|BELGIË / BELGIQUE / BELGIEN||BELGIUM|
The City of Brussels is the largest municipality of the Brussels-Capital Region, and the official capital of Belgium. The towns of Haren, Laeken and Neder-Over-Heembeek to the north, and Avenue Louise and the Bois de la Cambre park to the south, are included. As of 2006, the City of Brussels had a total population of 144,784. The Brussels Capital Region is the largest urban area in Belgium, comprising 19 municipalities, including the municipality of the City of Brussels, which is the de jure capital of Belgium, in addition to the seat of the French Community of Belgium and of the Flemish Community. The metropolitan area has a population of over 1.8 million, making it the largest in Belgium.
The most common theory for the toponymy of Brussels is that it derives from the Old Dutch Broeksel or other spelling variants, which means marsh (broek) and home (sel) or "home in the marsh". The origin of the settlement that was to become Brussels lies in Saint Gaugericus' construction of a chapel on an island in the river Senne around 580. Saint Vindicianus, the bishop of Cambrai made the first recorded reference to the place Brosella in 695 when it was still a hamlet. The official founding of Brussels is usually situated around 979, when Duke Charles of Lower Lotharingia transferred the relics of Saint Gudula from Moorsel to the Saint Gaugericus chapel. Charles would construct the first permanent fortification in the city, doing so on that same island. Because of its location on the shores of the Senne on an important trade route between Bruges and Ghent, and Cologne, Brussels grew quite quickly; it became a commercial centre that rapidly extended towards the upper town where there was a smaller risk of floods. As it grew to a population of around 30,000, the surrounding marshes were drained to allow for further expansion. The Counts of Leuven became Dukes of Brabant at about this time (1183/1184). In the 15th century Brabant lost its independence, but Brussels became the Princely Capital of the prosperous Low Countries, and flourished.
In 1516 Charles V, who had been heir of the Low Countries since 1506, was declared King of Spain in St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral in Brussels. Upon the death of his grandfather, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, Charles became the new archduke of the Habsburg Empire and thus the Holy Roman Emperor of the Empire "on which the sun does not set". It was in the Palace complex at Coudenberg that Charles V abdicated in 1555. In 1695, King Louis XIV of France sent troops to bombard Brussels with artillery. Together with the resulting fire, it was the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels. The Grand'Place was destroyed, along with 4000 buildings, a third of those in the city. The reconstruction of the city centre, effected during subsequent years, profoundly changed the appearance of the city and left numerous traces still visible today. The city was captured by France in 1746 during the War of the Austrian Succession but was handed back to Austria three years later. Brussels remained with Austria until 1795, when the Southern Netherlands was captured and annexed by France. Brussels became the capital of the département de la Dyle. It remained a part of France until 1815, when it joined the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The former Dyle department became the province of South Brabant, with Brussels as its capital.
In 1830, the Belgian revolution took place in Brussels after a performance of Auber's opera La Muette de Portici at the
La Monnaie theatre. Brussels became the capital and seat of government of the new nation. South Brabant was renamed simply Brabant, with Brussels as its capital. On 21 July 1831,
Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians, ascended the throne, undertaking the destruction of the city walls and the construction of many buildings.
Throughout this time, Brussels remained mostly a Dutch-speaking city, though until 1921 French was the sole language of administration. However, in 1921, Belgium was formally split
into three language regions—Dutch-speaking Flanders, French-speaking Wallonia and bilingual Brussels. The Brussels-Capital Region was formed on 18 June 1989 after a constitutional
reform in 1988. It has bilingual status and it is one of the three federal regions of Belgium, along with Flanders and Wallonia.
In 2000, Brussels was one of the European Cities of Culture together with Avignon, Bergen, Bologna, Helsinki, Kraków,
Prague, Reykjavik and Santiago de Compostela (see list of other
European Capitals of Culture depicted on glasses of this collection).
