As a port city for many centuries, Brussels has taken its destiny and its port into its own hands since 1993. The Port of Brussels is a regional company and provides a public service in the city.

Like many capitals, Brussels was created on a waterway, as an essential element in its economic development. Its port history dates back to its foundation, on the banks of the Senne. Despite being vaulted in the nineteenth century, the river still flows beneath our feet. 


A first canal connecting Brussels to the Rupel was already dug back in 1550. At that time, the city’s port reached Place Sainte-Catherine. A few centuries later, under Dutch occupation, work began on a new canal linking the capital to Charleroi, with its steel basin and coal mines. This was inaugurated following Belgian independence in 1832.

At the end of the 19th century, the Brussels-Antwerp canal was widened to make Brussels a seaport. The two canals – Brussels-Antwerp and Brussels-Charleroi – were then merged at Place Sainctelette to give the configuration we know today.

In 1993, following the successive reforms of the Belgian State, the Brussels Capital Region took its port destiny into its own hands. The Port of Brussels became a public interest body responsible for managing the waterway and commercialising the port area.

Interested in the past? Find out more on the website of La Fonderie.