Category Archives: Sint-Jans-Molenbeek

Postcards from Brussels

A bourgeois city gone to seed

A Sint-Jans-Molenbeek street, Brussels:

The Sint-Jans-Molenbeek district: Brussels, the ‘sepulchral city’, as Conrad called it in Heart of Darkness, is, says Dalrymple, ‘dirty and unswept’; the houses, once all ‘bourgeois pride and prosperity’, are neglected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The degeneration Brussels: 'Despite the fact that the public sector accounts for 50 per cent of GDP, it remains dirty and uncared for, and is architecturally ever more a hideous mish-mash. Many of the buildings were defaced by graffiti, the architectural equivalent of tattoos and just as idiotically egotistic'

Degeneration: ‘despite the fact that the public sector accounts for 50% of GDP, Brussels remains dirty and uncared for’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cretinism: 'Many of the buildings were defaced by graffiti, the architectural equivalent of tattoos and just as idiotically egotistic'

Cretinism: ‘many of the buildings were defaced by graffiti, the architectural equivalent of tattoos and as idiotically egotistic’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An architectural 'mishmash', says Dalrymple, but he would surely acknowledge that this is part of the city's charm

An architectural ‘mishmash’, says Dalrymple, but he would surely acknowledge that this is part of the charm of Brussels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palais des Beaux-Arts (Paleis voor Schone Kunsten), Victor Horta, 1928: the ugliest of all the major art galleries of the world, a building in the fascist style but without the courage of its megalomania, designed as if by a pocket Albert Speer

Palais des Beaux-Arts (Paleis voor Schone Kunsten), Victor Horta, 1928: ‘the ugliest of all the world’s major art galleries, a building in the fascist style but without the courage of its megalomania, designed as if by a pocket Albert Speer’

Sint-Jans-Molenbeek perambulation

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 08.31.40It is undeniable, writes Dalrymple, that Britain has ‘more unattractive people than any other country in Europe’. Yet parts of the Continent are not far behind. The sides of the roads in Belgium, for instance, are

a rubbish tip. This cannot have been for lack of money to clear…up: the Belgian economy is…50 per cent government expenditure. Nor can it have been the result of…ignorance: the Belgians are…much better educated than the British…it could only have been because …Belgians…regard their country as a…dustbin.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 08.32.44Visiting Brussels, our man perambulates in the as-yet-largely-ungentrified Sint-Jans-Molenbeek quarter, where many Moroccans and Turks reside. Being a properly urban area, it does not dishearten in the way the Paris banlieues do, he finds.

Alphonse Vandenpeereboomstraat, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek

A peek at Molenbeek: section of Alphonse Vandenpeereboomstraat, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, in what Conrad called ‘the sepulchral city’