Ixelles facts for kids
La Cambre Abbey in Ixelles.
|• Total||6.34 km2 (2.45 sq mi)|
|Population (January 2010)|
|• Density||12,647/km2 (32,756/sq mi)|
|• Foreigners||39.02% (1 July 2005)|
Ixelles is located in the suburbs towards the south of Brussels' city center and is geographically bisected by the City of Brussels municipality. It is generally considered an affluent area of the city and is particularly noted for its communities of European and Congolese immigrants.
The placename was first mentioned in 1210 as Elsela, from Old Dutch Else(n)lo meaning alder woods. The origins of the village date from the foundation of the Abbey of La Cambre 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. The abbey was consecrated by the Bishop of Cambrai soon after its foundation. Boniface of Brussels and Alice of Schaerbeek 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.
In 1795, like many of the other towns surrounding Brussels, Ixelles was proclaimed a separate municipality 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, leaving only the so-called "Ixelles Ponds", 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.
Images for kids
An Art Nouveau doorway in Ixelles, dating to 1902. Ixelles was a center of Art Nouveau architecture in the first decades of the 20th century.
Ixelles Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.