The Victor Horta Houses in Brussels

These four houses in the Belgian capital of Brussels have been included on the World Heritage List – but does that mean you can see them?

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


The thing about the architecture of houses is that, for the most part, a casual observer only ever sees the outside.

The whole point of a house, a private residence, is that the interior stays private.

It’s a haven for the occupants, not an exhibition for the public. To protect what goes on behind closed doors, the doors must remain closed.

This means that for people who are interested in architecture, it can be harder than preferred to see the work done inside houses.

It’s unfortunate because there is more than just aesthetics hidden away.

Major Town Houses of Victor Horta, Brussels, Belgium

All around the world, from large cities to rural properties, houses tell us so much about the cultures and societies in which they are built.

This is especially true when you consider the works of the architect Victor Horta in Brussels. His creations in the Belgian capital are the focus of this story.

One great way to see some of the Victor Horta Houses is with this Art Nouveau tour of Brussels.

Think about your city – or one that you have visited recently. It’s highly unlikely that all the houses were built at exactly the same time (unless you live somewhere like Le Havre in France).

It means that you have an archaeology of architecture, in a sense. Just like you could cut down into the ground and see remnants of every era that has come before, the houses in a city show you the development of different stages in history.

Major Town Houses of Victor Horta, Brussels, Belgium

In Brussels, there are four houses that have been listed together as one of Belgium’s World Heritage Sites.

They were all designed by an architect called Victor Horta and they represent an important time in the architecture of the city – the end of the 19th century.

Art Nouveau in Brussels

The houses were part of the beginning of the Art Nouveau movement.

They have an open plan, a diffusion of light, curved lines in the decorations that blend with the overall structure, and great attention to detail.

Whether it’s a staircase, or a doorknob, or a light fitting, or a wall, everything is designed in a certain way so it fits with everything else and is a work of art on its own.

Major Town Houses of Victor Horta, Brussels, Belgium

Or at least, this is what I had to read in my research when I first visited Brussels.

Back then, in 2016, the houses of Victor Horta in Brussels suffered from the problem I described at the start: They are private properties and, with one exception, you couldn’t go inside and see them as a general member of the public.

Thankfully, things have now changed, and three of the four Victor Horta Houses can be visited when you’re in Brussels.

If you are interested in seeing the best of the Art Nouveau in Brussels, I would recommend doing an Art Nouveau tour, like this excellent one.

But if you would prefer to explore independently, you can see the locations of the four World Heritage-listed Victor Horta houses on this map I’ve put together:

I would recommend prioritising the three that are accessible, but check carefully when they’re open so you can play your itinerary appropriately.

If you only have time for one or two, here are my thoughts on each of them.

Victor Horta Museum

The Victor Horta Museum does give you the opportunity to go inside one of the original buildings and get a sense of the design and layout.

Rather than just read about the influence on Art Nouveau architecture, you can see it for yourself.

Rather than just look at each element in books or online, you can feel how they merge together.

Major Town Houses of Victor Horta, Brussels, Belgium

The museum is in the house where Victor Horta once lived and had his workshop. It was built between 1898 and 1901 and is one of the best examples of his work.

The exterior is impressive, while there are so many more details inside, including a collection of furniture and artworks designed by Horta or his Art Nouveau contemporaries.

Even here, though, there are some constraints. The museum has limited opening hours and you can’t take photos inside. So unfortunately I’ve got none to share with you today.

But the Victor Horta Museum is well worth visiting and is a highlight of Brussels.

The Victor Horta Museum is at Rue Américaine 25, 1060, Brussels.
You can see it on a map here.

The Victor Horta Museum is open from Tuesday to Friday from 14:00 – 17:30, and on Saturday to Sunday from 11:00 – 17:30.
Last entrance is at 16:45.

Admission to the Victor Horta Museum is €12. For seniors, the admission is €10. For students 18 years or over, it is €6. For children under 18, it is €3.50.

Hotel van Eetvelde

The Hotel van Eetvelde oozes opulence and that’s probably no surprise when you learn of how it came to be.

It was commissioned by a man called Edmond van Eetvelde, who was the administrator of the Congo Free State and a close ally of King Leopold II. He wanted a family house but he also wanted a huge space for entertaining.

So, putting aside the problem that the construction was probably funded by the horrors the Belgians inflicted in their African colony, this is one of Horta’s most ambitious works.

Major Town Houses of Victor Horta, Brussels, Belgium

The visible use of materials like steel and glass was uncommon then for upper-class homes, so that style was an interesting choice for Horta. Inside, he used domes and skylights to let a lot of light inside.

