The 1832 neoclassical façade of no. 79 Rue de Laeken/Lakensestraat gives no hint of the astonishing sight that lies beyond: three Egyptian-style temples occupying the rear part of the building. Designed by architect Paul Bonduelle, they were built between 1909 and 1910 for the Masonic lodge Les Vrais Amis de l’Union et du Progrès Réunis (The True Friends of Union and Progress Reunited).
In 1956, Les Amis Philanthropes (The Philanthropic Friends) – another Brussels lodge, founded in 1798 – left the temple it had built in Rue du Persil/Peterseliestraat in 1879 to be part of the expansion of the Rue de Laeken/Lakensestraat temples.
The entrance hall features portraits of several Venerable Masters of Les Amis Philanthropes painted by Freemason artists from the same studio. They include engineer Jean-Baptiste Charbo (by Edmond Lambrichs), lawyers Optat Scailquin (by Georges Génisson) and Eugène Robert (by Isidore Verheyden), ULB professor of history and literature Jules Tarlier (by Georges Génisson) and teacher Alexis Sluys (by Eugène Broerman). Further on, the English Small Temple, the Pierre Van Humbeek Middle Temple and the Henri La Fontaine Grand Temple (the largest in Europe) share the same polychrome decor of large concave moulded cornices, pilasters with Hathoric capitals, rearing cobras, winged solar discs, double-headed eagles and Masonic instruments. While the Small Temple has an intimate feel, with its fabric-covered walls and ceiling depicting the heavens, the two larger temples impress the onlooker with their papyriform columns and grand scale. Below the ceiling, the architrave is punctuated by a frieze of rams. Stucco, woodwork and marble complete the decoration, which illustrates the tremendous appeal that Egypt held for the Masonic lodge. This trend influenced funerary art as well as various official buildings that were adorned with sphinxes and obelisks. Finally, the Blue Temple, designed by architect Frans De Brucq, will delight anyone with a taste for bright and fantastical decor. This includes a gigantic expressionist mural depicting the tumult of the passions. (Listed – 08/08/1988)
Guided tours will take place when there are enough people to form a group.
Sun. only, 10:00 to 18:00
Rue de Laeken/Lakensestraat 79, Brussels
Advance booking not required. 15 people admitted at a time