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See Brussels heritage in colour this weekend

16:07 18/09/2020

Nearly 100 of the Belgian capital’s best heritage addresses, from the ADAM Design Museum to restaurant Vincent, in almost all of its 19 communes, will be opening their doors to the public on 19 and 20 September.

The heritage days are a highlight of Brussels’ cultural events calendar, bringing thousands of visitors from Brussels, Wallonia, Flanders and further afield, says  Urban Brussels’ head Bety Waknine.

This year the special theme is colour, “which can be found everywhere in Brussels: be it inside buildings, on their facades or in public spaces,” Waknine writes in the event catalogue introduction, even in public transport like metro art. “Whether it is inside (including furniture), on facades or in open areas, it injects light and life into our everyday surroundings,” says the event's new organiser.  

Much of this selection includes cafes like the Cirio or Greenwich or churches like the reinforced concrete Saint-Augustin (Forest) or Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Molenbeek), which are habitually open to the public. Other buildings, like the Art Nouveau gem, the Maison de Saint Cyr, Square Ambiorix or sumptuous Henri Vandevelde-designed Bibliotheque Solvay are usually off-limits.

Moreover, a few sites, for example the former Rio cinema in Laeken or neogothic masterpiece Maison Campioni-Balasse in Schaerbeek are open for the first time. Other highlights include the Herge mural in Saint-Boniface school, Ixelles and stunning ‘steamliner’ 1930s Modernist SASASA art school, Schaerbeek.

And it is not just architecture. You can take part in guided tours on foot, bicycle or bus, view exhibitions, listen to stories or attend creative workshops. Brussels’ 32nd heritage festival also features family activities like quizzes and treasure hunts.

The only catch of this edition is that, under coronavirus rules, pre-booking is essential, even just to look at a building (masks are obligatory) and visitor numbers are limited. Many visits and tours are likely to be fully booked, but it is still worth dropping by to see if there is a space, one of the weekend’s guides told The Bulletin.

As is customary, the Sunday of Brussels’ 2020 Heritage Days coincides with the city’s car-free day. Again, given Covid-19 restrictions, this will be a smaller-scale and locally-based - but just as entertaining - affair.

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