Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Magic of Orchids

Visiting the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg has been on my To Do list since my first trip to Brussels in May 2010. Its striking green copper dome can be seen from miles away, which is no surprise since it's one of the largest churches in the world. Construction began in 1935 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence (completed in 1970) so it's newer and stands out among the Gothic cathedrals around. What finally drew me to this huge Art Deco monument? My weakness: Flowers! The basilica is so large that it holds exhibitions throughout the year. My friend Alison from and I enjoyed "The Magic of Orchids" which is on display until mid-March. We viewed deep purple Vandas, mutlicolored Cattleyas, speckled Phalaenopsis, yellow Paphiopedilum, coral-colored Phragmipedium, beautiful Selenipedium and Cypripedium, chocolate Cymbidiums, and the variety I'm most familiar with, Dendrobiums. These orchids are featured in a number of "magical" ways (suspended in the air, in creative tablescapes, around a make-shift kasbah, and on a sailboat) and are worthy of a visit, especially when combined with the panoramic view of Brussels from the cupola platform.