Monday, December 28, 2009

Avenue Louise

MOST VISITORS to Brussels travelling by car will come across this busy thoroughfare, its various underpasses constructed in the 1950s and 1960s to link up the city centre with its suburbs. In fact, the avenue was constructed in 1864 to join the centre with the suburb of Ixelles. However, the north end of the avenue retains a chic atmosphere; by the Porte de Namur, fans of designer labels can indulge themselves in Gucci and Versace, as well as investigating the less expensive but no less chic boutiques. The avenue also has its architectural treasures. The Hôtel Solvay at No. 224 was built by Victor Horta in 1894 for the industrialist Solvay family. Its ornate doorway, columns and balconies are a fine example of Art Nouveau style. The house is still a private home. At No. 346, Hôtel Max Hallet is one of Horta’s masterpieces, built in 1903. Continuing south leads to the peaceful atmosphere of Ixelles and its parkland.