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Belgique Joyeuse - Expo Brussels 1958

Belgique Joyeuse at the Exhibition Expo Brussels 1958
© Expo58
Architect(s) : Y. Blomme, A. De Rijdt, L. François, A. Barrez. J. Vandevoorde, J. Wybauw

This cheerful city of five hectares was the image of a town where houses of all known Belgian styles were in perfect harmony.

In the lively streets strolled jugglers, singers, organ players, brass bands, flower sellers.
flower sellers.
The street lamps, the carriages, the old bangers and the costumes created an evocative atmosphere.

The narrow and winding streets, the squares with singing names invited you to stroll.

The 170 houses are made of wood, covered with staff; some of them were exact reproductions of existing buildings in Belgium, others were inspired by European architecture, from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the "noodle" style of 1900, interpreted with a friendly malice. Modern buildings were the culmination of this architectural anthology.

At the gateway to this happy village, you left behind all your baggage of worries and troubles. All that remained was the desire to enter each house, to discover behind the facade of one of the 50 cafés, 6 restaurants, 10 snack bars, 3 dance halls, 25 shops where craftsmen presented you with lace, crystals, pewter and ceramics, a coquettishly decorated interior.

Six gates opened the enclosure of the Belgique Joyeuse. The Porte des Archers was not a reconstruction but an evocation, it gave access to the Place du Doux Accueil, its watercourse, its bridge and its water mill.

Through the Porte du Stade, the Porte des Attractions and the Porte des Artisans, you would enter the modern part of the village reserved, for the most part, for an exhibition of arts and crafts and the Jardin des Artisans modernes.

The 1900 Gate, framed by shops and the Festival Hall, opened onto the area reserved especially for the Belle Epoque. A covered gallery housed shops.

The Porte des Archiducs opened onto the Place des Archiducs, which was surrounded by columns supporting a gallery-promenade accessible from the various establishments around it.

In the Jardin des Arbalétriers (Crossbowmen's Garden), next to the Place du Doux Accueil, archery and skittle players used to meet near a guinguette.

The Ostend alley was full of typical Belgian coastal houses.

On the Place Uilenspiegel there was a provincial house, cafés and a rotisserie; from the square a passageway led to the beguinage and the modern part of the village.

The "Diable au Corps", a Flemish renaissance-style bed, was reminiscent of the student cabaret of Brussels in 1900, which has now disappeared. On the first floor, the Théâtre de poche presented a literary cabaret show.

The Grand'Place, surrounded by cafés and terraces, was the centre of this friendly town, administered by a mayor and his two aldermen. At the back of the Grand'Place, a podium next to the festival hall was used for open-air shows. You did not lose anything of the events that took place on this square, if you followed them from the terrace on the
you could follow them from the elevated terrace.

You were invited to visit the art exhibition.

In the salons of the Brewers' House. A particularly enlightened art lover had wanted to give Belgium Joyeuse an artistic character and had given it a collection of exceptional paintings for the duration of the exhibition. He offered for your admiration some of these treasures: the "Pieta" by Quentin Metsys, the "Virgin and Child" by Gérard David, the "Adoration of the Magi" by Bernard Van Orley, a Rembrandt, a "Nude" by the Master of Fontainebleau and many others.

The Grand'Place is also home to one of the six houses reserved for the provinces of Antwerp, West Flanders, Liege, Limburg, Luxembourg and Namur. These provincial houses, scattered throughout the village, evoke the typical provincial architectural style and have been converted into tourist information centres.

At the end of the Grand'Place, the P1ace du Fourquet opened up: reminiscent of the characteristic 1900s styles. The Rue Montagne de la Cour, which led to the Place Ducale.

You still had to visit the modern section, which was just as attractive, with its chapel for modern religious art, its exhibition gallery for modern craftsmen, its gardens, its fountains and its water features.

© Guide Officiel Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles 1958 - Desclée & Co