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Exploring unusual places in Brussels at “Iris Day in the districts”

Exploring unusual places in Brussels at “Iris Day in the districts”

Iris Day, which on this coming 6 and 7 May celebrates the 28th anniversary of the BrusselsCapital Region, will offer many free activities for young and old. Among them, the ” Iris Day in the Districts ” will provide an intimate insight into the representative parts of certain districts. This year the event, which will take place on Saturday 6 May, will showcase Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Anderlecht, Saint-Gilles and Forest.

Since last year and over the three years to come, the event will spotlight several districts grouped together by geographical area. Several locations within Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Anderlecht, Saint-Gilles and Forest will offer free visits on 6 May : gardens, painters’ studios, mosques, museums, cemeteries, etc. Giving everyone the chance to get acquainted with the hidden treasures of Brussels’ districts.

Several original activities will thus be held over the course of Saturday. All these events will be free.


This district of contrasting cityscapes and natural scenery provides seemingly limitless scope for exploration. Its showpieces are without doubt its extremely pleasing Art Deco neighbourhood, its historical centre that resonates with its thousand-year history, its seven centuries of murals that culminates today in an enormous graffiti Hall of Fame, a city abattoir offering unusual activities and products, and an out of the ordinary cemetery at the edge of a protected natural area. Its ten museums attract over a hundred thousand visitors a year and never fail to impress. At its border with Pajottenland, the shadow of Bruegel looms.


Dynamic and multicultural, Forest has a lot to offer its residents and visitors.

With its many parks and wooded areas, this district is, as its name indicates, one of the greenest parts of the Brussels-Capital Region. This is a district with a long history and an important architectural heritage (a medieval abbey and Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings). Its cultural life is intense, with shows in the Forest National arena and exhibitions at Wiels or Brass, plus Union Saint-Gilloise football matches and many directly organised events (medieval festivals, an annual market, flea markets, etc.). Lastly, it is an important economic hub, with many flourishing businesses on its territory, from simple start-ups to flagship international brands (Audi).


The Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district has nearly 96,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest municipalities in the Kingdom.
Starting out from its historic centre, testimony to its early industrialisation in the mid-19th century, we can head for the first workers’ housing developments and then along the big boulevards flanked by architecture typical of the ’60s and ’70s. Today, new, daring and contemporary architectural creations are also taking root.
The tour cannot miss out a visit to the Scheutbos, a semi-natural site precious in its biodiversity and a remnant of the district’s rural past. Another noteworthy green spot is the Château du Karreveld and its park, all recently restored.

The Molenbeek landscape is also marked by the canal, the new Belle-Vue liner and the Maritime neighbourhood that runs towards the neighbouring Tour & Taxis area of Brussels.


It is true that Saint-Gilles surprises… time and time again… Above all it is one of those rare Brussels districts that has managed to preserve a historic architecture rich in different styles, but is also, and above all, a village in which no less than 130 different nationalities co-exist.

A small, densely built-up district, Saint-Gilles lives through its neighbourhoods, each of which has its own identity. The Place Van Meenen neighbourhood, for example, dominated by the imposing Town Hall and where the buildings, mostly dating from the early 20th century, are distinguished from each other by their uniquely decorated façades. The Parvis, of course, the historic heart of the district, lives to the rhythm of its daily markets and the typical Brussels cafés that surround it. The Parvis neighbourhood also houses the top venues of Sant-Gilles culture, including the Jacques Franck cultural centre and the Maison du Peuple, symbols of a district that has always been considered a haven for artists.

Visitors can also set out to discover Saint-Gilles with friendly, enthusiastic Brussels people called Greeters. ” The story of Saint-Gilles told by the Greeters ” offers an afternoon of friendly, relaxed exploration.

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