Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Parc Cinquantanaire and the Arche de Triomphe

Close to the headquarters of The European Union, you'll find the Parc Cinquantanaire and the Arch de Triomphe that King Leopold II of Belgium erected at the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the Belgian state.

The area between the Schuman and Merode subway stations, in a densely developed city area you suddenly find a large green lung. The centerpiece of this park is this triumphant monument built by a brutal colonialist that ran what is known today as the Democratic Republic of Congo (prev. Zaire) as his personal property.

An all year retreat

This park was in my neighborhood when I lived in Brussels. My apartment block in Avenue de la Renaissance (right), is located adjacent to the park, and evey day I went to work I crossed into the park, on my way to my office in Rue de Treves.

Park Cinquantanaire is beautiful in winter, as in summer. All year the lawns are beautifully green, lined with evergreen shrubbery. During summer, large trees provide shade from the summer sun under their large canopy.

Built through a battle of power

The curved buildings on each side of the arch was commissioned by the king and built to a National Exhibition in 1880.

These two buildings house the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, an art museum Cinquantenaire Museum and AutoWorld (museum).

The Arch was meant to be the centerpiece, when the buildings were opened in 1880.

Due to an ongoing battle between the king and the Belgian Parliament it was completed much later. This as the Parliament did not want to spend money on the project. It was completed with private funding, just in time for Belgium's 75th anniversary as a state.

The Great Mosque of Brussels

The Great Mosque of Brussels is also found in the park. In 1967, King Baudouin gave a building built in 1880 to King Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, on an official visit to Belgium, so that it might be turned into a place of worship for the Muslim community of Belgium. It was inaugurated in 1978.

More Brussels stories

Brussels - the warm heart of Europe

A tale of a cat

More on the area by Park Cinquantenaire - see this map

View Brussels on Enjoy Food & Travel 2006-2009 in a larger map

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