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Palais des Beaux Arts

Palais des Beaux Arts (26)

The creation of the Palais des Beaux-Arts was the idea of the financier Henri LeBoeuf, a great music lover, who decided to contract the architect Victor Horta to build a site at which to stage artistic and cultural performances. 

Horta began constructing this building in 1923, yet did not complete it for another seven years. The reason construction took so long was that the architect was requested that the building should not block the views of the city from the Palais Royal. Horta therefore had to review his plans up to six times to make sure he fulfilled all the conditions. Eventually, the architect opted to construct part of the building underground, as you will see if you go inside. You will notice, however, if you look closely, that it is a shame the neighbouring building, which is owned by the Société Générale, does not also follow the same rules. But that is another story.  

What matters is that the Palais des Beaux-Arts has a geometrically decorated, very art deco-style facade, and on its interior houses a theatre with a capacity for 2,200 people, a concert hall and an exhibition space. You will also notice that films and documentaries are screened constantly in the foyer. This is perfectly normal, bearing in mind that it is also the site of the Musée du Cinema, which was opened in 1962. This small museum is, first and foremost, a screening room for film lovers, yet it also has an interesting archive and an exhibition of old cameras, noteworthy among which is Edison’s kinetoscope. 

The Palais des Beaux-Arts, however, is also known world-wide as the site of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Music Competition, a true international platform for young talents from the music world. But do not get the idea that it is just another Pop Idol type talent show, as this is a meeting place for promising artists from the fields of composition, singing, violin and piano. 

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