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Re-counting World Heritage sites: #40 (Horta)

If you recall from this post, I took a day-trip to Brussels from Amsterdam on my recent Dutch journey. That allowed me not only to spend time with my eldest child who was studying in Brussels at the time, but also to take a look at UNESCO World Heritage sites within boundaries of the Belgian capital.

Victor Horta is to Brussels what Antoni Gaudi is to Barcelona, only on a smaller and admittedly less impressive scale. Nonetheless, he is recognized as one of the foremost Art Nouveau architects and four of his houses comprise a designated UNESCO site.

On our first visit to Brussels a number of years ago we already stopped by Horta Museum located in one of the four properties, Maison Horta (as well as seeing another Horta house, Maison d’Autrique, which is not part of World Heritage designation). But we took no pictures on the visit, which I intended to correct.

Unfortunately, three of the four houses are nowadays private office buildings, inaccessible for the general public. Only the museum can be visited – but photography is not permitted inside while on tour. I exchanged emails with the museum administration and received an invitation to come and take interior pictures at a designated time when the museum would not be open to visitors. That would be a remarkable opportunity if not for the fact that I could not physically be in Brussels at those hours.

In the end, all I could do was walk around these houses and take pictures of their exteriors.

The front of Horta Museum was partially obscured by parked vans from a nearby house renovation site, so all I got was a fragment.

Maison Horta, Brussels

It is actually 2 houses – the full name is Maison & Atelier Horta – joined together.

Hôtel Tassel offered a slightly better opportunity.

Hotel Tassel, Brussels

Hôtel Solvay turned out the best picture of the bunch.

Hotel Solvay, Brussels

You can see some elements of Art Nouveau in the exteriors but it is still a challenge to be duly impressed without seeing what’s inside.

The last property, Hôtel van Eetvelde, remained unseen by me even from the outside. It is located in a slightly different part of town and I did not use my time efficiently enough to fit it in.

Horta Museum is open for only a few hours each afternoon. Seeing it takes under an hour. It is reachable via a couple of tram lines but if you prefer walking it is only about 20 minutes away from the Central Station. The other two houses that I stopped by are within close proximity of the museum. The station’s information kiosk offers a good map of all Art Nouveau edifices in the city, including all Horta houses.