The Halle Gate is a medieval fortified city gate of the second walls of Brussels. It is now a museum, part of the Royal Museums for Art and History. Built in 1381, the gate was named for the city of Halle in Flemish Brabant which it faces. The original gate included a portcullis and drawbridge over a moat. The structures that housed these are still visible.
While the other six gateways and the defensive walls were demolished, the Halle Gate survived as it was used as a prison. It was at other times used as a customs house, for grain storage, and a Lutheran church.
The architect Henri Beyaert restored the building between 1868 and 1870, changing the austere medieval tower with more romantic Neo Gothic embellishments. The outer entrance, now facing Saint-Gilles, is closer to the original appearance. In front of the inner gate, facing the city of Brussels, Beyaert added a circular tower topped by a conical roof, containing a monumental spiral staircase. Beyaert also added turrets and a large roof.
In 1847 the Halle Gate became part of Belgium's Museum of Armour, Antiquity and Ethnology, now named the Royal Museums for Art and History. By 1889, the Halle Gate was too small to house most of the collection, and most was relocated to the Cinquantenaire Museum. It continued to display armour and weapons.
In 1976, the building was in a dangerous state of disrepair and was closed. Finally renovations began, and the Gate was reopened in 1991. Further restoration was stalled by lack of money, and the museum only housed temporary exhibitions.
In March 2007 a new extensive restoration was begun. The Halle Gate finally reopened on June 6, 2008. Finally the St Gilles (drawbridge) entrance was opened as the prestigious main entrance to the building. The museum includes exhibits about the history of the building, and of the city of Brussels and its defence. The collection includes the parade armor of Archduke Albert of Austria.References:
The Church of St Eustace was built between 1532-1632. St Eustace"s is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The church’s reputation was strong enough of the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive communion. Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here in the 17th century. The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls. Marie de Gournay is buried there.
The origins of Saint Eustache date back to 13th century. The church became a parish church in 1223, thanks to a man named Jean Alais who achieved this by taxing the baskets of fish sold nearby, as granted by King Philip Augustus. To thank such divine generosity, Alais constructed a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity, and it is believed that it was the transfer of a relic of Saint Eustache from the Abbey to Saint-Denis to the Church of Saint Eustache which resulted in its naming. Jeanne Baptiste d"Albert de Luynes was baptised here.
According to tourist literature on-site, during the French Revolution the church, like most churches in Paris, was desecrated, looted, and used for a time as a barn. The church was restored after the Revolution had run its course and remains in use today. Several impressive paintings by Rubens remain in the church today. Each summer, organ concerts commemorate the premieres of Berlioz’s Te Deum and Liszt’s Christus here in 1886.
The church is an example of a Gothic structure clothed in Renaissance detail. The church is relatively short in length at 105m, but its interior is 33.45m high to the vaulting. At the main façade, the left tower has been completed in Renaissance style, while the right tower remains a stump. The front and rear aspects provide a remarkable contrast between the comparatively sober classical front and the exuberant rear, which integrates Gothic forms and organization with Classical details. The L"écoute sculpture by Henri de Miller appears outside the church, to the south. A Keith Haring sculpture stands in a chapel of the church.
The Chapel of the Virgin was built in 1640 and restored from 1801 to 1804. It was inaugurated by Pius VII on the 22nd of December, 1804 when he came to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon. The apse chapel, with a ribbed cul-de-four vault, has at its centre a sculpture of the Virgin and Child of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle that the painter Thomas Couture highlighted by three large paintings.
With 8,000 pipes, the organ is reputed to be the largest pipe organ in France, surpassing the organs of Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame de Paris. The organ originally constructed by P.-A. Ducroquet was powerful enough for the premiere of Hector Berlioz" titanic Te Deum to be performed at St-Eustache in 1855.