Stoclet House, Belgium
Unlike most UNESCO World Heritage sites, Belgium's famous Stoclet House can only be admired from afar, unfortunately. It's been in the Stoclet family since its creation in 1911 after Adolphe Stoclet commissioned some of the most innovative artists and architects to build it. It inspired some of the most famous artistic and architectural movements. Still, the Stoclets chose to live in privacy, not in an art museum. That doesn't mean you can't travel to sneak a peek of it from behind its gates, though.
The House Embodies Two Movements
In 1905, Adolphe Stoclet spared no expense when he commissioned a house to be built by one of the leading architects of the Vienna Secession movement, Josef Hoffmann. The designer's goals were to make everything on the property an intricate work of art, something they called Gesamtkunstwerk. He employed other artists to help him achieve his goal, including Gustav Klimt, Richard Luksch, Michael Powolny, Koloman Moser, and Franz Metzner.
The house turned out to embody not only the Vienna Secession. It also brought about Art Nouveau's resurgence and the birth of modernism in artistic movements like Art Deco and the Modern Movement in architecture. While the house was modern for its time, that doesn't mean it wasn't functional.
No One Is Allowed Inside Except A Couple Of Lucky Employees
Because of the family's wishes that the building remains private, the only people allowed in are its caretakers. Not a soul has lived inside since Stoclet's heirs, his four granddaughters, vacated it. Still, they do continue to employ conservators to come and keep it from decaying. All aspects of the original house still stand and have been untouched.
What we can see from the outside is just as grand as the inside. The exterior walls are all made from marble panels, and the tower stands tall with its four bronze sculptures, which have all turned green from oxidization. You can see, albeit from a distance behind the gate, that the building has influenced other monuments of Art Deco like the Empire State Building. Its hedges are groomed as perfectly as if they sat on the grounds of Versailles.
The Stoclets once called it maison enchantée or enchanted house, and it certainly is. The only shame is that we can't see the whole thing. It's like looking at half a painting, but hopefully, the family will unlock the doors, and the heirs will know its worth one day. It was the first of its kind and influenced so much. Call your travel agent to visit the outside of Stoclet House (and the rest of Belgium).