Last updated on 28/10/2015
Noteworthy Cemeteries in Brussels
With somewhat heavy hearts, many of us, on the occasion of All Souls' Day, survey the linear alleys of the Brussels cemeteries, with a chrysanthemum, a shovel and a bottle of water in our arms. But very often, we don't linger there.
However, some of our cemeteries are worth the stay, if only because of the contemplative and spiritually fulfilling atmosphere that we can feel there. This is the case with the little Woluwé-Saint-Lambert Cemetery, not far from Tomberg. No famous tomb, no remarkable monument, but soley birdsong, public benches around flower beds, a kind of little public park, all in all, where for a while, one would see children playing marbles.
Of a quite different order is Laeken Cemetery, the only Brussels cemetery that is still deployed around a parish church. As romantic as one could wish, monuments of the notable, and tombs of the local famous (Fernand Khnopff, Michel de Ghelderode, Joseph Poelaert...), it's not surprising that it is regularly visited by tourists and by home-grown inhabitants of Brussels, or where people occasionally tell each other cock-and-bull stories at nightfall...
One of 20 original versions of Rodin's The Thinker stands out in the back of the cemetary. To give you a little bit of the spooks, go underground to the funeral galeries. Even if the majority of the areas are not accessible for safety reasons, the creepiness of the place is worth seeing... Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
You can also go see the royal crypt to remember our former soveriegns. The crypt is open every Sunday from 2 pm to 5 pm and during certain commemorative events. More information on www.monarchie.be.
The Ixelles Cemetery is a little bit like Laeken Cemetery and is therefore also worth the trip. There too, some famous people have ordered their plot of land there, such as Victor Horta, Ernest Solvay and Frederic Neuhaus. In 1891, the former French Minister of War, Georges Boulanger, even committed suicide there, inconsolably heartbroken, on the tomb of his mistress.
Stretching for 38 hectares, the Brussels cemetary is the biggest in the region. Inaugurated in 1877 by the Mayor Anspach, this cemetary looks kind of like a big park: wide paths, lush with trees and trails... and of course a number of tombs of which about a thousand came directly from the old necropoles of this capital. Amongst the famous Brussels inhabitants who are laid to rest there are also François Van Campenhout (the composer of "The Brabançonne"), Raymond Goethals (football coach) and Théodore Verhaegen (founder of ULB).
Several other headstones were made into other memorials. You can pay tribute to the soldiers of the Belgian Revolution, the Battle of Waterloo, the two World Wars and also the victims of the fire in the Innovation department store in 1967.
And then, we cannot fail to mention the marvellous Dieweg Cemetery, where burials are no longer a matter of course. Abandoned in 1958, the tombs have become overgrown, which bestows the place with a superbly romantic atmosphere today.
Some more famous people's grave are found here too: Hergé, the cartoonist, Paul Hankar, the architect, and Gatti de Gamond, the feminist. Another random fact? The Dieweg also houses a prominant Ashkenazi Jew cemetary.