Hidden Gems: Seven Instagrammable Walls of Brussels
Surprising as it may seem, walls are BIG right now and for once we’re not talking about Trump or the Irish border problem. With the growth of the selfie and Instagram culture, images snapped from everyday street-life fill up our social media feeds. Eye-catching walls, walls with interesting shadows and textures, brick walls, graffitied walls – not only can they present the perfect backdrop but they are also increasingly the main subject of our attention.
This year’s trend in online posting is for greater authenticity and the popularity of walls doesn’t appear to be going away. A colourful corrugated iron barrier or bit of graffiti behind you (or your product) looks attractive and has the added advantage of giving off a fun, unpretentious vibe.
Want to try it out? Now is a great time to do it. September light is gentler than the harsh contrasts of summer and Brussels is full of amazing graffiti and throw-ups. Some of them are part of the Comic Strip Walk. Others have gone up in for the 450th anniversary of Breugel’s death.
Here’s a ‘leg-up’ to seven of Brussels’s most instagrammable walls:
1.Rue Blaes – in the heart of the vintage and antique district. This area is chock full of great graffiti and pleasing brickwork. The trouble is, the streets are so narrow it’s hard to get far enough away for a good shot, but Rue Blaes offers the double whammy of colourful street art and an old Bovril advert for your delectation.
2. Villa Empain – This stunning Art Deco mansion built in 1930 by Baron Louis Empain has a chequered past, including Nazi occupation. But as the home of the Boghossian Foundation it is finally fulfilling Empain’s philanthropic dream again now. Materials include marble, bronze, granite, wood and some interior walls are sumptuously papered. The real treasure though is out back, where the elegant symmetry of the swimming pool will make you feel you’ve dropped into a Hopper painting.
3. The courtyard of O Lion D’Or – A refurbished trading inn on Place Saint Géry boasting a courtyard where you can see the buried river Senne and its reconstructed quayside. The red brick walls are a gift and its peace and quiet means you should not have to fight off other wall aficionados.
4. Rue Notre Seigneur 29-31 – For the 450th anniversary of Breugel’s death, the HELL’O Collective (an artistic duo composed of Jerôme Meynen and Antoine Detaille) created ‘Patience’, isolating elements of Breugel’s Patientia into geometric forms.
5. The restaurant of the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is free to access and offers fantastic views across the city through quintessentially curlicue Art Nouveau windows. Plan your visit to avoid peak mealtimes if you’re going to attempt this more technical photography challenge into the light.
6. Quai des Péniches. Along the banks of the canal, street art originating from the Kosmopolite Art Tour continues to give colourful new life to this part of the city. When visiting this part of town, don’t miss the old Citroen building at Yser.
7. The Horta Gallery in Brussels’s Gare Centrale was designed by Victor Horta but not built until after his death. Closed for 20 years from the 1980s, it is now open again and features walls lit by Lux Lumen. Visit when the space hosts the C12 nightclub for the optimum backlit wall photo opp.