Brussels boasts one of the oldest covered shopping galleries in the world, but it isn’t this one. That one is very famous and full of expensive shops. This one, however, was built by the same architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer a few years later. While the famous one retains an air of sophistication, the younger sister languished for years in obscurity and neglect. Not that I’m complaining. The lower rents allowed Galerie Bortier to fill with secondhand bookshops, rare books, prints and antiquities. In short, a booklover’s paradise. I love the combination of old books in an old gallery and I always wander in if I have some time to kill in the centre (it’s right next to the station).
The city of Brussels has finally realised the potential of this beautiful, overlooked gallery and is attempting to bring more life to it. As well as its myriad bookshops and stalls, the gallery can now boast a contemporary at gallery. B-Gallery, run by the municipality, dedicates 3 weeks to a solo exhibition by a young, upcoming artist. Definitely worth checking out as you peruse the books.