10 must-visit Art Nouveau houses and mansions in Brussels

01 March 2022
Entance to the Hotel Solvay

  

At the end of the 19th century, Victor Horta broke with the dominant, traditional architectural styles in Brussels, giving birth to the iconic Art Nouveau genre. Along the streets of our capital, numerous houses and mansions bear witness to the emergence and blossoming of this unprecedented style.

Horta, Hankar, Van de Velde and other great names in Brussels architecture drew their inspiration from the organic forms of nature, sometimes with a touch of Japanese inspiration. The capital’s appearance was transformed and its facades were brought to life in magnificent fashion. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, we’ve put together a top 10 of Brussels’ unmissable Art Nouveau houses and mansions!

1. Cauchie House

Built in 1905, the Cauchie House, that dates back to 1905, was named after its original owner Paul Cauchie. Aside from its superb round window, the building's facade is magnified by the presence of several large sgraffiti, which make the building stand out and are evidence of Cauchie’s decorative talent.

Booking required. Every first weekend of the month, from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00.

Front of the Cauchie House

2. The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)

The Old England building – previously a shop, but now owned by the government – is a remarkable example of Art Nouveau, with its black metal structure. Although the MIM is often considered to be only this dark metal structure, the complete construction is made up of three buildings in which no less than 1100 musical instruments are on display, with more than 8,000 in total being stored.

Booking required. Tuesday to Friday, from 9:30 to 17:00. Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 - 17:00.

Inside the Museum of Musical Instruments

3. Autrique House

Autrique House, designed by Victor Horta in 1893, is the first large town house that the great architect built, almost at the same time as he designed the Hôtel Tassel. Here too the structural and decorative innovations are characteristic of Art Nouveau.

Booking required. Wednesday to Sunday, from 12:00 to 18:00.

Interior staircase of the Maison Autrique

4. The Horta Museum

The Horta Museum is housed in two connected buildings: The architect’s house and his workshop. They are the perfect examples of the peak of Art Nouveau. Both buildings were bought by the commune of Saint-Gilles in the 60s and turned into a museum which opened in 1969.

Booking required. Tuesday to Friday, from 14:00 to 17:30. Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00 to 17:30.

5. The Max Hallet House

Buit in 1903 by Victor Horta, The Max Hallet House, on the prestigious avenue Louise, is characterised by its sober facade. This simplicity isn’t just down to the logical evolution of Art Nouveau architecture around 1900, it’s also because of the building’s original purpose, which was to be both the home and office of lawyer Max Hallet.

Visits can be booked via explore.brussels.

Interior of the Max Hallet Hotel

6. The Belgian Comic Strip Center

The Belgian Comic Strip Center, a former textiles warehouse, was designed by Victor Horta for textile merchant Charles Waucquez. Bought by the government in the 80s to save it from being demolished, it now houses a centre dedicated to Belgian comic strips.

Online booking. Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 18:00.

Entrance hall of the Belgian Comic Strip Centre

7. Tassel House

Tassel House was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. With its audacious bow-window and remarkable light wells, this building left a lasting mark on the history of architecture.

Visits can be booked via explore.brussels.

8. Foundation Frison Horta

Foundation Frison Horta sits in the middle of Rue Lebeau and was built by Victor Horta in 1894 for Georges Frison, a renowned lawyer. It is a house that showcases nature and light down to the smallest detail. There are murals, frescoes and odes to flora and fauna on every floor. Foundation Frison Horta is a cultural institution and centre for art. It acts as a cultural bridge between east and west that fosters greater understanding and appreciation of the rich cultural traditions of India in Europe.

Guided tours by appointment only. Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 to 17:30.

Sculpture inside the Frison Horta Foundation

9. Van Eetvelde House

According to Victor Horta himself, van Eetvelde House, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, was the most daring of his entire oeuvre. The man who commissioned it, politician Edmond van Eetvelde was someone who believed in modernity and architectural innovation. He gave Horta free reign to let his artistic inspiration run wild when he commissioned him to design a home for his family.

Visits can be booked via explore.brussels.

Light wells in the Van Eetvelde House

10. Solvay House

Solvay House is regarded as one of Victor Horta’s finest works, which unsurprisingly lead it to be added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2003. It was commissioned by industrialist Ernest Solvay, who gave Horta an illimited budget to complete the masterpiece. Standing on the chic avenue Louise, it is a perfect example of how the well-to-do families of 19th century bourgeoisie lived.

Booking required. Thursday and Saturday, from 10:00 to 15:40.

Top Tip!

The Art Nouveau Pass lets you discover Brussels’ Art Nouveau gems at an unbeatable price. Choose 3 sites from a list of 7 emblematic constructions, like Cauchie House, the Horta Museum, Autrique House and Solvay House.

The pass is valid 6 months, to the great delight of all architecture fans!