National Basilica of the Sacred Heart (fully booked)
The plans to build a place of worship on this spot were instigated by King Leopold II, who wanted Brussels to have a church that would surpass the similarly named Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (‘Basilica of the Sacred Heart’) in Paris. Although the foundation stone was laid in 1905, the basilica was much later designed, by Ghent-based architect Albert Van Huffel, who won the 1920 architectural competition. His brief was to draw up plans for a church for 3,000 to 4,000 people with ten chapels, one for each of Belgium’s provinces. A showcase of religious Art Deco, the basilica has a dome 30 metres in diameter and rising to a height of almost 90 metres, while its front towers are 65 metres high. The vast interior features a decor combining a range of materials including Burgundy stone, Flemish brick, and terracotta moulded into hollow blocks, glazed and kiln-fired. The basilica has long been the backdrop for national events. It was also where Pope John Paul II, on his visit to Belgium in 1995, beatified Father Damien, a priest who cared for victims of leprosy. Today, this Brussels Art Deco masterpiece is a magnet for worshippers and tourists alike.
Guided tours: Sun. at 13:30, 14:30 and 15:30 (in French); 13:00, 14:00 and 15:00 (in Dutch).
Sun. only, 13:00 to 18:00
Parvis de la Basilique/Basiliekvoorplein 1, Koekelberg
By reservation only
Accessible with assistance