The university district of Ixelles, one of the "coolest" in Europe


According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the university district of Ixelles, located near the ULB and the VUB, yet also next to the local municipal cemetery, deserves second place in its ranking of the top ten "coolest" neighbourhoods in Europe.

The Guardian made a selection of ten not-so-touristy neighbourhoods that allow visitors to "get a real sense" of Europe's great cities. The Järntorget/Långgatorna neighbourhood in Gothenburg (Sweden) was the only one to beat out the Ixelles neighbourhood in the rankings. Some of the other winners include El Cabanyal in Valencia (Spain) in 3rd place, ahead of Bonfim in Porto (Portugal) and Neukölln in Berlin (Germany).

According to the British journalist, the university district of Ixelles has the advantage of being easily accessible by public transport, without being a part of the capital's usual tourist circuit. "There are just as many older people as young professionals seeking bars and boutiques. You're as likely to find yourself talking to someone who has just arrived from Africa to open the restaurant of their dreams as you are to a 70-something-year-old bar owner."

Besides the dynamism brought by the student population--a result of the proximity of the capital's two major universities--The Guardian also lauds the See U project, a temporary initiative to occupy former gendarmerie barracks. The barracks are now home to small, sustainable businesses, including the first café in Brussels adapted to welcoming strollers, an organic market that is open every Thursday starting at 4 p.m., a cinema and a velodrome.