“On the seventh day, God finished his work of creation, rested and said: ‘There will no longer be any maintenance of the houses and gardens of the dead in the municipality of Uccle!’”
God’s wrath is one possible explanation for the wilderness of this graveyard. Other, more profane theories make mention of negligent maintenance services or of Monuments and Landscapes wanting to protect the site’s rich biodiversity. Whatever it may be, certain is that this 1866 graveyard has slowly grown into a unique jungle since it was closed down in 1958.
Today, only the pathways are cleared from greenery, so that you and I can wander this forlorn necropolis. More than 200 different plant species can be found. They overgrow the dilapidated tombstones, chapels, mausoleums and rusty Jesuses. Some of the wealthiest politicians, architects, bankers, members of the nobility and Jewish families built their final mansions on these grounds – while fashionably keeping to the architectural styles that were in vogue at the time. Nowadays, branches embrace their magnificent funerary art pieces, as if wanting to prevent the beauty of this place from falling apart. Of two grave’s occupants you might have heard before: Georges Remi a.k.a. Hergé, the Belgian cartoonist of the comic albums ‘The Adventures of Tintin‘ and feminist Isabelle Gatti de Gamond.
My final recommendations for one of my favorite hangouts in Brussels? Do enter one of the tombs. Make sure you have a good light with you. And second: don’t forget to enjoy the ride that gets you to the cemetery!