From a quaint beer bar to traffic-sensitive junction: the Leonard crossroads!

02/05/2024

Eight kilometers southeast of Brussels, where the E411 highway intersects with the Ring Road (R0), lies the dreaded Leonard crossroads. During both morning and evening rush hours, thousands of commuters must navigate this notorious junction, nestled almost in the heart of Brussels' greenest lung.

Since 1726, on the cobblestones of the "Tervurensesteenweg," alongside the chirping of birds, the only sound heard was the trotting of horses belonging to timber merchants. They hauled their cargo from the Sonian Forest to their sawmills in Ixelles and Etterbeek. Between 1831 and 1836, a road from Waterloo intersected the existing road. Four unnamed traffic arms extended in a cross shape. The future crossroads of Quatre Bras, now known as the Leonard crossroads, was born. As for the current Quatre Bras crossroads, it lies a kilometer north on the Ring Road (R0).

In 1884, farmer Leonard Boon from the nearby village of Jezus-Eik set up a wooden drinks cart with a few benches and chairs at the first of the Quatre Bras, unabashedly conducting his illegal business. Beer flowed freely. His clientele affectionately dubbed his bar "Chez Leonard." One day, none other than the heir to the throne, Prince Baudouin, Count of Flanders, got lost during a stroll, and a helpful Leonard guided this nephew of King Leopold II back on track. The proprietor felt truly invincible. But Prince Baudouin tragically passed away in 1891 at the age of 21 from pneumonia! His younger brother, Albert I, ascended as the new pretender to the throne, and Leonard was asked to relocate to a perfectly legal drinking establishment a few hundred meters away on the Waversesteenweg, the former Tervurensesteenweg, until his death in 1912.

The next time you face the Leonard crossroads, take a moment to reflect on its ambitious and resolute founder.