Congress Column

Congress Column
Native name
Colonne du Congrès (French)
Congreskolom (Dutch)

Front view of the Independence Column
Location Brussels, Belgium
Coordinates 50°51′0″N 4°21′48″E / 50.85000°N 4.36333°E / 50.85000; 4.36333Coordinates: 50°51′0″N 4°21′48″E / 50.85000°N 4.36333°E / 50.85000; 4.36333
Area 1.63 a (1,750 sq ft)
Elevation 47 m (154 ft)
Inaugurated by King Leopold I
Built 1850-1859
Built for commemoration of the National Congress of Belgium
Restored 2008
Architect Joseph Poelaert
Architectural style(s) Neoclassicism
(Victory column in Corinthian style)
Owner Belgian government

The Congress Column (French: Colonne du Congrès; Dutch: Congreskolom) is a monumental column situated on the Place du Congrès / Congresplein in Brussels, Belgium which commemorates the creation of the Constitution by the National Congress between 1830-31. It was erected on the initiative of Charles Rogier, according to a design by Joseph Poelaert, between 1850 and 1859 and was inspired by Trajan's Column in Rome.[1] At the top of the column is a statue of Belgium's first monarch, King Leopold I, and the pedestal is surrounded by statues personifying the four freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution while the Belgian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at the foot of the column.

The column was restored from 2002 to 2008.[2]


The column, with the statue of King Leopold I surmounting it included, has a total height of 47 metres (154 ft).[3] A spiral staircase of 193 stairs in the interior of the column leads to a platform surrounding the pedestal of the statue of Leopold I.[4]

The statue of Leopold was made by Guillaume Geefs. The important dates in the struggle for Belgian independence are engraved on the pedestal of the column, together with the names of the members of the National Congress and the Provisional Government and important passages from the liberal Belgian constitution of 1832. The four sitting statues surrounding the pedestal represent the major constitutional liberties; the 'Liberty of Union' by Charles Fraikin, the 'Liberty of Worship' by Eugène Simonis, the 'Liberty of the Press' and the 'Liberty of Education' both by Joseph Geefs.[5] Two monumental bronze lions by Eugène Simonis are placed in front of the monument.[6] In 2007, during Storm Kyrill, the statue of 'Liberty of the Press' was blown down and later restored.

The first stone was laid down in presence of King Leopold I on 24 September 1850[7] and was inaugurated on 26 Septembre 1859.[8] In 1929, the Congress Column was the site of an attempted assassination of Crown Prince Umberto of Italy by Fernando de Rosa.

Monument to the Unknown Soldier

As a memorial to the Belgian victims of World War I, an unknown soldier was buried at the foot of the monument on 11 November 1922. This unknown soldier was selected out of five unidentified soldiers from different battle sites by Raymond Haesebrouck, a veteran blinded in battle.[9] The tomb is surmounted by an eternal flame. After World War II, a second memorial plaque was added to the monument to honour the Belgian victims. In 1998, a third memorial plaque was dedicated to the Belgian soldiers killed in the service of peace since 1945.

See also


  1. Stappaerts 1860, p. 45.
  2. Régie des Bâtiments (10 April 2009). "Colonne du Congrès". (in French). Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  3. Stappaerts 1860, p. 6.
  4. Stappaerts 1860, p. 43.
  5. Stappaerts 1860, p. 37.
  6. Stappaerts 1860, p. 44.
  7. Stappaerts 1860, p. 91.
  8. Stappaerts 1860, p. 71.
  9. "Un grand bourgmestre et la ville qu'il aima" (in French). Europeana. 1939. Retrieved 2014-01-28.The oldest film material in this movie (9:03 - 9:49 min), is about the burial of the coffin of the Unknown Soldier at the monument to the Congress Column on November 11, 1922.
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