Did you know there’s a hidden baroque building in Brussels?
Picture this: it’s a pleasant, sunny day in Brussels and you’re strolling through the city centre, going wherever your feet take you. Your leisurely pace brings you to the Dansaert neighbourhood, to Rue de Flandre, and you walk into number 46. There’s a long hallway. You decide to see where it leads. Finally, you reach a courtyard, and there it is: La Bellone.
A building within a building? Belgium has many precious gems hidden in all kinds of nooks and crannies, and this is no exception. The beautiful façade dates to the end of the 17th century, at the hand of architect Jean Cosyn.
La Bellone gets its name from Bellona, an Ancient Roman goddess of war depicted front and centre on the façade, which also includes the heads of four Roman emperors. It also depicts the Battle of Zenta, an important victory for Prince Eugene of Savoie. Why, you wonder? La Bellone was in fact commissioned by his mother, Olimpia Mancini, right near the Augustinian monastery where she was exiled after being expulsed from the court of the Sun King.
The building is used for much more peaceful ends now, as the scene for all sorts of artistic expression and theatre plays. If you’re curious, you can see what’s happening on their website, along with more practical information.
If the style of La Bellone’s façade seems familiar, that’s because Cosyn is also likely the architect of the bakers’ guild house on Brussels’ beautiful Grand’Place. That building is now home to Le Roy d’Espagne, a well-known café. Cosyn is also said to have been behind the neighbouring Maison de la Brouette.
What are some of your favourite hidden gems in Belgium? Let us know!