The Hotel van Eetvelde is only open a few days a week, so try to coordinate a visit with your time in Brussels, if you can.

Hotel van Eetvelde is in the centre of Brussels near Square Ambiorix. The address is Av. Palmerston 4, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium. You can see it on a map here.

Hotel van Eetvelde is open during the following days:
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 10:00 – 17:00

A standard ticket is €12, concession is €8, and children under 6 years are free of charge.

Hotel Solvay

Another grand residential home, Hotel Solvay was built for Armand Solvay, the son of a very wealthy industrialist.

This is another building where no expense was spared, with materials like marble and onyx. Horta designed every little detail from the furniture to the carpets and even the doorbell.

At the front of the building, you can see two symmetric bow windows with balconies. Inside, it seems to glow with red and orange colours throughout.

Major Town Houses of Victor Horta, Brussels, Belgium

Although it’s still a private residence, Hotel Solvay was finally opened up to the public as a museum in 2021, which I’m really happy about because it’s an incredible building.

When you visit, you’ll need to do a tour, which takes about 40 minutes, taking you from the carriage entrance to the Hall of Honour and the other ground floor rooms, before heading to the dining room and the salons on the Bel étage.

Hotel Solvay is about three kilometres south of the Grand Place. The address is Av. Louise 224, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium. You can see it on a map here.

Hotel Solvay is open on Saturdays from 10:00 – 18:00

A standard ticket is €18 and a concession is €13.

Hotel Tassel

The fourth and final of the World Heritage Victor Horta Houses is the Hotel Tassel, which unfortunately is still not open to the public.

It’s the earliest of the houses to be built (from 1892 to 1893) and is considered to be the founding work of Art Nouveau in Brussels, with elements like the steel outside and the use of lots of natural light.

Major Town Houses of Victor Horta, Brussels, Belgium

Although you see Horta’s beautiful Art Nouveau taking shape here, with inspiration from organic forms and a cohesion through the whole building, it is not quite as opulent as his later work.

That’s partly because of who commissioned it – a professor called Emile Tassel who lived alone with his grandmother and did a lot of his scientific work here.

Visiting the Victor Horta Houses in Brussels

The architecture of Victor Horta does stand out from the neighbouring properties and you can start to get an idea of the ingenuity from these facades. But, of course, you’re missing out on really appreciating the genius of Victor Horta.

Going on a tour that focuses on the city’s architecture or heritage will certainly help – this one that focuses on Art Nouveau is great.

But have a look at these other options that also cover some of these buildings:

Most of them won’t take you inside the buildings (certainly not into all of them), so you’ll have to think about whether you want to do that as well.

Something that could work well for you is the Brussels Art Nouveau Pass, which allows you to choose entry to three sites on its list, including Hôtel van Eetvelde and the Horta Museum.

Major Town Houses of Victor Horta, Brussels, Belgium

I have written previously about my feelings on visiting the Stoclet House and how disappointing it is that you can’t go inside.

When I first visited Brussels and you couldn’t go into most of the Victor Horta Houses, that just compounded my frustration, so I’m really pleased to see that it’s become much easier now.

Brussels actually has three World Heritage Sites and it’s very rare to find that many in the one city, let alone two that focus on a specific style of architecture (you could argue the third one, The Grand Place, also has an architecture focus).

It just goes to show how important the development of building design is in the city and how it links so closely with the culture.

If we are to truly appreciate this, we need to be able to see it for ourselves. Brussels has done a good job of protecting the heritage. It now needs to ask whether it can do a better job of showcasing it.


Brussels is not known as a cheap city but there are actually some lovely affordable places if you look beyond the obvious business districts.


For a backpacker option, I would recommend the Sleep Well Youth Hostel.


If you’re looking for a budget hotel, First Euroflat Hotel has nice comfortable rooms.


A great hotel with leisure and country club on site is Aspria Royal La Rasante Hotel & Spa.


And for an absolutely spectacular luxury experience, you can’t go past the Rocco Forte Hotel!


This site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
I'm on a mission to visit as many World Heritage Sites as I can. Only about 800 more to go... eek!

2 thoughts on “The Victor Horta Houses in Brussels”

  1. Two UNESCO sites that are closed off to public? I think Belgium is messing with us, acting like they have buildings with heritage status, but really there’s nothing inside 😉

  2. I just loved reading about the architecture in Brussels in your post, thank you for sharing. I spent a 3 days there a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed walking the streets and seeing the architecture. Your photos are just beautiful too.


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