The Parc du Cinquantenaire (French for "Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary", pronounced [paʁk dy sɛ̃kɑ̃tnɛʁ]) or Jubelpark (Dutch for "Jubilee Park", pronounced [ˈjybəlpɑrk]) is a large public, urban park of 30 ha (74 acres) in the easternmost part of the European Quarter in Brussels, Belgium.

Parc du Cinquantenaire (in French)
Jubelpark (in Dutch)
Cinquantenaire Park panorama.jpg
The centrepiece Arc du Cinquantenaire and U-shaped arcade
TypePublic leisure park, pedestrian square
LocationCity of Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Coordinates50°50′26″N 4°23′34″E / 50.84056°N 4.39278°E / 50.84056; 4.39278Coordinates: 50°50′26″N 4°23′34″E / 50.84056°N 4.39278°E / 50.84056; 4.39278
Area30 ha (74 acres)[1]
Public transit accessSchuman and Merode

Most buildings of the U-shaped complex which dominate the park were commissioned by the Belgian government under the patronage of King Leopold II for the 1880 National Exhibition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Belgian Revolution. During successive exhibitions in the same area, more structures were added. The centrepiece memorial arch, known as the Cinquantenaire Arch (French: Arc du Cinquantenaire, Dutch: Triomfboog van het Jubelpark), was erected in 1905, replacing a previous temporary version of the arcade by Gédéon Bordiau. The structures were built in iron, glass and stone, symbolising Belgium's economic and industrial performance. The surrounding 30 ha (74 acres) park esplanade was full of picturesque gardens, ponds and waterfalls. It housed several trade fairs, exhibitions and festivals at the beginning of the century. In 1930, the government decided to reserve the Cinquantenaire for use as a leisure park.[1]

The Royal Military Museum has been the sole tenant of the northern half of the complex since 1880. The southern half is occupied by the Art & History Museum and Autoworld vintage car museum. The Temple of Human Passions by Victor Horta, a remainder from 1886, and the Great Mosque of Brussels from 1978, are located in the north-western corner of the park (see map below).

Line 1 of the Brussels Metro and the Belliard Tunnel from Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat pass underneath the park, the latter partly in an open section in front of the arch. The nearest metro stations are Schuman to the west of the park, and Merode immediately to the east.


The inauguration of the Cinquantenaire Park at the 1880 National Exhibition. Note the substitute arch, the intact southern Bordiau wing, Quenast Columns and frontmost fountain.
The patriotic celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Belgian independence, Cinquantenaire Park, 16 August 1880

Originally, the area now known as the Cinquantenaire was part of the military exercise ground outside of the city centre, the so-called "Linthout" plains. For the National Exhibition of 1880, the plain was developed as an exhibition centre. The original pavilions of the 1880 exhibition, designed by the architect Gédéon Bordiau, were largely replaced with the arcade designed by Charles Girault in 1904 and the large halls on both sides. Only the glass-constructed Bordiau halls remain from the 1880 structures.

The Cinquantenaire Arcade (French: Arcade(s) du Cinquantenaire, Dutch: Arcade(s) van het Jubelpark) was planned for the exhibition of 1880 and was meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Belgian Revolution. In 1880, only the bases of the memorial arch's columns were completed, and during the exhibition, the rest of the arch was constructed from wooden panels. In the following years, the completion of the monument was the topic of a continuous battle between King Leopold II and the Belgian government, which did not want to spend the money required to complete it. The park was also the site of the Brussels International Exposition (1897), for which the building wings were extended, although the arch was still incomplete.

The original architect was the Belgian Gideon Bordiau, who spent close to 20 years on the project and died in 1904. His successor, chosen by Leopold, was the French architect Charles Girault. Girault changed the design from a single arch to a triple arch, and began a course of round-the-clock construction in a final push to complete it. The sculptors included:

The monument was completed with private funding in 1905, just in time for the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence.

Current tenants and usageEdit

The Cinquantenaire Arch was planned for the National Exhibition of 1880 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence
The esplanade in front of the arch. In the plans mentioned below, the Belliard Tunnel would be enclosed.

