Hidden Belgium: The Africa Quarter

Hidden Belgium: The Africa Quarter

The Matonge lies on the edge of the European quarter, but nowhere in Belgium is less European.

This neighbourhood was built in the late nineteenth century as an elegant bourgeois district, with a mix of neo-classical and Art Nouveau architecture. But it gradually evolved into an African neighbourhood in the 1960s, taking its name from a neighbourhood in Kinshasa.

The community developed around the Congolese student house Maison Africaine set up by a Belgian woman known affectionately as Mamma Monique. Now the neighbourhood is a vibrant mix of Congolese food stores, bars and hairdressers.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.

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