Weather :

Timings : Summer: 9 am to 6 pm; Winter: 10 am to 5 pm.

Time Required : 30-40 minutes

Entry Fee : Basílica: Free entry; Climbing the dome: Adults: EUR 5

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Brussels Overview

The Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Cœur is dedicated to the Sacred Heart, inspired by its counterpart in Paris. Constructed as a homage to the Belgian independence movement, the first stone of the Basilica were laid on the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence by King Leopold II in 1905. Popularly known as the Koekelberg Basilica, the structure is spread over Parc Elisabeth, atop the Koekelberg Hill.

Its width of 167 m makes Brussels’ Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the fifth largest church in the world. An architectural masterpiece of the twentieth century, the church fuses two unlikely styles: neo-Gothic and Art Deco. The construction of the church was done in phases, halted due to the two World Wars and finished in its present form only in 1971.

The first thing that draws attention is the massive green dome contrasted with the red terracotta stones of the church. With one of the most beautiful views of the city, the Cathedral’s observation deck stands 53 m tall. Dominating the Northwestern skyline of Brussels, the platform can be accessed either by stairs or the two elevators commissioned by 2012, in the form of a cage and two fully glazed cabins.

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Mass at Basilica of the Sacred Heart

There's a mass every week day at 9:00 AM in French on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and in Dutch on Wednesdays. 

On Sunday mass commences at 10:00 AM (French) and 11:30 AM (bilingual French Dutch)

Architecture of Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Basilica of the Sacred Heart, inside, chapel
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The parish church is constructed in an incredible melee of the elegant neo-Gothic and art nouveau styles. Leuven-based architect Pierre Langerock idealised the initial project, inspired by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc's ideal church. The rest of the Basilica was completed by architect Albert Van Huffel. He was awarded the great architecture prize at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris for his work.

The largest Art Deco style parish in the world, the structure combines reinforced concrete with terracotta layering. The church can accommodate over 35,000 people and has two organs between 1959 and 1965, respectively. The beautiful stained glass work depicted the life of Jesus and was painted by famous Belgian artist Anto Carte.

History of Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Initially visualised as a Panthéon dedicated to Great Belgians, to commemorate the wishes of King Leopold I to turn the uninhabited Koekelberg hill into a royal residence area, his son—King Leopold II eventually abandoned the idea due to the lack of enthusiasm from the population. When the King visited the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Paris in 1902, he decided to dedicate a national sanctuary to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

two towers, basilica of the sacred heart, brussels
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While the initial project was inspired by the idea of an ‘ideal cathedral’, to be built in a neo-Gothic style, the lack of funds when World War I broke out brought the construction to a halt. The half finished church was consecrated by Cardinal Jozef-Ernest van Roey with special authorisation from Pope Pius XI. But only in 1970 was the construction of the cupola and the rest of the church finished.

How To Reach Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Brussels

  1. Metro: Simonis (Leopold II), lines 2 and 6.
  2. Tram: Bossaert-basilique, line 19.
  3. Bus: Riethuisen, lines 49 and 87.

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