The Cathédrale Saints-Michel-et-Gudule [left, no. 3992] is situated on the Parvis Sainte-Gudule/Sinter-Goedelevoorplein, east of Boulevard de l'Impératrice/Keizerinlaan. It is dedicated to St. Michael and St. Gudula, the patron saints of the City of Brussels, and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Brabantine Gothic architecture. The church's construction began in the 11th century and was largely complete by the 16th, though its interior was frequently modified in the following centuries. The church was given cathedral status in 1962 and has since been the co-cathedral of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, together with St. Rumbold's Cathedral in Mechelen — accordingly, the picture on the glass is labeled l'Église Ste. Gudule. A chapel dedicated to Saint Michael was probably built on the Treurenberg hill as early as the 9th century. In the 11th century, it was replaced by a Romanesque church. In 1047, the relics of the martyr Saint Gudula were transfered to his place from another church in Brussels. Two round towers were added in the 13th century. The present church in Brabantine Gothic was started in 1226. The choir was finished in 1276, the nave and transept date from the 14th and 16th centuries. It took about 300 years to complete the entire church. The main structure was finalised only prior to 1519. Some chapels were added in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1579, the collegiate church was pillaged and wrecked by the Protestant Geuzen ("Beggars"), and Saint Gudula's relics were disinterred and scattered. The church was designated a historic monument in 1936.
The Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville) [near left, no. 3992] is located on the Grand'Place/Grote Markt opposite the Maison di Roi (see below). It is the only remaining medieval building of the Grand'Place and is considered a masterpiece of civil Gothic architecture and more particularly of Brabantine Gothic. The oldest part of the present Town Hall is its east wing (to the left when facing the front). This wing, together with a shorter tower, was built between 1401 and 1421. A second, somewhat shorter wing was built on to the existing structure in 1444–1449. The façade is decorated with numerous statues representing nobles, saints, and allegorical figures. The present sculptures are reproductions; the older ones are in the city museum in the Maison du Roi. The 96-metre-high tower in Brabantine Gothic style was completed by 1455. At its summit, stands a 5-metre-tall gilt metal statue of Saint Michael, the patron saint of Brussels, slaying a dragon or demon. The tower, its front archway and the main building's facade are conspicuously off-centre relative to one another. According to a legend, the architect of the building, upon discovering this "error", leapt to his death from the tower. More likely, the asymmetry of the Town Hall was an accepted consequence of the scattered construction history and space constraints. The Town Hall accommodated not only the municipal authorities of the city, but also the States of Brabant until 1795. In 1830, a provisional government assembled there during the Belgian Revolution, which provoked the separation of the Southern Netherlands from the Northern Netherlands, resulting in the formation of Belgium as it is known presently. The Town Hall has been designated a historic monument since 1936. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998 as part of the registration of the Grand'Place. (see also list of other UNESCO heritage sites depicted on glasses of this collection)
The Maison du Roi [near left, no. 3954] was originally built in 1504–1536 for the Dukes of Brabant in Flamboyant Gothic style to house the administrative services of the duchy. The location on the south side of the Grand'Place/Grote Markt, in place of the first cloth and bread markets which were no longer in use, was chosen as a counterpart of Brussel's Town Hall that had been created on the opposite side in 1405–1455. It was first called the 'Duke's House' (Middle Dutch: 's Hertogenhuys), but when Charles V, Duke of Brabant since 1506, was crowned King of Spain in 1516, it became known as the King's House' (Middle Dutch: 's Conincxhuys). It is currently known as the Maison du Roi ('King's House') in French, although no king has ever lived there, though in Dutch it continues to be called the Broodhuis ('Bread hall'), after the market whose place it took. The King's House was rebuilt after suffering extensive damage from the bombardment of Brussels by French troops in 1695. A second restoration followed in 1767. It was reconstructed once again in its current neo-Gothic form by architect Victor Jamaer in 1868. The current building, whose interior was renovated in 1985, has housed the Brussels City Museum since 1887. In 1936, the building was designated a historic site at the same time as the Town Hall, and in 1998 a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the rest of the Grand'Place. (See also list of UNESCO Heritage sites depicted in this collection.)
The Brussels Stock Exchange (Bourse) [near left, no. 2719]
was built by the architect Léon-Pierre Suys, as part of his proposal for covering of the river Senne, which in the late 19th century had
become a health hazard. The building to become the centre of the rapidly expanding business sector. It was to be located on the former butter market
(itself situated on the ruins of the former Récollets Franciscan convent) on the newly created Anspach Boulevard (then called Central Boulevard).
The building was erected from 1868 to 1873, and mixes elements of the Neo-Renaissance and Second Empire architectural styles. It has an abundance of
ornaments and sculptures, created by famous artists, including the French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse and his then-assistant Auguste Rodin.