The Koekelberg basilica, as it is commonly called, is surely one of the most impressive and well known religious buildings of Brussels. Its size (164m long, 107m wide and 100mhigh) makes it the 5th largest church in the world. Set on a plateau dominating the north of the city, the basilica is visible from afar. Its hybrid style is inspired by Byzantine art but also by Modernism and art-deco.
It was Leopold II’s idea to build a large national basilica in Brussels and it was the building of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur of Montmartre that influenced him to launch the project. Work started in 1905, was interrupted by the 1914-18 war, restarted in 1926 under the architect Albert Van huffel and only completed in 1970.
The huge work in reinforced concrete is faced in brick which gives it all a mainly beige or brown colour. The inside is in the form of a Latin cross which provides a fine view of the whole and of the numerous stained glass windows donated by different people, associations, catholic congregations and various chapels. The basilica also has a museum of modern religious art and works by black nuns. There is access to the terrace which provides a beautiful panorama over Brussels and on a fine day Mechelen, Antwerp , the power stations of Doel and the canal lift at Ronquières can be seen.
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