National Basilica of the Sacred Heart
It was Leopold II who was responsible for launching the project to build a religious building on this site. The monarch wanted a church that would surpass the Sacré-Cœur in Paris.
Although the first stone was laid in 1905, the building that we know today is a project from a 1920 architectural competition by Ghent-based architect Albert Van Huffel. His mission was to design a church capable of holding 3,000 to 4,000 people with nine chapels representing the country’s provinces. A good example of religious Art Deco, the basilica’s dome stands at 30 m in diameter and almost 90 m in height while the front towers measure 65 m.
The vast indoor spaces are decorated with a combination of materials, including Burgundy stone, Dutch brick or terracotta moulded into hollow blocks, glazed and baked in a furnace.