Exploring Cogels Osylei in Zurenborg

Cogels Osylei in Zurenborg was one of the standout points when I visited Antwerp.
I mean sure, Antwerp may be the city of diamonds and the second biggest harbour of Europe, but would you take a look at those houses!

If you’re wondering what Cogels Osylei is, I should probably explain… It’s a street.
I know, I know. A blog post dedicated to a street—is she for real?
But bear with me because Cogels Osylei is not just a street, it’s a street in Zurenborg which has the most gorgeously eclectic collection of townhouses running along it. Most of which have massive Art Nouveau, neoclassical and fin-de-siècle style influences, and as a result these houses are some of the most stunning I have ever seen.

The houses built along Cogels Osylei were developed between 1894 and 1906 and Zurenborg as a location was unique in Antwerp because it was one of just a few areas which were developed in the 19th century in line with a plan.
Which is more than S and I had when we came to visit Antwerp!

You see, you know how sometimes you go on Facebook and before you know it you’re on your sister’s fiance’s brother’s friend’s auntie’s neighbour’s profile? Well… That’s kind of what happened with S. Except it wasn’t Facebook, it was Google. And it wasn’t anybody’s profile, but an abundance of websites.
I have no idea how S stumbled across it but when we left Antwerp Railway Station he turned to me and said “get in weirdo, I know where we’re going next.” and honestly, is there any sentence more perfect? But I digress. But that’s only because I knew we were onto something. I didn’t know what, but I knew it would be good – because S doesn’t usually get *that* excited so early in the morning!

We started our walk along Cogels Osylei by parking the car and walking up to Maurice Coffee Bar where S grabbed nothing and I grabbed a hot chocolate. Because it was cold and I like calories. Especially when they come in chocolate form.

With my delicious tasting handwarmer in tow, we set off walking around Zurenborg, and when we made it along Cogels Osylei it was pretty hard to walk because I kept tripping over my jaw. Metaphorically of course.
Because Cogels Osylei is stunning.
Honestly – if fashion bloggers think they’re spoilt in London then they’d have a heart attack here!

The house styles are interspersed both in terms of architectural design and the person who designed them, and as a result, you quite literally gawk as you walk along the street. Which is weird. Because it’s a street and these are people’s homes.
But c’ mon… Look at them!

Zurenborg was being developed just as Art Nouveau hit peak popularity and the impact the movement had on the stylistic development of the area shows. But even though Art Nouveau was a heavy influence, other architectural styles such as Gothic Revival, Neoclassical and a hint of British Tudorbethan architecture, are still represented.

I haven’t seen inside the houses so I can’t comment on the interior design but my word, would I love to stay in one. My brain can’t help but concoct images of sweeping staircases and an air of cool I’ll never be able to recreate. I mean imagine staying in this property – the circular balcony makes my eyes so happy.

The houses are like art, with each property being uniquely it’s own. Yet together they work as a masterpiece. Like an art gallery, or a series of portraits: they’re complimentary towards one another yet the diversity of the individuals makes the whole more interesting.

Joseph Bascourt, Jules Hofman, and Frans Smet-Verhas were the wizards who made it happen. I mean some people call them architects, but when you can create something as beautiful as this street it’s hard not to call it magic.

But that magic was almost cut short when Cogels Osylei almost met its premature demise in the 1960s. The properties were deemed too energy consuming to use. The houses were considered too big and so a major plan was made to transform the area and turn it from a residential area, into a business district. But in the end (thankfully) the area was not demolished and instead, it grew popular with creatives and became a well-functioning urban neighbourhood with a variety of personalities living along the street.

And now, people like you and I can walk along it.
With a hot chocolate in hand and our jaws on the floor.
Just wondering what it would be like to live in a place that inspires such joy from one sense.
So if you ask me – the fashion bloggers can keep their London doorsteps because for me – Cogels Osylei is where it is at!

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Have you ever visited Cogels Osylei?
Let me know in the comments!