Watermael-Boitsfort  (French)
Watermaal-Bosvoorde  (Dutch)

The town hall, built in 1845[1]


Coat of arms

Location in Belgium

Coordinates: 50°48′N 04°25′E / 50.800°N 4.417°E / 50.800; 4.417Coordinates: 50°48′N 04°25′E / 50.800°N 4.417°E / 50.800; 4.417
Country Belgium
Community Flemish Community
French Community
Region Brussels
Arrondissement Brussels
  Total 12.93 km2 (4.99 sq mi)
Population (1 January 2016)[2]
  Total 24,619
  Density 1,900/km2 (4,900/sq mi)
Postal codes 1170
Area codes 02
Website www.watermael-boitsfort.be

Watermael-Boitsfort (French) or Watermaal-Bosvoorde (Dutch)[lower-alpha 1] is a residential suburb of the city of Brussels in Belgium which is one of the 19 municipalities which form the Brussels-Capital Region.

The municipality has a total area of 13 square kilometres (5.0 sq mi) of which 58 percent is covered by the Sonian Forest (Forêt de Soignes or Zoniënwoud). It borders the municipalities of Uccle, Auderghem and Ixelles as well as the province of Flemish Brabant. In 2006 the municipality had a total population of 24,056.


The modern-day municipality of Watermael-Boitsfort was originally two separate settlements located on a plain between the two small rivers of Woluwe and Watermaelbeek to the north of the Sonian Forest.[3] The earliest evidence of human activity in the region is the remains of a small fortified neolithic village of the Michelsberg culture, dating to between 3500-2500 BC.[4]

The Church of St Clement, of which the tower dates to the 11th century

The earliest mention of the name Watermael is in a document of 914 bequeathing an estate of the name to a French abbey.[lower-alpha 2][4] Originally part of the estate of Watermael, Boitfort became separate after a hunting lodge, on a site adjacent to the forest, was given to the Boutsvoord family by the Duchy of Brabant in the 13th century.[6] During the Middle Ages, inhabitants of the two settlements farmed and raised cattle and a number of hunting lodges on the edge of the forest were built for members of the nobility.[7] The construction of a road to the city of Brussels, to the north, through Boitsfort led to the rapid expansion of both settlements. The population of Watermael rose from 349 inhabitants in 1709 to 826 in 1800.[7]

Watermael-Boitsfort was created in 1811 during the period of French rule when the two municipalities were merged.[7] Although several industries grew in the area during the 19th century, Watermael-Boitsfort remained largely agrarian and increasingly residential, especially after the municipality was linked to Brussels by railway in 1854.[8] It soon became a fashionable, bourgeois neighbourhood. Originally Dutch was the dominant language, but French became dominant after 1920.[9] During the 1920s, two garden cities (cité-jardins), Le Logis and Floréal, were built. The municipality's population hit an all-time peak of 25,138 inhabitants in 1970.[10]

Watermael-Boitsfort's first mayor was the liberal Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen, known for his role in the creation of the Free University of Brussels, who held the post between 1820 and 1842.[10]

Notable historic buildings in the municipality include the Church of St Clement of which parts date to the 11th century.[11]

Economy and demographics

View of houses in Boitsfort

Watermael-Boitsfort is one of Brussels' wealthiest municipalities. In 2002, the average per capita income was 30,100 euros; over 600 euros higher than the average for the Brussels-Capital Region as a whole.[9] 16 percent of its inhabitants were not Belgian citizens; lower than the Brussels average.[9]

Since 2000, the municiple government is dominated by the liberal Mouvement Réformateur, regionalist DéFI (formerly FDF), and green Ecolo parties.[12] The current bourgmestre (mayor) is Olivier Deleuze of Ecolo.

There are two railway stations located within the municipality, Watermael railway station and Boitsfort railway station, both of which are located on railway line 161.

The International School of Brussels (ISB), founded in 1951, is located in Watermael-Boitsfort.[13]


Boitsfort is home to Boitsfort Rugby Club, one of Belgium's most successful Rugby Union teams. It is also home to football team Royal Racing Club de Boitsfort.

The Boitsfort Hippodrome was a horse-racing course, built in 1875 but no longer in use. Since 1987, the centre of the course has been occupied by the Brussels Golf Club which has a nine-hole course.

Notable inhabitants

Notable people who have lived or worked in Watermael-Boitsfort include:

Twin cities

The municipality is twinned with:


  1. In archaic Dutch, "Bosvoorde" is rendered Boschvoorde.
  2. It has been suggested that the name Watermael derives from the Frankish word "water" and "depression in the land" (mahlo).[5]



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