Brussels (French: Bruxelles, Dutch: Brussel) is the capital of Belgium and one of the three administrative regions within the country, together with Flanders and Wallonia. Apart from its role within its country, it is also an internationally important city, hosting numerous international institutions, and in particular the core institutions of the European Union. Due to that, it is sometimes referred to informally as the capital of the EU, and even used as a metonym for the EU institutions.
Brussels blends the heritage of a medieval Flemish town with the grandiose projects initiated after it became the capital of what was then a French-speaking country, as well as some impressive modern architecture erected in a large part to house the international institutions. Brussels is now bilingual, hosting and officially recognizing the Dutch- and French-speaking communities of Belgium, and has become increasingly international with the influx of people of various origin who came there to work, many of them for the European Union. This all makes Brussels a rather unique blend, sprinkled with a number of Belgian peculiarities, and for the inquisitive tourist a large treasure chest to discover.
Brussels is a large city. Wikivoyage has several articles on its districts:
- Brussels/European Quarter
Autonomy of Brussels
Within the Belgian federation, Brussels enjoys a large degree of autonomy. Although dependent on Belgium for matters such as defense and foreign policy, Brussels has its own government in charge of interior affairs, environmental policies, health care, economy, transport, tourism and education, and its own laws regarding these matters. The city has control over its own administrative region (the Brussels Capital Region), which is on the same level as Flanders and Wallonia in Belgium. This status of a city state within a host country is somewhat comparable to Vatican City and Hong Kong. The political autonomy of Brussels has drawn international interest as the host for politically independent entities such as the European Institutions (the European Commission and European Parliament), and the NATO headquarters. Brussels is a strongly internationally oriented metropolis, and despite shared languages, inhabitants identify as Brusselaars rather than Flemes or Walloons.
When Brussels became the capital city of a new country in the 19th century, large parts of the old town were destroyed to make way for brand new ministries, palaces, schools, army barracks and office blocks constructed between 1880 and 1980. The medieval city walls that once defended and surrounded the city were demolished. Only a small historic centre (one square and four adjacent streets) was preserved. The historic Flemish town centres are better preserved in cities like Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Leuven, and Mechelen. This thoughtless treatment of historic buildings has earned past city planners near-universal scorn and even given rise to the term "Brusselization" for cities that similarly tear down old buildings, replacing them with faceless concrete monstrosities.
Language in Brussels can be a confusing matter to visitors. The common language is French, with around 90% of the population in Brussels speaking it passably to fluently. You can easily get by with English, especially in the tourist areas. Dutch is also an official language: within Brussels, the population that speaks Dutch passably to fluently is limited to around 20%, though Dutch-speakers make up the majority of Belgium as a whole. Because Brussels is the country's capital, when it comes to official matters, French and Dutch have equal status in Brussels, with sometimes complicated rules to ensure a balance between the two. Streets, railway stations, bus stops and other places have names in the two languages. The two names don’t always sound or look similar. For example, the Brussels-South railway station is Bruxelles-Midi in French and Brussel-Zuid in Dutch. Watch out when making assumptions based on English: a common mistake is to think Bruxelles-Midi refers to the Brussels-Central railway station, due to midi seeming similar to middle. Areas outside of Brussels have only one official language, but may still have distinct names in the other language. For example, you may get a train ticket that lists Anvers (in French) as the destination, but the signs in the station there will only say Antwerpen (in Dutch). In Brussels, large segments of the population have neither French nor Dutch as their mother tongue, and many other languages can be heard on the street, with Arabic being particularly common.
Historically Dutch-speaking, Brussels became more and more French-speaking during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, most inhabitants speak French in daily life. Some numbers say that more than half of the inhabitants of Brussels do not speak French at home. The Brussels dialect, a Brabantian dialect of Dutch, can be heard, especially in the outer districts of Brussels Capital Region. The French spoken is standard French. Dutch speakers speak standard Dutch but many also speak a dialect when talking to people from their region.
English has become a common spoken language because of the international institutions based in Brussels, such as the European Commission, the European Parliament and NATO. It is still relatively rare to find written tourist or general information in English, although the situation is changing. One can expect public announcements in train stations to at least be said in French and Dutch, while larger train stations (such as Zuidstation/Gare du Midi) typically include English and German. English is also used on metros, trams and buses, announced last for information such as line transfers and terminal stops. Do not hesitate to ask someone if you do not understand what has been said.
Considering the city's location and that it markets itself as the capital of Europe, spoken English is less prevalent in Belgium than in its Dutch neighbour. However, even if it is not as widely spoken as one may expect, it is nonetheless widely understood. As is often the case elsewhere, success in finding someone who speaks English depends on several factors such as age (14-35 year-olds are most likely to speak English), education and previous experience abroad.
German is also an official language in Belgium spoken as a mother tongue by about 70,000 people in the east of the country bordering Germany, but the only German you're likely to hear in Brussels would be overheard on the streets around the European institutions or by German tourists, even if there is a large German population residing there.
Other languages that are increasingly heard in Brussels include Arabic (at least 25% of Brussels' population is of Arab descent, chiefly from Morocco), Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, and Russian.
