Walking Tour

Art Nouveau and the Belle Époque in the streets of Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis


How did the emergence of Art Nouveau fit in with the Belle Époque?

This was a period marked by industrial inventions, technical progress and innovative artistic movements. At the same time, Belgium now ranked as Europe's second most powerful country, giving rise to new industrial and commercial fortunes and a prosperous middle class, who turned to audacious architects and artists to design mould-breaking homes and interiors for them.

Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis began to urbanise during the Belle Époque, at a time when Art Nouveau was flourishing, in particular as a result of façade design competitions. Through ornamentation, exterior decoration, sgraffito and ceramics, façades also conveyed a message, such as the return to nature, often personified by female figures. Meanwhile, women, whether middle or working class, had virtually no rights in society at this time.

This tour will explore these themes in the municipality of Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis, which is still home to many Art Nouveau buildings – bringing history to life through architecture.

In cooperation with 91e Parallèle.

Practical information

Sat. & Sun. at 10:00 (French) (duration: 1 hour 30 minutes)

Starting point: Horta premetro station, Chaussée de Waterloo/Waterloosesteenweg – Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis

Advance booking required. Up to 20 people per tour.