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Brussels, European capital of Art Nouveau

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Brussels, European capital of Art Nouveau-Horta

Brussels is not only the capital of European and the siege of the E.U. but declares itself, and with great pride and truth, as the capital of Art Nouveau. There is no other city in the world with such a rich heritage of this tendency, developed at the end of the 19th and beginning of 20th century, a renovating movement of architecture and decorative arts, reacting against the bourgeois and classic constraints. Brussels (-despite a lot ahs been destroyed by ruthless real estate promoters, the architectural criminals of the century I call them) has still plenty of them, scattered all over the city (there are special Art nouveau building visits tours) but the most are still to see in Exiles and of course the rue Americaine with the incomparable HORTA HOUSE.
Other works and buildings were left by architects like Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde, Ernest Blerot, Gustave Strauven and Paul Cauchie. 
It was, in fact, in the quarters located around the Avenue Louise, that the architectural movement appeared -- known elsewhere under the names Modern Style, Jugendstil, Secession, or Liberty. During its initial period, Brussels Art Nouveau was an exclusively local phenomenon. And it was Brussels Art Nouveau which influenced the Parisian artist Hector Guimard, and which gave the Viennese Otto Wagner the idea of abandoning his neo-Renaissance constructions.
The greatest of them all was VICTOR HORTA. In 1893, Victor Horta built a house intended to serve as an architectural manifesto for a new style -- the Tassel House was built for his friend Emile Tassel, Professor at the Free University of Brussels.

Inside Tassel house

Horta wanted to create a global and harmonious interior decoration, with new inspiration and which refused to copy the styles of the past, as 19th century architects had been doing. The forms that he gave to his furnishings, and the motifs that decorated his walls, were taken directly from nature. These were the sources of inspiration that were being used by the "Arts and Crafts" movement in England.
Horta revolutionized the very design of buildings by giving them a central light well, by using open floor plans, and by his use of ironwork and organic detail.
At the end of the 19th century, the Avenue Louise was Brussels' most prestigious artery -- and it was therefore understandable that Horta would build several of his most beautiful designs here. For example, the Mansion of ARMAND SOLVAY, built in 1894 at number 224, across the avenue from the rue du Chatelain. It was in the rue Americaine that Victor Horta built his private home, as well as his offices and studios. The two houses built side by side in 1898 are today being used as the Horta Museum.
The official, criminal destruction of The Maison du Peuple constructed in 1895 at the height of the Art Nouveau period (siege of the Socialist party) was performed in 1963, and although it was destroyed in, the metro station Horta in Brussels features some of the elements of ironwork from the balustrades that were in the great hall of the Maison du Peuple.
Recently, a restaurant, café in Antwerp, called “Café Horta” recuperated also some construction elements of the building and integrated them into the construction.
In my next article of this series we will visit the Herat sand some more Art Nouveau houses, magnificent pears and jewels of architecture throughout Brussels.