Situated at the centre of the Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels, Belgium, Arcade du Cinquantenaire or The Arch of Cinquantenaire is a magnificent and monumental triple arch, built in celebration of the Belgium Kingdom’s golden jubilee in 1880.
Initially the park area was a part of the military exercise ground outside of the centre of the city. In an effort to make Brussels greener, Leopold II commissioned to develop it and build the Cinquantenaire Park at the end of the 19th Century. The arch was also his brainchild. It was designed by the eminent Belgian architect Gedeon Bordiau for the National Exhibition of 1880 and was also meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the independence of Belgium.
However, during the exhibition, only the base of the column was completed and the rest of the arch was constructed of wooden panels. During the following years King Leopold II had to fight continuously with the Belgian government, which was reluctant to spend money for the completion of the monument. During Brussels International Exposition in 1897, though the building wings were extended, the arch remained as it was.
The Belgian architect Gedeon Bordiau, who was associated with the project for about twenty years, died in 1904 and his responsibilities were shifted to a French architect Charles Girault. He changed the original design and replacing the original plan of a single arch, designed a triple arcade. However, Bordiau's idea of the Quadriga was retained. The foundation of the revised arch was laid down on 4 January 1905 and thus began a continuous course of round-the-clock construction in a final push to complete it.
The basic construction was completed in May of the same year and the arch was ceremonially inaugurated by Leopold II on 27 September 1905. The massive arch is crowned with a beautiful bronze sculpture of a Quadriga (chariot drawn by four horses) with a woman charioteer, representing Brabant (a province of Belgium from 1830 to 1995) raising the national flag. The Quadriga was sculptured by Thomas Vincotte, while Jules Lagae created the mighty horses. Subsequently, the interior was decorated with mosaic by Jean Delville, along with others, which was completed in 1932.
The enormous Cinquantenaire park is comprised of a vast set of gardens dotted with monuments and museums. The spectacular U-shaped complex which dominates the park was commissioned by the Belgian government under the patronage of King Leopold II. The magnificent Neo Classical arch with an unbeatable sweeping view over the whole of Brussels is the centerpiece and houses three rich museums - the Cinquaintenaire Museum, the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces & of Military History and the Auto World Museum - with the serene Jubilee Park spread out in the front, ornamented with picturesque gardens, ponds and waterfalls.