The Belgian King Leopold II commissioned the construction of a monument on the hill of Koekelberg, right in the heart of today's Brussels. The building should celebrate the 75th anniversary of the independence of Belgium.
In 1905 King Leopold II laid the first stone of the church in Gothic style. However, the First World War threw a spanner in the works, and only the ground works were completed. After the war, the initial project was suspended due to the poor state of the Belgian Treasury. The building came to a stand still.
Later, architect Albert Van Huffel was hired to create a completely new design, as the Gothic style had become outdated and Brussels was in full expansion. The construction of the new building in art deco style was slowly getting started in 1926, but again the works were stopped in 1940 because of the second World War. It took until the 1950's to start finishing the building. It would take until 1970 to complete the basilica.
With a total length of 164.5 metres, the Basilica of Koekelberg is the largest art deco building in the world It is the sixth longest church in the world. As the church is on a hill, the monumental character of the basilica is emphasized even further and on a clear day the building can be seen from kilometers away.