Places of Interest nearby
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The Great Mosque of Brussels is the oldest mosque in Brussels. It is located in the Cinquantenaire Park. It is also the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium. The original building was built by architect Ernest Van Humbeek in an Arabic style, to form the Oriental Pavilion of the National Exhibition in Brussls in 1880. At that time the pavilion housed a monumental painting on canvas: “Panorama of Cairo”, by the Belgian painter Emile Wauters, which enjoyed major success. However, lack of maintenance in the twentieth century caused the building to deteriorate gradually. In 1967, King Baudouin made a gift of the building to King Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, on an official visit to Belgium, that it might be turned into a place of worship for the use of the Muslim community of Belgium which had grown considerably by that time. The mosque, after a long reconstruction carried out at the expense of Saudi Arabia by Tunisian architect Boubaker, was inaugurated in 1978 in the presence of Khalid ibn Abd al-Aziz and Baudouin. The Mosque’s role the leading religious institution within the Belgian Islamic community—as well as its intended role as diplomatic bridge between the Saudi and Belgian monarchies—has been a point of debate since its re-foundation. Today, it also hosts a school and an Islamic research centre whose objectives are to propagate the Muslim faith. The centre also provides courses of Arabic for adults and children, as well as introductory courses in Islam.