Today, the various buildings of the Cinquantenaire host three museums—the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, the Art & History Museum and Autoworld—as well as the Great Mosque of Brussels. The surrounding park esplanade is used for several purposes in the summer, such as military parades[citation needed] and drive-in movies.[2] It is also the starting point for the 20 km of Brussels, an annual run with 30,000 participants.[3]

Military MuseumEdit

At the Brussels International Exposition of 1910, a section on military history was presented to the public and met with great success. Given the enthusiasm of the population, the authorities created a military museum within the international context of extreme tension which led to the Great War.[clarification needed] The museum was originally installed on the site of La Cambre Abbey and moved to the Cinquantenaire Park in 1923.

The museum's collection originally consisted of approximately 900 pieces collected by the officer Louis Leconte following the Great War.[citation needed] Leconte collected considerable equipment abandoned by the Germans in 1918. The collection was later heavily enriched by legacies, gifts and exchanges. Today, the museum displays uniforms, weapons, vehicles and military equipment of all ages and all countries.

The north wing, built by Gideon Bordiau, has been occupied by the aviation hall since 1972, when the Air and Space gallery was inaugurated.[citation needed] The collection includes various types of aircraft, both military and civilian, some dating to the early 20th century, whilst the most recent additions include an F-16 Fighting Falcon and Westland Sea King. The collection as a whole is one of the largest in the world.

Art & History MuseumEdit

The Art & History Museum is an art and history museum which occupies most of the southern part of the complex. It is one of the constituents of the Royal Museums for Art and History (RMAH), which itself is part of the Belgian federal institute of the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO).

The museum consists of several parts, which includes a national collection of artifacts from prehistory to the Merovingian period (c. 751 AD), as well as a collection of artifacts from classical antiquity of the Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Artifacts from non-European civilisations, such as China, Japan, Korea, pre-Columbian America, and the Islamic world, are also on display. Additionally, a collection of European decorative arts includes pieces from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, such as sculptures, furniture, tapestries, textiles, costumes, old vehicles, etc.


Autoworld is a vintage car museum which occupies the southern hall of the complex. It holds a large and varied collection of 350 oldtimers, European and American automobiles from the late 19th century to the 1990s. These include Minervas, a 1928 Bentley, a 1930 Bugatti and a 1930 Cord, and several limousines belonging to the Belgian royal family.

Great Mosque of BrusselsEdit

The Great Mosque of Brussels is the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium.

The Great Mosque of Brussels is located in the north-western corner of the park. It is the oldest mosque in Brussels, and is the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium. The latter operates a school and an Islamic research centre. The centre provides courses of Arabic to adults and children, as well as initiations to Islam.

The original building was constructed in 1880 by architect Ernest Van Humbeeck in an Arabic style, to form the east pavilion of the National Exhibition. For the exhibition, the pavilion housed a monumental fresco, “Panorama of Cairo,” which was a major success. Insufficient funds for maintenance during the period of the world wars caused the building to gradually deteriorate.

In 1967, during an official visit to Belgium from King Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, King Baudouin decided to adapt the building as a place of worship. The mosque, designed by Tunisian architect Mongi Boubaker, was inaugurated in 1978 in the presence of Khalid ibn Abd al-Aziz and Baudouin.


A maquette of the Cinquantenaire complex


The Cinquantenaire is envisioned to be "Europeanised", and its North Hall (pictured) could possibly be turned into a major "socio-cultural facility".

In September 2007, the European Commissioner for Administrative Affairs Siim Kallas, together with Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region Charles Picqué, unveiled plans for rebuilding the European district.[4] They included "Europeanising" parts of the Cinquantenaire complex, and installing a major "socio-cultural facility" in the North Hall, enabled to hold "major congresses and, perhaps, European Summits, events, exhibitions", after moving the Aerospace Museum out to Tour & Taxis in the north of the city. The Cinquantenaire would under the plans become one of three European pedestrian squares, being the one for events and festivities.[5]

Wider development surrounding the complex involves a new metro station called Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark and an underground car park.[citation needed]

In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Cinquantenaire buildings". Autoworld. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
  2. ^ "Drive-In Movies Is Celebrating Its 20th". BrusselsLife. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2008-08-01.
  3. ^ Renseignements généraux Archived October 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "EU promises 'facelift' for Brussels' European quarter". EurActiv. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  5. ^ Brussel Nieuws. Brussel verruimd de horizon[permanent dead link]. Retrieved on 2007-12-11

External linksEdit

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