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Saint Gilles

Saint Gilles (47)

If you do not have a great deal of time to see Brussels, the district of Saint-Gilles would certainly not be on your list of essential places to visit. Although it is, in fact, one of the most discreet zones of the city, it nonetheless has some truly interesting art nouveau style buildings. 

Noteworthy among these is Hôtel Hannon, built in 1903 and restored in 1985. This is one of the city’s most spectacular buildings and a place where you can find beautiful stained glass windows and ornamental statues. However, given that the building was abandoned for a long time, it has lost much of its interesting original furniture. Inside, it currently houses a photography gallery.

Next to Hôtel Hannon, moreover, is a house called “Les Hilboux”, or “The Owls”, which was built in 1899 and features some remarkable sgraffito work that crowns the entrance door.

One of the main attractions of Saint-Gilles, however, is the Porte de Hal, the only surviving gateway of the seven there used to be in the old city walls. Although it was saved from demolition by the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, this was only because, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, it was used as a prison. In 1870, it was subject to considerable renovation work and, currently, it is home to a museum for traditional art.

Once inside, you can admire the former coach access road and the impressive hall on the first floor, remarkable for its six solid columns and the glass finish of part of the floor. 

All in all the district of Saint-Gilles is perhaps therefore worth a visit, don’t you think?

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