Belgium’s Glorious Temple Of Cars Honors The Best From Italy
Story and Photography by Edoardo Mascalchi
I was recently in Brussels, the Belgian capital, where I spent time at a car museum of great interest: Autoworld. Dedicated to the world of cars, it’s a private museum that leases space inside the wonderful monument called the Cinquantenaire, meaning the space inside is more like a period motor show than car museum.
The museum is open almost 365 days a year, and its history begins, really, when King Leopold II asked the architect Gédéon Bordiau to create a park in a large abandoned military training camp.
The project consisted of two big buildings (now occupied by Autoworld, the Museum of History and the War Museum, all definitely worth visiting) connected by two semi-circular colonnades, with a triumphal arch in the center. The park has grown over the years, and is probably an attraction named “Cinquantenaire Park” in your GPS. You’re welcome.
Why visit? Well, the first reason is definitely the number of cars shown (changing during the year as well), the second, perhaps more interesting, is how much a visitor is able to discover in a guided tour, from the auto industry’s origins to the present day.
It starts from the 17th century with the discovery of the steam engine, passing to the Belle Époque of the late 1800s, and then the two World Wars until the year 2000. A real time travel, to be observed calmly inside a modern and well-crafted setting.
I’m here because of a temporary exhibit called Italian Car Passion, an exhibition dedicated to Italian cars. On the second floor, you can have the feeling of being in a real Italian “piazza”, with a wine bar and little streets surrounded by cars like the Lamborghini Miura or the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante, that have made history.
No detail is left unnoticed: all the speakers help to recreate the atmosphere in the air, releasing voices and sounds; in fact, you can hear children laughing, people talking, so all of your senses are stimulated to evoke an Italian atmosphere. The icing on the cake is a small room dedicated to modern supercars and hypercars, all under a lightbox to help visitors capture the best possible photos.
If you’d like to visit, Italian Car Passion is on until January 31, 2016.