Anderlecht ( [ˈɑndərˌlɛxt]; [ɑ̃dɛʁlɛkt]) is one of the nineteen municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region. Located in the southwest of the city, it is bordered by the City of Brussels, Dilbeek, Forest, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Saint-Gilles and Sint-Pieters-Leeuw. There are several historically and architecturally distinct districts within the Anderlecht municipality.
On February 1, 2015, the municipality had a population of around 118,414. The total area is 17.74 km² which gives a population density of 6,610 inhabitants per km².
The first traces of human activity on the right bank of the Senne date from the Stone Age and Bronze Age. The remnants of a Roman villa and of a Frankish necropolis were also found on the territory of Anderlecht. The first mention of the name Anderlecht, however, dates only from 1047 under the forms Anrelech, then Andrelet (1111), Andreler (1148), and Anderlech (1186). At that time, this community was already home to a chapter of canons and to two feudal manors, those of the powerful lords of Aa and of Anderlecht.
In 1356, Louis of Male, Count of Flanders fought against Brussels on the territory of Anderlecht, in the so-called Battle of Scheut, supposedly over a monetary matter. Although he defeated his sister-in-law, Joanna, Duchess of Brabant, and briefly took her title, she regained it the following year with the help of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. In 1393, Joanna’s charter made Anderlecht a part of Brussels. It is also around this time that the church of Saint Guido was rebuilt above the earlier Romanesque crypt in the Brabant Gothic style.
The city of Anderlecht became a beacon of culture in the 15th and 16th century. In 1521, Erasmus lived in the canons’ house for a few months. Charles, Duke of Aumale and Grand Veneur of France also had a residence here.
The 17th and 18th century were marked by the wars between the Low Countries and France. On November 13, 1792, right after the Battle of Jemappes, General Dumouriez and the French Revolutionary army routed the Austrians here once again. Among the consequences were the disbanding of the canons and Anderlecht being proclaimed an independent commune by the French.
The 19th century saw a remarkable population growth, mainly because of the proximity to a rapidly expanding Brussels. Remarkable new urban developments and garden cities such as La Roue/Het Rad and Moortebeek were built at the beginning of the 20th century to house the influx of newcomers. Today, the name Anderlecht rings a bell in every Belgian ear thanks to its very successful football club.The Collegial Church of Saint Peter and Saint Guido is still at the centre of the municipality. It contains the grave of the 11th century saint Guy of Anderlecht. Its Romanesque crypt dates from the 10th century and is one of the oldest in Belgium. Most of the church, however, dates from 1350 and later, with most of the currently visible architecture representing the Ogee style (15th-16th century). Construction of the tower started in 1517 but stopped with the square part up to the balcony; it was not completed until 1898.
Right next to the church, the old beguinage is home to a local historical museum.
The Erasmus House, built in 1458, and its medicinal garden can be visited nearby.
The National Museum of the Resistance, which traces the history of the Belgian resistance and German occupation of Belgium during World War II.
The Museum of China - Scheut, which houses documents and pieces, brought back to Europe by the congregation of Scheut's missionaries, including a 15th-century bronze Buddha.
The Maurice Carême Museum, where the Belgian poet lived and wrote.
The Luizenmolen, a replica of an old windmill which once stood on the site.
Anderlecht is the location of the Cureghem Cellars (Kelders van Cureghem in Dutch or Caves de Cureghem in French), a subterranean complex of handmade brick caves with Romanesque vaults, pillars, and arches, originally the site of a cattle market covered by a forged-iron roof construction in the 1890s. The cellars were simply a foundation for the upper structure until the 1930s, after which the city council decided to make better use of them. It proved more profitable to grow mushrooms in the dark and damp underground spaces for local consumption. It fell into disuse as a cattle market but in 1984 the hall officially got listed as a Belgian monument. Due to its characteristic architecture and unique layout it was refurbished and transformed by a private company, Abattoir SA. Since 1992 it serves as an attractive and functional event site for various private, corporate or public occasions and events. One of these was the anatomic exposition 'Body Worlds' (Körperwelten) by Dr. Gunther Von Hagens which ran in the cellars between 2008 and 2009 and attracted over 500.000 visitors.
Anderlecht also houses the Cantillon Brewery - a gueuze museum established in an actual working brewery.
The Museum of Medicine, located on the ULB-Erasmus campus.
The Jean-Claude Van Damme statue located on the Boulevard Sylvain Dupuis, near the Westland Shopping Center.
The annual Anderlecht fair, originally a cattle fair, was authorized by William II of the Netherlands in 1825. Since then, it has taken the form of a series of celebrations, which still include animal shows but also outdoors exhibitions, a floral show, and the recreation of a religious procession in honor of Saint Guido.The Abattoirs of Anderlecht in Cureghem is the main slaughterhouse in Brussels.
The Delhaize Group, which operates many supermarket chains, has its head office in Anderlecht.
Coca-Cola Benelux has its headquarters in Anderlecht.
The Belgian chocolate company Leonidas has its headquarters in Anderlecht.
Joseph Bracops Hospital
St-Anne St-Remi Clinic
Anderlecht is the home of the football club RSC Anderlecht, the most successful Belgian football team in European competition as well as in the Belgian First Division with 33 titles. The club's home stadium is the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, located within the Astrid Park. The team colors are white and purple.
Green spaces in the commune include:Astrid Park
Parc Forestier/Bospark in Scheut
Joseph Lemaire Park
Jean Vives Park
Parc des étangs/Vijverspark in Neerpede
Parc de la rosée/Dauwpark in Cureghem
Vogelenzang, a natural protected area
Guy of Anderlecht (ca 950-1012), known as the Poor Man of Anderlecht, patron saint of Anderlecht
Adrian VI (1459-1523), pope, theologian, rector at the University of Leuven, canon at the Chapter of Anderlecht, lived in Anderlecht.
Joseph Bracops (1900-1966), politician and mayor
Jacques Brel, singer. He lived from 1942 to 1951 at 7, Jacques Manne Street, and worked from 1946 to 1953 in the family cartonery Vanneste & Brel (now SCA Packaging) at 18, Verheyden Street. A metro station located in the municipality is named after him.
Maurice Carême (1899–1978), poet
Fernand Dineur (1904-1956), cartoonist
Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), humanist and theologian
Désiré Keteleer (1920-1970), cyclist
Filip Peeters (born 1962), Flemish actor
Germaine Schneider (1903-1945), Belgian-Swiss resistance fighter
Henri Seroka (born 1949), composer
Henri Simonet (1931-1996), politician and mayor
Jacques Simonet (1963-2007), politician and mayor
Philippe Thys (1889-1971), cyclist and three-time champion of the Tour de France
Tonia (born 1947), singer
Toots Thielemans, jazz musician, lived in Anderlecht.
William Vance (born 1935), comic book artist
Constant Vanden Stock (1914-2008), entrepreneur, footballer and functionary
Régine Zylberberg (born 1929), chanson singer, actress and nightclub entrepreneur
Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant (born 2001), Duchess of Brabant, the oldest child of the Belgian king Philippe; heiress
The princes Gabriel and Emmanuel and Princess Eleonore; 2nd, 3rd and 4th in line to the throne of Belgium, were born in Anderlecht.
Anderlecht is twinned with: Boulogne-Billancourt, France
London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, United Kingdom
In addition, the municipality of Anderlecht has signed a friendship agreement with: Sainte-Maxime, France