It is situated on a hill in Brussels, which is named Koekelberg in Dutch. The name of the Basilica in French is Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. This impressive building, in religious Art Deco style, is the fifth largest church in the world.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE BASILICA
This neoclassical construction is one of the key works of the 19th century. The first stone was laid in 1905 and the building was completed sixty years later. The Basilica is an example of the great Neoclassical works commissioned under the reign of Leopold II. He wanted to show, with the disproportionate size of the building, the strength of the nation. We must remember that the majority of these projects were funded with the money obtained from the Belgian colony in Congo. A very dark period, which evennowadays remains hugely controversial in the country.
It was built to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the independence of Belgium.
THE ROLE OF THE BASILICA
As stated above, one of the main roles of the Basilica was to show the strength of the nation. From a religious point of view, it was built aiming at attracting pilgrims to Brussels. But it never played that role. Nowadays it is the fifth largest church in the world, used as a local church in the neighbourhood of Koekelberg. It is an example of the wasteful spendings during the Leopold II period.
THE INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR OF THE BASILICA
As we have been discussing, the most important feature of the building is its dimension. The church is 90 metres high(at the dome) and 167 metres long. Outside, special mention should be made to the two circular towers, with a little dome each, both of them around the central dome. The main colours are green in the domes, brown and dark pink for the rest of the building.
In the typical Art Deco interior, the use of marble stands out. The interior exceeds the visitors’ expectations,due to its dimension.
THE BASILICA OBSERVATION DECK
The main dome has an observation deck, where you will have some of the best views of Brussels. It is 58 metres high and it offers a 180 degree viewof the lower part of the city.
The tickets to go up to the observation deck cost 4 €. You will also have access to the Basilica museum.
ODDITIES ABOUT THE BASILICA
The reason why the construction took so long is that the works were halted during World War II.
At Christmas, every year, they exhibit the world’s largest Nativity Scene in the Basilica.
The entrance is not located at the front door. You enter the Basilica through a little door at the rear.
A VISIT COMBINED WITH THE ATOMIUM
Since the Basilica is quite far from the city centre, the best option to visit it is to take the metro. It is the same line which reaches the Atomium. To visit the Basilica you must take metro line 6 and stop at Simonis Leopold II. Heysel is the stop for the Atomium, at the end of the metro line.
Discover Brussels, FREE TOUR BRUSSELS
Basilica: Free admission.
To go up to the dome: Adults: 4 €.
Students and seniors: 3 €.
Brussels Card: 40% discount.
Summer hours: from 9:00 to 17:00.
Winter hours: from 10:00 to 16:00 hours.
Parvis de la Basilique, 1 Koekelberg, Brussels
HOW TO GET TO THE BASILICA OF THE SACRED HEART OF BRUSSELS
- Metro: Simonis (Leopold II), lines 2 and 6.
- Tram: Bossaert-basilique, line 19.
- Bus: Riethuisen, lines 49 and 87.
SOME PLACES NEAR THE BASILICA OF THE SACRED HEART OF BRUSSELS
- Atomium (3.2 km)
- Jeanneke Pis (3.3 km)
- Museum of the City of Brussels (3.4 km)
- Brussels Grand Place (3.4 miles)
- Manneken Pis (3.4 km)
- Mini Europe (3.4 km)