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Walk: the gardens of the Abbaye de la Cambre

A piece of heaven in the tumult of the city

The gardens of the Abbey of La Cambre are picturesque and steeped in history. Built at the beginning of the 18th century, they are composed of 5 successive terraces. Covering an area of about 5 hectares spread over the territory of the city of Brussels and the municipality of Ixelles. They were designed in the French style around 1720 and restored in the Neo-Renaissance style by the landscape architect Jules Buyssens in 1927.

>>> To get to the starting point of the walk, get off at the Cambre-Étoile stop (tram 7). Then head towards Avenue Emile de Mot to reach the southern part of the gardens. You can start by walking along them.

  • Navigation tip: each circle to the left of a title corresponds to a dot on the map. Click on them to find your way around more easily.
"The tree vault"
London plane (Platanus x hispanica)
- Ixelles

>>> Enter the Gardens through a gate on the right: you already have an interesting view down. Going down the stairs, cross the most geometric part of the park: the so-called "French-style" garden. Halfway down there is a terrace planted with red horse chestnut trees, Aesculus carnea.

"Cat heads"
Red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea)
Abbaye de la Cambre's Gardens - Ixelles

>>> Follow the row of chestnut trees and come across a roundabout composed of common yew trees, and les common box trees....

"French ball"
Common yew (Taxus baccata)
La Cambre Abbey - Ixelles

>>> Take the stairs again to go down one level and make a little detour to have a look at two "curtains of lime trees", two rows, which are also precisely pruned.

"The straight curtain"
Common European linden (Tilia x europaea)
La Cambre Abbey - Ixelles

>>> Continue the visit to the right and towards the basin. On your left you will see two large hybrid plane trees that occupy an entire lawn.

"Column duo"
London plane (Platanus x hispanica)
La Cambre Abbey -

>>> At the basin turn left. You come face to face with two architectures that coexist: two monuments that interact. On the left, you see the old 14th century Abbey church and, on the right, in the middle of a lawn, the lime tree plantation that seems to form a green nave.

"The tree-shaded nave" (2)
Common European linden (Tilia x europaea)
- Ixelles / Elsene

>>> Cross the nave of lime trees lengthwise. Then the path on your left leads you to a last lime tree (Tilia x europaea once again) isolated and raised in the middle of a car park,.like on an altar.

"The tree on pedestal"
Common European linden (Tilia x europaea)
Abbaye de la Cambre's Gardens - Ixelles

>>> Pass under a porch to go to the northern part of the gardens. The style is quite different, with curved paths and a remarkable diversity of plantations. There is a kind of MINI-ARBORETUM with some rarities. The first rarity is directly before your eyes: it is an ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) of the elegantissima variety.

"So elegant"
Common ash, European ash (Fraxinus excelsior)
La Cambre Abbey - Ixelles

>>> Take the central lane and stop at the crossroads. From this central point of view, you can observe a tree with a crutch: it is a common catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), another rarity. It is recognisable by its large leaves and long bean-shaped fruit.

You can also see a Japanese sophora (Styphnolobium japonicum) which is characterized by its light foliage with long leaves, and by its fruit made of fleshy pods.

These two trees are protected by fences in order to reduce soil compaction. This measure would also have benefited the ash tree you saw earlier. These fences also protect the public, as the catalpa has already lost some large branches. And finally, you can see a crutch made of two beams that partially supports the tree crown.

>>> Without moving from there, but on the other side of the path, you will see a strange little dome of greenery: a cozy ginkgo.

Maidenhair tree
Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba)
La Cambre Abbey - Ixelles

>>> Then continue your walk to get out of the gardens. Before leaving, take a look to your left, at the pretty couple of maples on a small hill. The reddish colour of the foliage in summer indicates that they are Acer pseudoplatanus f. purpurascens, a variety of sycamore maple very common in our region. These two trees grew together, each one pointing its crown outwards, as if leaving room for the other: an inseparable pair!

The walk ends at the Square de la Croix Rouge. Enjoy the banks of the Etangs d'Ixelles, another classified site.


dev & design : a.-c.