- Îlot Sacré/Vrije Gemeente
- The Îlot Sacré ("Sacred Islet") district encompasses the maze of narrow streets and tiny lanes centered on rue du Marche aux Herbés, rue des Bouchers, Petite rue des Bouchers, and rue des Dominicains in the central part of the lower town. The names of streets identify the area as originally the poultry dealers' and butchers' quarters.The appellation "Îlot Sacré" was coined by journalist Louis Quiévreux, who, beginning in 1958, fought various property development schemes in this area near the Grand' Place, exhorting officials to preserve its "sacred" character. In March 1960, the city council approved restorative work and prohibited construction of buildings that did not conform to traditional architecture in a perimeter around the Grand' Place bounded by rues Saint-Jean, du Lombard, du Midi, de Tabora, des Fripiers, de l'Écuyer, and d'Arenberg and the boulevard de l'Impératrice. A group calling itself Îlot Sacré was established in August 1960.Several streets are fully—rue des Bouchers—or partially—rue des Brasseurs—pedestrianized. Renowned for its picturesque quality, the district is noted for its bustling shops and cafés and for its restaurants, for which it has been dubbed the "belly" or the "stomach" of Brussels. Recent years have seen an upsurge of upscale residents.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.