Cinquantenaire is a large public park located in the South-East part of Brussels that was built in 1880 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Belgian independence.
Spend your day in the best park in Brussels, Cinquantenaire
1. The history of Cinquantenaire
Before becoming a park for the National Exhibition in 1880, the area was used as a part of military exercise ground. Then, the plain was developed to be an exhibition center by Gedeon Bordiau. However, most part of the park from 1880 were changed in 1904 with the design on the arch and large halls on both sides by Charles Girault. The only part remains from the original were the glass-constructed halls. Though the construction was finished in 1880, however King Leopold II wanted to complete some parts that were built with wooden panels. The wish of the king was in contrary with the government that did not want to spend more money on the construction. However, in 1897, the wings of the building were extended for the Brussels International Exposition, a World Fair that were participated by 27 countries and attended by 7.8 million people. Even during this time, the arch was still considered incomplete.
2. The completion of Cinquantenaire
Before the Cinaquantenaire was completed, the original designer, Gideon Bordiau, died in 1904. His successor was then chosen personally by King Leopold II. Leopold chose a French architect named Charles Girault, who then changed the design from a single arch to a tri-parte arch. He also worked together with some sculptors. Those are Jules Lagae and Thomas Vincotte that created the quadriga, Albert Desenfans that created Hainaut and Limburg, Charles van der Stappen that created figures of Antwerp and Liege, Jef Lambeaux that created figures of East and West Flanders, and Guillaume de Groot that created the figures of Namur and Luxembourg. The monument was finally completed with private funding in 1905, the same year with 75th anniversary of the Belgian Independence.
3. The Cinquantenaire nowadays
The Cinquantenaire or the Jubelpark is now the house of three museums and a mosque. While in summer, the park is used for events, including military parades and drive-in movies. The park is also the starting point for an annual running event in Brussels participated by over 30.000 people with the distance of 20 km. The park is also used by a lot of people for sport or a place to meet. This is because the park has a lot of facilities, including picnic tables, playground for children from 3 to 12 years old, sports pitch, and desk chairs. The place also offers a beautiful view that makes it a popular tourist attraction with the four horse chariots on top of the arches representing the Brabant with the National flag. The top of the arch can also be visited for free by taking the lift at the army museum to see the mesmerizing view of the city.
4. See the original building built in 1880
If you want to see the original building designed by Bordiau in 1880, then you can go to the northern Bordiau Hall that is part of the Military Museum. The museum itself was moved from Abbaye de la Cambre in 1923. Inside, you will see around 900 collections that were collected by the officer Louis Leconte. The officer himself collected equipments that were used by the Germans in 1918. Here, you will be able to see a lot of uniforms, weapons, vehicles and military equipment of all ages and all countries. While the north wing is used for aviation hall since 1972 that includes various types of aircraft. The collection in this museum were considered as one of the largest in the world.
5. Visit the other museums in the South
Other than the military museum, there were two other museums located in the Cinquantenaire. Those are the art and history museum and the AutoWorld. The Art and History Museum houses national collection of artifacts from prehistory era to the Merovingian era in 751 AD, collection of artifacts from the antiquity of the Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Other collections come from European decorative arts includes pieces from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. While the non-European collections come from civilisations in China, Japan, Korea, pre-Columbian America, and the Islamic world. In the AutoWorld, you will find collections of antique cars from the late 19th century until the 1970s.
6. Visit the Grand Mosque of Brussels
In the north-western corner of the park is the oldest mosque in Brussels that is also used as the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium. The Cultural Centre operates a school and a research center that provides courses of Arabic to both adults and children, and initiations to Islam. The original building was also built in 1880. However, lack of funding caused the building to deteriorate. The mosque itself was built in 1978 with the design by a Tunisian architect, Mongi Boubaker.
How to Get Tickets?
It depends where you want to go. To enjoy the park or the view from the top of the arch, you won't need any ticket. However, it is better to check and book tickets online if you want to visit the museums located in the Cinquatenaire.
How To Get Around?
To get around the park, it is best to walk around while enjoying the nice view and the fresh air. However, it is also common for people to come and go around with a bicycle.
What Should I Wear?
There is no recommended dresscode for visiting the Cinquatenaire. However, remember to always check the weather and wear a comfortable clothes if you want to walk around.
Best Time to Visit
Best time to visit the Cinquatenaire is during the summer when there are several events going, though it can be very crowded with tourist.
Will I Need a Guide?
You don't need a guide to enjoy the Cinquatenaire. However, you may need one when you are visiting the museum or the mosque to get better explanations.
How To Get There?
You can go to Cinquatenaire by Metro. Ride the one to Merode if you want to stop in front of the park or Schuman that will take you to the back of the park.