Sunday, 6 November 2011

Art Nouveau Walk - Brussels

Bill led the way, as outlined on the map we got from the tourist office.  I was over-whelmed by the variety of architectural styles that we encountered and so did my usual stop-to-snap and scurry-to-catch-up dance.  Except that sometimes Bill also stopped to take a photo (evidence below).

I love all sorts of interesting architecture, or so you may have noticed.

And I'm a push over for a window box or a splash of colour.

I might have missed this odd-shaped show window but I was on the hunt, which is to say that I was paying attention for a change. I'm quite an internally directed person, so I spend a lot of time not seeing anything outside, just thinking my own thoughts (it's a great way to get lost, I can tell you).

It's a frugal hobby, this, walking around looking at buildings for free; it's just the travel to foreign places that hikes the price!

Then we started to see the occasional art nouveau house.  I've just never seen anything like these, with the curvy woodwork or metal work on the doors, the round windows, the vine-like ironwork.  I'm sorry that my photos don't do them justice.  In my defense, there usually wasn't sufficient space to get the whole house in, and if there was it was usually across a very busy road.  Also, snapping the whole house meant that one couldn't always appreciate the details, even if Bill would have waited for me to do all that to-ing and fro-ing.

Oh, that's good...blame it on Bill!  Bless him.

Actually, the pickings were a bit slim and the map sent us to an area where two of the houses were on each side of a large concrete park, the main feature of which was a skate-boarding area.  I did take in the general demographics of the park users and question the statement I'd read somewhere that skate-boarding is largely a middle-class pursuit.  I think that might only apply in Britain.

But I was so enthralled with these houses and absorbed in trying to get photos, I didn't even try to stick close to Bill.  I don't know what those kids made of us.  Perhaps they were used to tourists and cameras.  I listened for any objectionable language, but decided there were advantages in being a foreigner.

I didn't feel threatened in any way at all, though I did notice that the light wasn't great.  It wasn't a place I'd care to have been after dark.  As we left, Bill and I both noticed gatherings and discussions going around parked cars and let our eyes slide past, commenting quietly amongst ourselves. 

I was sad for the houses.  Grand old ladies and gentlemen should enjoy a certain amount of respect in their old age, shouldn't they?

Then again, it could all have been in our imaginations.

It's a good job there aren't these sorts of things around Newcastle.

I don't think I'd ever be able to choose which one to buy, if I could even afford one.

Bill said he found a real estate ad for an art nouveau house in Antwerp for about 300,000 euros, but it was just the outside that was art nouveau.

The inside was very plain and modern, with any original features ripped out.

That sort of thing happened to all sorts of houses here in Britain and probably everywhere - out with the old!  In with the new!

Then we found this and I was vaguely disappointed at having already eaten lunch. 

It is a restaurant called La Porteuse Deau (The Water Carrier).

Isn't it lovely? You can see inside here.

According to this website,

The water-carrier in question, tradition tells us, was a girl who, back in the 19th century, used to provide water for the exhausted horses after they had pulled the horse-drawn tram from the centre of Brussels to the Bareel/Barrière in St-Gillis/Gilles. In 1900 they put up a statue of her in the middle of the square.

However, that website also goes on to describe, in quite complimentary terms, the food and beverage available from this neo-art nouveau.  Just goes to show, I don't even know my old from my new art nouveau.

Anyhow, by that time we'd pretty much done our dash and so we headed back towards the Central train station, near which I ran into my old friend, the Port de Hal, which I'd forgotten until I saw it again.

Apparently this is neo-gothic but I cannot find anywhere the name for the ironwork on the roof. Would you call that a crow's nest?

1 comment:

frugalscholar said...

My son was just in Brussels and urged us to go. Now I see why!