Infobox Belgium Municipality
name=Ixelles Fr icon
Elsene Nl icon
picture=Abb.de la Cambre, palais abbatial.jpg
picture-width= 260px



flag_link=Symbols of Brussels#Municipalities
arms_link=Symbols of Brussels#Municipalities
mayor=Willy Decourty (LB)
majority=MR, LB
web= [http://www.ixelles.be/ www.ixelles.be]

Elsene (Dutch) or Ixelles (French) is one of the nineteen municipalities located in the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium.


Ixelles or Elsene is located in the south of Brussels and is divided into two parts by the Avenue Louise/Louizalaan, which is part of the City of Brussels municipality. The smaller west part of the municipality includes Bailli Street (French: "Rue du Bailli", Dutch: "Baljuwstraat") and extends roughly from the Avenue Louise to the Avenue Brugmann (French: "Avenue Brugmann", Dutch: "Brugmannlaan").

The larger east part of the municipality includes the sites of the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and the Eugène Flagey square.

The construction of Avenue Louise/Louizalaan was commissioned in 1847 as a monumental avenue bordered by chestnut trees that would allow easy access to the popular recreational area of the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos. It was also to be the first Haussmann-esque artery of the city of Brussels. However, fierce resistance to the project was put up by the town of Ixelles (which was then still separate from Brussels) through whose land the avenue was supposed to run. After years of fruitless negotiations, Brussels finally annexed the narrow band of land needed for the avenue plus the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos itself in 1864. That decision accounts for the unusual shape of today's City of Brussels and for Ixelles being split in two separate parts.

The Bois de la Cambre (French) or Ter Kamerenbos (Dutch) is located just south of Ixelles.


Ixelles is known throughout Belgium for its high population of people of African origins. This population is mainly concentrated in the environs of Porte de Namur intersection, renamed popularly as "Matongé" or "Matongué" after the marketplace and the commercial district with the same name in Kalamu, Kinshasa. The core of Matongé was formed in late 1950s by the foundation of "Maisaf" ("Maison Africaine", "African House") which served as a centre for university students from the Belgian Congo. After the independence of Congo, the district faced an influx of immigrants from Congo who shaped the neighbourhood in a style to resemble the original Matongé. There are also communities from other African countries like Rwanda, Burundi, Mali, Cameroon, and Senegal present in the district. The famous shopping arcade Galerie d'Ixelles is located in the heart of Matongé.

The district also attained notoriety from early 2000s with gang violence perpetrated by African gangs like "Black Démolition". It was the scene of race riots in January 2001. Matongé, with its more recent immigrant communities from Latin America, Pakistan, and India along with African ones, is seen as a symbol of multiculturalism in Belgium.


Medieval origins

The origins of the village of Ixelles date from the foundation of the "Abbey of La Cambre" ( _nl. Abdij ter Kameren) by a Benedictine nun in 1196. The abbey was located near the springs of the Maelbeek in the Sonian Forest, the remnant of which closest to Brussels became known as "Bois de la Cambre" ("Ter Kamerenbos"). The abbey was consecrated by the Bishop of Cambrai soon after its foundation. Boniface of Brussels and Alice of Schaarbeek were two of its most famous residents in the 13th century.

Around 1300, during the reign of John II, Duke of Brabant, a hostel was built near the abbey to provide meals to the wood bearers working in the forest. Soon, a hamlet and a couple of chapels were built, including the "Church of the Holy Cross" (French: "Sainte Croix", Dutch: "Heilige Kruis"), also dedicated by the Bishop of Cambrai in 1459. The area included several ponds, still visible today, that provided fish to the abbey and to the neighbouring hamlets. At that time, part of Ixelles was a dependence of Brussels; the other part was the property of the local lord.

Before the Revolution

In 1478, the wars between Louis XI of France and Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor brought devastation to the abbey and the surrounding areas. In 1585, the Spanish burnt down most of the buildings to prevent them from being used as a refuge by the calvinists. The abbey was restored in time for the Joyous Entry of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella in 1599. Further manors and castles (Ermitage, Ten Bosch, Ixelles) were built in Ixelles in the 16th century, gradually transforming the hamlet into a full-fledged village. The purity of the pond water attracted breweries to the area, some of which survived well into the 20th century.

