For ages, three
"Rue des Bouchers" (butchers' streets) have crossed at this point :
"longue" (long) Rue des Bouchers, that became "Rue des
Bouchers" in 1853; the
"petite" (short) Rue des Bouchers, that has kept its name until this
day, and the "Rue des Bouchers", that became "Petite Rue des
Dominicains" in 1815 and "Rue des Dominicains" in 1851.
RUE DES BOUCHERS
The present Rue des Bouchers is called
"Vicus Carificum" in a document from the archives of Saint-Gudule
Cathedral, dating from 1294. In 1364, it is mentioned in Flemish as
"Vleeshouwersstrate". In the Middle Ages it was inhabited by
pork butchers, sausage merchants, tripe butchers and maybe a few authorised
(originally, the "bouchers" were allowed to sell only "bouc" (goat) and
mutton, whilst only the "Grand Boucherie", located behind the "Maison du Roi", until its collapse in 1917, was allowed to sell
The Rue des Bouchers still has lots of beautiful stepped gables and
curls, and ancient doors mostly dating from the 17th century. At the end of the
street, near number 58, a narrow passage leads to the "Résidence
Centrale", an oasis of unexpected silence. The elegant bronze fountain
from Idel Ianchelevici.
At number 70
was settled the splendid little "Musée de la Serrurerie" (locksmith
museum), where the late Guillaume Dehaen, the former treasurer of the Ilot Sacré, had gathered
the most splendid objects of his collections. Number 53 still houses the shop that was established by Xavier
Lauffer, a refugee from the Alsace, in 1871. The most famous restaurant of the Rue des Bouchers can be found on number
13, "Aux Armes de Bruxelles", an old tavern that was bought by Calixte Veulemans in 1921. From that date, the
restaurant is managed by the same family.
singer Jean de Baets
made the Rue des Bouchers famous with his fifteen-stanza song "In de rue des
Bouchers" in the 20's. This street also sheltered the "Stuart", an eclectic cinema that was inaugurated by Anna
Neagle, the star of the film Queen Victoria, in
1930. Unfortunately, this building was demolished after the Second World
War, to give way to the enlargement of a bank of the Rue d'Arenberg.
Between numbers 10 and 12, at the end of the
"Impasse de la Fidélité", visitors can take a look at the statue of
Jeanneke Pis, the female and more realistic equivalent of the famous
Pis. The statue was made in 1985 on the initiative of a merchant of the Ilot Sacré to support charity
PETITE RUE DES BOUCHERS
Already in 1366, this street was mentioned as
"Cleyn Vleeshouversstraete". However, in the 17th century, it was named
"Crantje Straetje" (tap street). In the 17th century it was sometimes called "Rue du Cornet" as
At the beginning of the 19th century, a lot of tripe butchers came to this street, after a
prefectorial order of
the year X (revolutionary calendar) had expelled them out of the "Marché aux
Tripes" (the tripe market, which became an extension of the herbs market).
The street still has
today about twelve houses dating from the 17th and 18th century. During the "Belle Époque"
(Edwardian era), the street sheltered more small music-halls than restaurants. On the first floor of number 30, there was the jazz-club "La Rose Noire", where Jacques
the famous Belgian singer, had his first successes in 1953. Unfortunately,
for safety reasons, this successful cabaret had to close its doors in 1961. The building was bought by the restaurant "Les Armes de
Bruxelles" in 1963 and was used as the restaurant's kitchen the next
Nowadays, the most famous place of the Petite Rue des Bouchers is found at the end of the
which leads to the "Theatre de Marionnettes de Toone". It was José Géal, also known as Toone VII, who installed it there in 1966.
This building, that was constructed one year after the bombing of Brussels
by the troops of Louis XIV in 1695, was entirely restored in 1979.
RUE DES DOMINICAINS
The "Rue des Dominicains" was laid out on the gardens of the Dominicans at the beginning of the 18th
century. These monks had their convent in the "Rue de l'Ecuyer" that was called Rue des Dominicains in those
days, whereas the new street was originally called Rue des Bouchers.
Gradually the people of the neighborhood began to call the little street facing the entrance of the convent of the Dominicans monks the
"Petite Rue des Dominicains". As the convent was demolished in 1797, the French began to call it the "Rue de la Démolition". In 1815
however, it was again officially called Petite Rue des Dominicains to commemorate the
monks. Finally in 1851 the word "petite" (short) was let out and the street received its present
The Rue des Dominicains has always been a lively, mercantile, yet not
street. At "Restaurant
Vincent", on numbers 8-10,
one can still admire the walls covered with painted ceramics carried out by
Célestin Helman in 1913. The detailed tariffs from those
days are still visible, but unfortunately you can't enjoy anymore a good meal for
only a few Belgian francs...
RUE DE LA FOURCHE
As early as 1368, this street was called
"Gripstraete" or "Grijpstraete". "Grijp" means fork in
Flemish ("fourche" in French), but the word "grip" rather designates the heraldic
griffin that can be seen on ancient coins. The street is located at the heart of the Ilot Sacré and has always had a great number of cafés, restaurants and small
In 1909, the numbers 17 and 19 housed the "Grand Hotel des Négociants". There still is a hotel at this
address, built shortly after the Second World War. At number 41 of the Rue de la Fourche once was the café
"A l'Aigle d'Or", where the second version of the Belgian national
anthem, "La Brabançonne", was sung by its composer François Van
Campenhout, a star of numerous Opera stages, on September
This street, edged with beautiful houses dating from the 19th century, was laid
out dead straight in 1873. It came instead of two old streets that
followed the same course : the "Rue de la Coupe" and the "Rue
The "Copstraet" was a right angle street of which one branch started
from the "Rue Marché aux Poulets" (chickens market) and led to
the north on the axis of the present Boulevard
Anspach. The other branch
went in the sense of the present Rue Grétry, leading to the west and
ending in the middle of the former "Marché au Poisson" (fish
market) that went along the right bank of the Senne river.
The Rue aux Suifs (tallow's street) was the beginning of the Rue Grétry at
the side of the Rue de la Fourche. In 1795, it was laid out on the ruins
of the convent of the Madelonnettes, between the "Rue des Fripiers"
(clothes dealers street) and the Rue de la Fourche. In the middle of its
course there was a square that was successively called "Marché aux
Veaux et Volailles" (veal and poultry market), "Marché aux
Abats" (offal market) and finally the new "Marché aux Peaux"
(leather market) around 1835.
A prefectorial order dating from 1799 gave those places the names of "Rue
des Veaux" and "Place des Veaux" (veal street and
square). The City of Brussels re-baptized both streets as "Nouveau
Marché aux Veaux" (new veal market) in 1835. In 1851, the small
street received the distinct name of Rue aux
Suifs. In the 1860s it was
completely demolished to make way for the oldest part of the Rue Grétry.
As the great central boulevard was laid out at the end of the vaulting of
the Senne river between 1868 and 1871, the initial section was prolonged
as far as the boulevard, right across the Rue de la Coupe which became
part of it.
In the Rue Grétry, under the great portal in wrought iron that rose
the two wings of the covered market, there used to be the most famous
entertainment place of Brussels : "Le Pôle Nord - Palais d'Été".
Nowadays, you will find a parking on this location. The north wing
of the covered market was transformed into an ice-rink in 1893, using the
important freezing-machines that were necessary to store the goods in the
cellars of the two markets. Each spring, this ice-rink was transformed
into an artistic cabaret with 2000 seats, where magnificent music-hall
spectacles were held.
MONT DES ARTS
RUE MARCHE AUX HERBES
RUE AU BEURRE
PLACE DE LA BOURSE