Rue des Bouchers
Petite rue des Bouchers
Rue des Dominicains
Rue de la Fourche
Rue Grétry

For ages, three "Rue des Bouchers" (butchers' streets) have crossed at this point : the "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.



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 "bouchers" (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 beef).

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 named "La Cracheuse" is 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.

The Flemish 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 Manneken Pis. The statue was made in 1985 on the initiative of a merchant of the Ilot Sacré to support charity work.



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 well.

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 Brel, 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 year.

Nowadays, the most famous place of the Petite Rue des Bouchers is found at the end of the "Impasse Schuddeveld", 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 Grand Place by the troops of Louis XIV in 1695, was entirely restored in 1979.



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 name.

The Rue des Dominicains has always been a lively, mercantile, yet not very middle-class, 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...



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 hotels.

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 28, 1830.



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 aux Suifs".

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 between 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.











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