Parc du Cinquantenaire
(French) or Jubelpark
(Dutch) is one of the most impressive green spaces in the capital of Belgium
. This park is also one of the largest ones in the urban heart of Brussels
with its 30 hectares of lawns, trees and alleys all in perfect symmetry. Also the architecture of the Palace, the main building on the spot is breath-taking with its imposing shape of a giant horse-shoe. One more advantage of Jubelpark, situated in the district Etterbeek, is that this is where the Independence Anniversary ceremonies are held. In fact, the very name of the park hails from the occasion of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary back in the 19th Century. Cinquantenaire
means 'Fiftieth Anniversary' in French and Jubelpark
in Dutch means 'The Jubilee Park'. Jubelpark is a loved spot for another reason as well – the annual 20-kilometre marathon starts here every year.
Originally an excersise place for the army, the site was chosen by King Leopold II at the end of the 19th Century for the celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Belgium Independence. That is why the terrain from Etterbeek was anexed to the city of Brussels in 1880 and the events for the anniversary were organised along with a national exhibition of the Belgian arts and industries. The park was laid out as a classical garden with alleys lined with trees, with parterres and lawns where sculptures of renowned Belgian artists such as Vincotte and Meunier are installed. A second exhibition and a Science and Industry Contest were held in Jubelpark in 1888. On this occasion, architect Gedeon Bordiau conceived a project to concentrate "all the knowledge of the nation" in one place and this was the Palace of the Fiftieth Anniversary (Palais Cinquantenaire
). He planned two buildings connected to each other by semicircular colonnades with an Arc de Triomphe
placed in the centre. Three imposing 45 metres high columns support the Arc.
The ensemble of Jubelpark and its palace faces the central parts of Brussels and the Royal Palace
and is connected to them by a long boulevard. For the 1897 World Exhibition more buildings were added to the complex as well as the esplanade behind the arcade. After the death of Charles Girault who made the plans of the triple arcade, the construction was inaugurated in 1905 during the 75th Anniversary of Belgium's indepemdence. The focal point of Jubelpark besides the Arc is an imposing bronze sculpture representing Brabant upright on a coach driven by four horses and holding a flag. The eight other provinces are represented by sculpture as well. The park reaches its current size of 30 hectares, limited by the urbanisation processes but there remained a place for fairs and exposures until the 1930s with the construction of the Heysel Palace.
Parc Cinquantenaire does have a number of interesting constructions on its premises and the one that dwarves all the others around with its shine is the Palais du Cinquantenaire
. The arcades of this structure shelter the collections of several museums such as the Museum of Aviation (north-east wing), the Army Museum and the Royal Institute of Artistic Heritage (northern parts of the building), the Autoworld
– a car museum in the south-eastern wing and the Royal museum of Arts and History (in the southern wing). All these museums gathered on one spot make the Palace an exceptionally interesting site. However, the several pavilions are not to be missed as well, including the Pavilion of Human Passions, the Tournai Tower built in pseudo-Medieval style, the monument of the Belgian Pioneers in Congo, the Monument in homage to the Aviators fallen in service and many more. Among the trees in Jubelpark there is also a number of elegant sculptures that decorate the place. For instance 'The Dog of Ulm' (also called 'The Green Dog' because of the colour of the aged bronze), 'The Reaper' by Constantin Meunier and allegories of the four seasons designed by different artists. And all these brilliant features of a well-kept classic park are topped off with the relaxing company of the finest greenery.
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