Monday, April 20, 2009

A walk through Ixelles, Brussels

The commune of Ixelles consists of several largely residential neighborhoods immediately to the southwest of Brussels' central core, which I likely would not have visisted had I not taken a walking tour of the city's extensive collection of Art Nouveau residences. Ixelles' built form owes much of its nature to the growth of the city's late 19th century bourgeoisie, which created many tranquil streets of handsome town houses built in a large variety of styles, including Art Nouveau.

Somewhat unexpectedly, the long, straight rows of 3-story houses remind me quite a bit of certain streets in Boston, just with less red brick. It also seems that Brussels suffers from a dearth of street trees, which could easily amplify the beauty of already handsome streets like these in Ixelles.

Nonetheless, the commune's crown jewel is its particularly fine park, Les Étangs d'Ixelles (the Ponds of Ixelles), which as you may have guessed, has a rather lovely pond whose banks seem particularly well-suited to afternoon picnics. Its surrounding streets form a particularly ritzy collection of large town houses and luxury apartment blocks.

Last but not least, Ixelles has one of the largest examples of Streamline Modern architecture, and certainly one of its masterpieces, la Maison de la Radio, which has housed the city's major radio and television broadcasting firms since 1938.

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