Unique old firehouses in Antwerp

Emiel Van Averbeke is one of the key figures of Antwerp Art Nouveau. Among other things Van Averbeke was a city official and in that capacity he was often instructed to design new fire stations. The first of the series of three is the one in the Paleissraat, dating back to 1907.

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He works together with Jan Van Asperen, a fellow student. The fire station was built in a sober Art Nouveau style, following the architectural ideas from the Dutch architect Berlage. A 2nd fire station of his hand is in the one in the Halenstraat and is built between 1910 and 1913.

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The last firehouse that Emiel Van Averbeke designed is the one that is located in the Siberiastraat. That building has been recently modified and has a diamond shaped structure built on top of it. It is now in use as the new Antwerp Port House.

This is where Belgian chocolates were born

In 1857 Jean Neuhaus opened a pharmacy in the prestigious Brussels Royal Saint Hubert galleries. To give his medicine a better taste, he put a thin layer of chocolate around it. Jean Neuhaus Jr., inherited his father's passion for chocolate and came up with the ingenious idea to use a delectable soft filling instead of the medicine. That is how the praline was created in 1912.

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In addition, Louise Agostini, the wife of Jean Neuhaus Jr., created in 1915 the first 'ballotin', a gift box with a ribbon around it, in which the chocolates were sold. The Belgian pralines were presented as a real treat.

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In the following years, the praline in Belgium boomed when chocolatier Charles Callebaut discovered in 1925 how he could transport liquid chocolate. Ten years later, Basile Kestekid├Ęs (a relative of the founder of Leonidas) created the legendary Manon: a large praline based on buttercream with coffee flavor, with a layer of white chocolate around it. That delicious delicacy is still popular today.

The statue of Pieter Bruegel in Brussels

The statue of Pieter Bruegel the Elder was inaugurated in November 2015 at the Chapel Church in Brussels. It is a bronze statue made by sculptor Tom Frantzen. The statue was placed at the Chapel Church where famous painter is buried.

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Bruegel spent years of his life in Brussels and painted his most famous works there. But he did receive a lot of the respect of the city because he was a Flemish painter who had moved from Antwerp to Brussels. Even centuries later, French-speaking Brussels politicians sabotaged the installation of Bruegel's statue for more than 13 years.

The statue suggests Bruegel with a monkey on his shoulder, a monkey with a funnel on his head, symbolizing the satirical spirit of Bruegel. The painter and the monkey look in the same direction. What is the artist painting? He paints the evolution of life, he observes, he transposes, just as he always did.

You can find the statue of Pieter Bruegel the Elder at this address: Kapelleplaats 1, Brussels.