Le Cercle Royal Gaulois

The “Cercle royal Gaulois Artistique & Littéraire” originated in 1847 with the creation of the “Cercle Artistique & Littéraire”. Adolphe Quételet (1796-1874) was its first president. A mathematician, astronomer, founder of the Royal Observatory of Belgium and father of modern statistics, he was also a poet, a man of culture and a great lover of art and literature.

The Cercle is the heir of a long tradition born in Paris in the 17th century, that of the literary salons which periodically brought together aristocrats and bourgeois who shared a taste for Fine Arts and Literature. “Tenir salon” was the term used at the time to describe this practice. As in Versailles, the art of polite conversation was cultivated. In the 18th century, these salons became institutionalised as literary societies – several still exist in Belgium – or artistic and literary circles. In the nineteenth century, they took on traditions inherited from their English cousins: gentlemen’s clubs.

Since the second half of the 19th century, the Gaulois has been located in the Parc de Bruxelles, in the former Vauxhall buildings just behind the Théâtre du Parc. These buildings, most of which are listed, date back to the 18th century and were extended several times in the early 19th and 20th centuries. They include vast reception rooms as well as a concert and ballroom named “Salle des Caryatides” in reference to the splendid female statues attributed to the sculptor François Rude. Many famous personalities have haunted these premises, from Napoleon Bonaparte to Bill Gates…

By its vocation, its history and its location, the Cercle Royal Gaulois is a natural haven for music. The greatest performers have played the works of the greatest composers here. It was therefore only natural that the Cercle agreed to support the FestiVita! project by opening its doors to its musicians and the public. May they feel welcomed here.

Marc Seminckx,
Head of Fine Arts and Belles Lettres