• 20 Oct. 2016
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The star sculpture

NATO’s forecourt sculpture, affectionately known as the “NATO star”, was a unique and recognisable feature of the Alliance’s first headquarters in Belgium. However, when NATO moved to Brussels in 1967, the headquarters was intended to be temporary, so the original construction did not include exterior décor. It was only after the North Atlantic Council decided, in late 1969, to make the Evere site a permanent home that the question was raised of lending a prestigious note to the empty courtyard of the main entrance.

A NATO Working Group declined the initial proposal of constructing a large weather-roof at the main entrance. Instead they invited consultant architects to come up with an alternative solution to embellish the forecourt, known as the Cour d’Honneur. Following a suggestion made by the Greek representative of the Group, Belgian architect Raymond Huyberechts designed a motif inspired by the NATO logo: a stylised “rose des vents” cut by two circles representing the old and new continent. It would be made of a factory-oxidised steel whose red-brown tint would not be affected by atmospheric agents. The Council expressed their preference for this motif when the model was presented at a meeting held on 17 March 1970.

Originally budgeted at 1.5 million Belgian francs, the sculpture was erected in mid-August 1971 and an opening reception took place on 10 September 1971. On 1 October 1971, Joseph Luns became the first NATO Secretary General to have his photo taken with the star.

Since then, the NATO star has become one of the most popular attractions for visitors, serving as the background for both official and non-official photos. It was also chosen as the key image for the special edition Belgian stamp issued on 31 March 1979 commemorating NATO’s 30th anniversary.

On 11 October 2016, on the eve of the Alliance’s 50 years in Brussels, the Belgian post issued a limited edition stamp to mark NATO’s move to its new headquarters. This commemorative stamp showcased the façade of the new NATO headquarters, with the star firmly installed in its new home surrounded by the flags of the NATO member countries.