A municipality of its own

In 1795, like many of the other towns surrounding Brussels, Ixelles was proclaimed a municipality of its own by the French regime after the Revolution. The abbey was stripped of its religious functions, becoming among others a cotton-manufacturing plant, a farm, a military school, and a hospital. Many of the medieval gates of Brussels that lined what is now the inner ring road were taken down and more streets were built to accommodate the migration towards the suburbs. Ixelles' population grew nearly one-hundredfold, from 677 in 1813 to more than 58,000 in 1900.

At the end of the 19th century, some of the ponds were drained and a new Church of the Holy Cross was built. The first streetcars appeared in 1884 and the first movie theatre in 1919. Ixelles and the Avenue Louise became one of the classy areas of Brussels. Artists and celebrities moved in, leading to architectural novelties such as Art Nouveau and Art Deco.


*The buildings of the Abbey of la Cambre house a renowned school for the visual arts, the National Geographic Institute, and various parish functions.
*The Ixelles Ponds and Tenbosch Park offer a welcome green spot in the middle of the city.
*The Art Deco building on the Flagey square used to house the studios of the Belgian radio and television broadcasting companies (RTBF and VRT). The Résidence de la Cambre is another notable Art Deco building.
*Several Art Nouveau houses were built by Victor Horta and can still be seen today.
*Two universities—the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel—have their campuses in Ixelles.
*The Ixelles Cemetery is one of the most important cemeteries in the country as it contains the graves of a number of famous Belgian personalities. The French General Georges Boulanger committed suicide here, on the tomb of his mistress, who had died a couple of months earlier.
*Ixelles also houses several interesting churches and museums, including a fine-arts museum and the Constantin Meunier museum, established in the residence where the artist lived part of his life.


*Several fairs are organized in Ixelles, including the Spring Fair on the Flagey square, which takes place between the fourth and sixth Sunday after Easter, and the Boondael Fair at the end of July.

Famous inhabitants

The following people were born in Ixelles:
*Camille Lemonnier, writer and poet (1844-1913)
*Paul Saintenoy, architect, teacher, architectural historian, and writer (1862-1952)
*Paul Hymans, politician and former president of the League of Nations (1865-1941)
*Emile Vandervelde, statesman (1866-1938)
*Auguste Perret, architect (1874-1954)
*Jacques Feyder, screenwriter and film director (1885-1948)
*Michel de Ghelderode, avant-garde dramatist (1898-1962)
*Leo Joseph Suenens, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church (1904-1996)
*Agnes Varda, film director (b. 1928)
*Audrey Hepburn, actress, fashion model, and humanitarian (1929-1993)
*Michel Regnier a.k.a. Greg, comic-book writer and artist (1931-1999)
*Jaco Van Dormael, screenwriter and film director (b. 1957)
*Natacha Régnier, actress (b. 1974)
*Julio Cortázar, writer of novels (1914-1984)

The following people lived part of their life in Ixelles:

*Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) lived and died at nr1 ,avenue de la Couronne;a tablet with an inscription is visible on the building wall
*Antoine Wiertz, painter and sculptor (1806-1865)
*Maria Malibran, mezzo-soprano (1808-1836)
*Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, anarchist thinker (1809-1865)
*Karl Marx, philosopher, political economist, and social revolutionary (1818-1883)
*Charles de Coster, novelist (1827-1879)
*Elisée Reclus, geographer and anarchist (1830-1905)
*Constantin Meunier, painter and sculptor (1831-1905)
*Jean-Baptiste Moens, philatelist and stamp dealer (1833-1908)
*Johan Michiel Dautzenberg, writer, (1834-1878)
*Ernest Solvay, chemist, industrialist, and philanthropist (1838-1922)
*Auguste Rodin, sculptor (1840-1917)
*Octave Maus, art critic, writer, and lawyer (1856-1919)
*Neel Doff, writer (1858-1942)
*August de Boeck, composer, organist, and music pedagogue (1865-1937)
*Vladimir Lenin, Russian revolutionary and first head of the Soviet Union (1870-1924)
*Henri Michaux, poet, writer, and painter (1899-1984)
*Barbara, singer (1930-1997)
*Amélie Nothomb, writer (b. 1967)

Twin cities

*FRA: Biarritz
*PLE: Zababdeh

See also

*Ixelles Cemetery
*Municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region

External links

* [http://www.elsene.be/ Official site of Elsene / Ixelles municipality] (only in French or Dutch)

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