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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Brussels at Dusk

Yesterday I had the chance to spend an evening in Brussels so camera in hand I went image hunting. I started at 7.30 so I had to be quick and efficient. I go to Brussels several times per year but I rarely have the chance to make some pictures. I am either very busy, it is gray and rainy or it gets dark by the time the work is over. Yesterday I was lucky as I managed to steal two hours from the dying day.

Brussels has a special meaning for me as my paternal grandfather whom I don't know used to study here between 1922 and 1927. His stepmother was Flemish from Brussels. One of the things I was trying to understand yesterday was what was there while he was walking the streets and what wasn't.

Most streets in the neighbourhood (behind Berleymont) are named after renaissance painters. This beautiful 205 year house was on my street, rue Veronese. The house stands so proudly and is in such a good form as if it is getting ready to be there another 200 years at least.

205 years old

This preserved piece of old wall was next door to my hotel. It must have some historical value as obviously the city had taken good care to preserve it. I was not able to read what is written but I think it is in Flemish. Aren't old inscriptions on walls and shops an excellent way to travel back in time? How many years will this paint last before fully disapearing?

Old Wall

The house below carries its balcony like a kangaroo carries its baby. This one is so beautiful that it will never let it go.

Baby Balcony

I realize that I repeatedly make pictures of house walls showered by the sun. As if I will be a lizard in my next life and I am mapping walls to crawl on.

The Sunny Side of the Street

I find that the moment of exiting a metro station is very exciting. I remember that I was so thrilled when I arrived in London for the first time in 1992 and when I dived into the city through a metro station. I can't remember the name of the station. I was equally thrilled in early April this year when getting out of St. Michel metro station in Paris. Moles must feel in a similar way when getting out of their holes.

Station Parc

And the purpose of getting out at this particular station was to make a picture of these embracing trees. If one is a monkey, one can go around the park without touching the ground.

Embracing Trees

These terrible scary creatures looking down at us from the cathedrals have always fascinated me. Look at this one: it is as if it is wearing fashionable sunglasses. Its toothless mouth is ready to swallow an occasional passing sinner for dinner.

(St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral - 11-13th century)

This tender little tree has grown from the cracks in the wall of the cathedral, ancient and young coexisting so well. With a little bit of help from God this 10 century old cathedral is still in a child bearing age.

Furtive Tree
(St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral - 11-13th century)

Belgium is traditionally strong in comic books (remember Les Avantures de Tintin) but also urban murals. I found this one particularly cool: there is a masked killer with a knife in the back attacking the lady and then a young blonde guy coming to her rescue while the pipe-smoking detective is also heading to the crime scene. Isn't it romantic?

The Blond Saviour and the Detective

It was already almost 10 pm and the sun had to set at one point after all. Then, behind a corner, I came upon this marvel of a church. What struck me are the oval side windows, not easy to see unfortunately.

St X of the Setting Sun

Very close to the above church I stumbled upon an old market - St. Gery. I looked at the symmetric figures of the year 1881 and thought that actually there is only one year per century where the numbers are symmetrical. I thought that all of us have lived through two such years - 1991 and 2002. Most probably none of us will live to the next one which will be in 2112 unless there is a major breakthrough in medicine very, very soon.

St. Gery Market

I meanly used the beautiful St. Nicholas church as a fullstop to my walk. One of the oldest churches in Brussels, it is constructed between the 12th and the 15th centuries.

St. Nicholas Church


Delwyn said...

A lovely walk in Brussels thanks Ruslan.
My Beloved's grandfather was a language professor teaching in Brussels at the outbreak of WW1. His family was sent home earlier but he just managed with a lot of pushing and jostling to get on one of the last boats out...
I wrote about him in Fais ce que voudras post.

Happy Days

Amber said...

Great buildings! I havent spent much time in Brussels, but it looks lovely. Thank you for the walk! Camera in hand walks are so much fun.

I_am_Tulsa said...

The pictures are amazing! I've only seen buildings like that in picture books...I soooo envy you!
The windows are beautiful too!

Dumdad said...

I loved all the animal references! So what will you be in the next life - a kangaroo, a lizard, a mole or a monkey!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thank you for another wonderful travelogue type post. I visited Brussels many years ago but do not remember it being as fascinating as your post has made it. But at that time I was caught in a transport workers' strike.

Ruslan said...

Dear Delwyn. I'll read the post about your grandfather now.

Dear Amber,
Usually people associate Brussels with business and some honestly dislike it. I always try to convince them that it is a very nice city.

Dear Tulsa,
This is one more reason for you to book your ticket to Europe.

Dear Dumdad,
You made me realise that I made many animal references. However, I don;t much believe in that. However, monkey would be nice, just scratching yourself and jumping on the trees.

Dear squirell,
Thanks for the compliment:-)

spudballoo said...

How wonderful! I've been to Brussels a couple of times, but never seen the beuatiful things you found in just a couple of hours. Wonderful shots, thank you!