Ixelles and the beginning of Avenue Louise
Ixelles Travel Blog› entry 127 of 354 › view all entries
Being able to bike at Place Stéphanie, is amazing. This place is wellknown for traffic and shopping. When you pass Place Stéphanie, you can normally only walk a long the street.
After Pl. Stéphanie Avenue Louise becomes a much trafficked road with four lanes with trees and trams in the middle so you don't cross unless you use the pedestrian street. The street ends by Bois de la Cambre . A bit further than halfway located in the roundabout at King's Garden, you can’t miss Olivier Strebelle's 16-ton bronze sculpture "Le Phénix 44" which commemorates the anniversary of the liberation of Brussels.
The construction of Avenue Louise was commissioned in 1847 as a monumental avenue bordered by chestnut trees that would allow easy access to the popular recreational area of the Bois de la Cambre. It was also to be the first Haussmann-esque artery of the city. The name was chosen in honor of King Leopold II's eldest daughter, Princess Louise-Marie.
However, fierce resistance to the project was put up by the town of Ixelles (which was then still separate from Brussels) through whose land the avenue was supposed to run. After years of fruitless negotiations, Brussels finally annexed the narrow band of land needed for the avenue plus the Bois de la Cambre itself in 1864. That decision accounts for the unusual shape of today's City of Brussels and for Ixelles being split in two separate parts
The 250-meter long part of Avenue Louise between the Louise and Stephanie squares is called "le goulet Louise", or "the Louise bottleneck". With several tramway lines and thousands of cars sharing this very narrow segment of the avenue, huge traffic jams during rush hours occur here daily. The problem was already obvious in the early 1980s, so a tram tunnel under the bottleneck was built along with the metro station on Louise Square. However, construction was abandoned toward its end due to protests of local businesses fearing losses if patrons were to be diverted through a tunnel.