UNESCO Heritage Site #68: Splashes of Art Nouveau Opulence

It began, as it usually does, with Italy. My last year’s European tour included a week-long Italian leg. Having visited most of the major cities in Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples), I was tasked with finding a way to travel from Rome to Milan in a week. Not having a guide book with me or, for that matter, any idea where to go, I chose to look at the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Considering Italy has the most with 50 sites, it should come as no surprise that I had absolutely no difficulty in devising an original route. My new itinerary included a variety of diverse stops such as painted Etruscan necropolises, trails of Cinque Terre and 19th century model industrial village outside of Milan. The obsessive collector in me was hooked immediately. From then onwards, I have started actively including Heritage sites into my travel itineraries.

Being the ridiculous meticulous person in matters that don’t matter, I have looked through the entire list of 1007 Heritage Sites, and I have counted that prior to the trip, I have visited exactly 67 of them. I have made up strict rules for myself by only allowing to count sites that I have seen extensively, and not partially. So, for example, Modernist Buildings in Berlin or Mountain Railways of India were not counted as I have only seen one example from that collection of sites.

Major Town Houses of Architect Victor Horta in Brussels is just the example of such an ensemble of buildings grouped together to present a common cultural and artistic theme.

Victor Horta was a Belgian architect at the turn of the 19th century. Considering I already love Art Nouveau architecture, it was really no hardship exploring Brussels on a warm sunny afternoon searching for outstanding 19th-century buildings amongst the modern glassy surfaces. I did miss one building, namely Hôtel Van Eetvelde, which was really out of the way. However, according to my own rules, since I have seen 3 out of 4 buildings, I can check it off. So following an afternoon architectural scavenger hunt around Brussels, I was off to see Kalen and Stela, who have recently moved to Amsterdam.


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