, Fondu, Vivinus, Nagant, Belga-Rise and Miesse, all car manufacturers that we had never actually heard of.

Autoworld, Brussels
Autoworld, Brussels
Autoworld, Brussels

The Art and History Museum

Around the corner from Autoworld resides The Art and History Museum. This museum consists of several parts, which include a national collection of artefacts from prehistory to the Merovingian period (751AD), and a collection of artefacts from the antiquity of the Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Also on display are artefacts from non-European civilisations, such as China, Japan, Korea, pre-Columbian America and the Islamic world.

The Art and History Museum, Brussels
The Art and History Museum, Brussels
The Art and History Museum, Brussels

The big draw for us, however, was the Horta exhibition which was being displayed for a number of months during 2018. The museum had painstakingly recreated the interior of the Wolfers Frères jewellery shop, with is stunning mahogany display cases. During its most successful period Wolfers Frères had commissioned the Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta to design their new Brussels store in 1912. To top it all off, the exhibition has filled the display cases with beautiful Art Nouveau jewellery.

Horta Wolfers Exhibition, The Art and History Museum, Brussels
Horta Wolfers Exhibition, The Art and History Museum, Brussels
Horta Wolfers Exhibition, The Art and History Museum, Brussels

The Parc du Cinquantenaire

After checking out the museums, it was now time to breathe in the fresh air and relax in the park. We walked from the National Exhibition buildings down the full length of the park. In the north-wester corner of the park, we found the Great Mosque of Brussels. It is the oldest mosque in Brussels and is the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium. Also, next door to the mosque, is the alluringly named Temple of Human Passions, which is also known as the Pavillon Horta-Lambeaux.

If you are enjoying this post, remember and subscribe to my mailing list to receive my latest blog posts.

Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels

The Pavillon Horta-Lambeaux

This building is a neoclassical pavilion built by Victor Horta in 1896 in the form of a Greek temple. Although classical in appearance at first sight, the building does not have a single straight line. The design by the young Horta shows his first steps along his journey to developing his famous Art Nouveau style. The pavilion was built to house Jef Lambeaux’s large marble relief called ‘Human Passions’. The temple has quite a restricted set of opening times, so unfortunately, we were unable to enter, so we will have to put it on our bucket list for our next visit!

The Pavillon Horta-Lambeaux, Brussels

Related Blog Posts

If you are interested in finding out more about the fascinating cities of Belgium, please view the Tailor-Made Itineraries posts below:

Comment below and let me know what was your favourite attraction in the Parc du Cinquantenaire.

Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these attractions appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the wonderful sights of the Parc du Cinquantenaire, or indeed, a general tour of Brussels itself.

Tailor-Made Itineraries posts every two weeks, and you can subscribe to the latest blog and newsletter here. Until then, happy reading and safe travels.

Barry

Tailor-Made Itineraries creates one-of-a-kind bespoke self-guided travel itineraries for adventurous and curious travellers.

These self-guided tours deliver a personalised and exciting holiday experience that takes the effort out of trip planning.


173 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page