Brussels park first in Belgium to be included in prestigious cultural route

Brussels park first in Belgium to be included in prestigious cultural route
Credit: Cabinet Ans Persoons

One of Brussels' most hidden Art Deco gems, the van Buuren Gardens, is the first in Belgium to be included in the renowned European Route of Historic Gardens.

This cultural route was established by the Council of Europe in 2016 and aims to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of historic gardens in Europe. The van Buuren Museum and Gardens is the first in Belgium to become a member of the exclusive network of iconic sites, which also includes the Boboli Gardens in Italy and the Serralves Park in Portugal.

"The van Buuren Gardens, with a history of almost 100 years, are a striking illustration of the continuing influence of several centuries of garden culture in Europe," said President of the European Route of Historic Gardens, Lukasz Przybylak.

The site, located in Uccle, takes its name from art lovers Alice and David van Buuren, and has been open to the public since 1975. Originally covering 26 acres in 1924, the van Buuren Gardens now extend over 1.2 hectares.

The house was built from 1924 to 1928. David van Buuren was a Jewish-Dutch banker and art collector. When Nazi Germany occupied Belgium in 1940, the couple was forced to flee to the US where they spent the war years in New York. A room in the villa documents the history of the building and the life of the couple.

Credit: Belga / Adrian Burtin

Promoting heritage

The gardens were created in phases by renowned Belgian landscape architects Jules Buyssens (1872-1958) and René Pechère (1908-2002), both linked to the Art Deco house, which is now a museum showcasing rare furniture, signed carpets, stained-glass windows, sculptures and an exceptional collection of paintings by Belgian and international masters from the 15th to the 20th century.

The gardens surrounding the house combine picturesque and Art Deco elements and consist of six zones: the Picturesque Garden, the Small Rose Garden, the Large Rose Garden, the Labyrinth, the Garden of the Heart and the Orchard. They are considered true masterpieces of landscape art and are considered one of the finest and best-preserved examples of interwar gardens in Belgium.

The Gardens van Buuren in Uccle, Brussels. Credit: Belga / Adrian Burtin

In recent years, conservation work in the gardens has been carried out in partnership with the Brussels-Capital Region.

"This international recognition of the van Buuren Gardens is an important step in preserving and promoting this landscape heritage with its Art Deco and post-war accents," said Ans Persoons, Brussels State Secretary for Spatial Planning and Heritage. The inclusion in the network will allow for more collaborations to be established and knowledge to be exchanged.

Credit: Belga/ Adrian Burtin

Persoons added that it is now her ambition to continue this work of promoting and protecting Brussels' heritage greenery by "developing a specific Brussels label for remarkable parks and gardens in the near future."

Exhibitions, concerts, conferences, meetings with artists and guided tours are organised on the site throughout the year.

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