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Discovering the secrets of Brussels’ cemeteries

Discovering the secrets of Brussels’ cemeteries

What could be more original and unusual this autumn than exploring the past and immersing in the capital’s history by visiting the cemeteries of Brussels? Veritable open air museums of funerary art where nature sometimes takes over, they are also the memory of Brussels.

As historical and artistic sites, the cemeteries of Brussels represent a cultural asset often overlooked by visitors. Yet, beyond the beautiful monuments, they are the final resting places of many leading Belgian figures who have etched their names in Brussels’ and Belgian history.

In order to keep certain unusual sites from being forgotten, several organisations have decided to develop original guided tours there. From history and funerary art to the richness of the natural environment, curious visitors will learn the exciting stories of the people buried there.

Aside from the existing guided tours available upon request, several public guided tours are conducted during the All Saints holiday period. Here’s a sneak peek…

In the footsteps and under the stones. Stories and legends of love and death… Ixelles cemetery is the dream setting for many surprising, funny, or moving stories. Our narrated stroll invites you to get to know the illustrious men and women at rest under the headstones through their life and accomplishments and to tell mischievous legends and interpret tales haunted by death in a fairytale atmosphere.

Date: Sunday, 5 November 2017. In French. Also available (NL, FR, EN) year round upon request.

The Foundry Trails: Brussels Cemetery

A visit to the cemetery provides a unique look at the work of bronze smiths, especially those from the Compagnie des Bronzes.

In fact, the quality of the Brussels Cemetery’s tombs and monuments owes a great deal to the city’s foundries and artists.

But the tour is not limited to bronze. Through the richness of its heritage, this cemetery allows visitors to get a good grasp of the evolution of statuary through the styles, techniques, and materials used. It is also a unique gateway to the exploration of Brussels history through the figures who are buried here: Charles Buls, Jean Volders, César De Paepe, Charles Albert, Henri Beyaert, etc.

Date: Saturday, 11 November 2017. In French. Also available (NL, FR, EN) year round upon request.

The Foundry Trails: Molenbeek Cemetery – parents welcome

The “Routes I bring my parents along” are offered during school holidays and conducted for children who enjoy sharing activities with their parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, or for adults who like to share with their children and grandchildren – the programme is geared toward everyone and is fun and interactive, a source of enjoyment and discovery. Once equipped to interpret the signs, children will have no trouble guessing who is buried there!

Date: Sunday, 29 October 2017. In French. Also available (NL, FR, EN) year round upon request.

All Saints Special – The notable figures of Laeken Cemetery

From Louise-Marie to Prince Alexander, Belgium’s great history can be told through its sovereigns and princes in the Royal Crypt. In the cemetery other big names who have also changed the course of history are buried: La Malibran, Michel de Ghelderode, Emile Bockstael, Marie Popelin, Joseph Poelaert, Alphonse Balat, and many more.

Visitors go off to discover the once-famous figures, now forgotten by some, who were laid to rest in this cemetery. The proximity to the Royal Crypt, the chance to be buried in the shadow of a church right next to one’s peers led to a fad of sorts among Belgian notables. Artists, architects, political figures, and officers are gathered together for eternity.

Dates: Sunday, 29 October and Wednesday 1st November 2017. In French. Also available (NL, FR, EN) year round upon request.

The funerary galleries of Laeken Cemetery

While Laeken Cemetery is well-known, its funerary galleries are much less so. This guided tour takes you though this marvellous restored site.

A tour of Laeken Cemetery is really a thrilling experience. In recent years, the funerary galleries have undergone restoration work. The result is impressive! Bockstael, Poelaert, Marie Popelin, and the Vaxelaire family are among the better known figures buried here.

Date: Saturday, 4 November 2017. In Dutch. Also available (NL, FR, EN) year round upon request.

Ixelles Cemetery with Arkadia

If there is one place in Brussels that lets one encounter some of the biggest names in
Belgian art from the 19th and 20th centuries while out for a stroll, it is indeed Ixelles Cemetery. Architects Victor Horta and Adrien Blomme have found eternal rest here among men of letters and musicians such as Charles De Coster and Eugène Ysaye. Surprisingly, some artists are buried just a few metres from their works: another way to stand the test of time…

Dates: available (NL, FR, EN) year round upon request in several languages.

Dieweg Cemetery with Arkadia

When funerary architecture combines with plant life, the result can be surprising and enchanting. This is the case with Dieweg Cemetery, one of the country’s most charming, which has been able to maintain its wild side while offering certain marvels of funerary art. Neo-gothic mausoleums, modest tombstones, or Jewish monuments, we invite you to explore one of the capital’s most romantic places.

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