Brussels battles old prejudices as it frees unloved river from its vault

Brussels battles old prejudices as it frees unloved river from its vault

City aims to reopen parts of Senne but centuries-held view of it as toxic sewer remains surprisingly strong

While Paris’s winding Seine has been an inspiration for some of the greatest works of romantic art and literature, the unloved Senne running through Brussels has been buried away under concrete for the last 150 years, condemned by locals as little more than a sewer and cause of disease and unhappiness.

As a constant flood risk and source of cholera, it was vaulted in, built over and hidden from sight. Now, however, Belgium’s capital is preparing to stage an inauguration ceremony that officials hope will help force a rethink among Bruxellois about their centuries-held prejudices against the waterway.

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