The Hôtel Solvay is a large Art Nouveau town house designed by Victor Horta on the Avenue Louise in Brussels. The house was commissioned by Armand Solvay, the son of the wealthy Belgian chemist and industrialist Ernest Solvay. For this wealthy patron Horta could spend a fortune on precious materials and expensive details. Horta designed every single detail; furniture, carpets, light fittings, tableware and even the door bell. He used expensive materials such as marble, onyx, bronze, tropic woods etc. For the decoration of the staircase Horta cooperated with the Belgian pointillist painter Théo van Rysselberghe. The Hôtel Solvay and most of its splendid content remained intact thanks to the Wittamer family. They acquired the house in the 1950s and did the utmost to preserve and restore this magnificent dwelling. The house is still private property and can only be visited by appointment and under very strict conditions. The edifice is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The UNESCO commission recognized the Hôtel Solvay as UNESCO World Heritage in 2000 as one of the Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.