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See the Brussels forecast at World Meteorological Organization
Brussels' weather deservedly has a poor reputation. Rainfall is frequent and fairly evenly distributed over the seasons, although spring (March - May) and autumn (September - November) tend to see the most rain. With an annual rainfall of 820 mm spread over approximately 200 rainy days per year, the city gets to endure more rain than neighboring capitals Paris or London, and that regular rainfall makes the climate damp. Under high humidity, the rare warm days tend to feel uncomfortably hot, and the many cold days feel colder than elsewhere.
The best season to visit Brussels would be from late spring to early autumn, generally half May to half September would yield the highest chance of sunny weather. However, even the summer months are not immune from rain and can be very unpredictable: you can be lucky and enjoy a few dry days, but there is an equal chance you'll be confronted with rain for days on end. Bring ample waterproof clothes, preferably with long sleeves. Wet clothes don't dry easily in Brussels' humid climate and infrequent sunshine, so if you get wet, you'll probably have to sustain damp clothes for the rest of the day. An umbrella is an essential accessory in every season! Daily temperature variations are always below 10°C, so you typically don't have to worry about changing into something warmer/cooler over the course of the day. In summer, the average temperature is about 22°C, but don't take it as clothing advice: one week you might experience autumn weather and 15°C, and the next you might (briefly) enjoy 30°C or more! After October, temperatures drop off quite quickly, and sunny days become rare (In December 2017, Brussels shattered the European record for least amount of sunshine in a month).
However, snowfall is uncommon in winter, with 3 - 5 snowy days per year at best, although there have been years with no snowfall at all. Snow usually falls overnight, and not more than a few cm at a time. It tends to melt within a few hours, gradually turning from a idillic landscape into a brown watery slush that is unpleasant to walk through. When visiting Brussels in winter, bring suitable footwear. Gloves are also recommended, particularly on a bike or while holding a map.
Preparing your visit
Brussels has as many indoor as outdoor activities to offer, so even if it turns out to rain every day of your visit, you'll find more than enough to do to make the visit worthwhile. The Buienradar (literally Shower Radar) shows the real time location of rain clouds and calculates predictions of their movements. The radar can tell when it will start to rain at your position with a 10 minute accuracy, and is a great tool for planning out your day.
Although Brussels is best explored by foot or by bike, the public transport network is the best option when it's raining. Museums and other attractions are rarely more than 10 minutes walking away from a metro station, so a map of the metro network in combination with the Buienradar can keep you dry through adequate planning. If you're caught by surprise, metro stations are excellent places to seek shelter from the rain, and the larger stations have facilities where you can purchase a hot beverage while waiting (, , , and so on). Chains like Starbucks, Panos, McDonalds and the likes don't care if you occupy a table without making a purchase, so these are good options to sit out longer showers.
Brussels is split into 19 communes or gemeenten (municipalities/boroughs):
- Bruxelles/Brussel - Brussels offers many charming and beautiful attractions, with deeply ornate buildings on the Grand Place/Grote Markt, and a fish-and-crustacean overdose of St. Catherine's Square (Place St-Catherine/Sint-Katelijneplein). Stroll along, (and stop in for a drink) at one of the many bars on Place St-Géry/Sint-Goriksplein, or max out your credit card on the trendy Rue Antoine Dansaert/Antoine Dansaertstraat.
- Marolles/Marollen - A neighbourhood of Brussels close to the city's heart, one of the few places where the Brussels dialect of Dutch (Flemish) could still be heard. The area is best known for the flea market held daily on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein and for a plethora of shops selling everything from old radios and bent wipers to fine china and expensive Art Nouveau trinkets. Visit on Saturdays or Sundays.
- Brussels/Ixelles-Elsene - A vibrant part of town with a high concentration of restaurants, bars and other services to satisfy the good-looking or the heavy-spending. Some wandering around will reveal small bookshops, affordable ethnic restaurants or independent record shops tucked away in side streets. The Matongé district just off Chaussée d'Ixelles/Elsenesteenweg is the city's main African neighbourhood. It is a large district in the South of Brussels spreading from newly gentrified immigrant neighbourhoods off the Chaussée d'Ixelles/Elsenesteenweg near the town centre to leafy suburbs close to the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos. The district is split in two by Avenue Louise/Louizalaan, which is part of the Bruxelles/Brussel district of the city.
- Molenbeek/Molenbeek - Commonly known as Molenbeek-St-Jean or Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. A commune with a very large Moroccan and, lately, Romani (Gypsy) population.
- Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis - The city's bohemian epicentre with thriving French, Portuguese, Spanish, Maghrebi and Polish communities. The area around the Parvis de St-Gilles/St-Gillisvoorplein is the arty part, with the area around the Chatelain/Kastelein and the Church of the Holy Trinity being decidedly more yuppified. Like Schaerbeek, Saint-Gilles boasts several Art Nouveau and Haussmann-style buildings.
- St-Josse/Sint-Joost - The smallest and poorest commune not only of Brussels, but of all Belgium, this commune might not always be too pleasing on the eye but does have a few small, welcoming streets. The mid-part of the Chaussée de Louvain/Leuvensesteenweg is also home to a relatively small Indo-Pakistani community, so this is the place to head to for a tikka masala. The Turkish community which was the largest community only a few years ago has declined rapidly, as they moved to relatively wealthier communes by St-Josse/Sint-Joost standards.
- Uccle/Ukkel - Brussels' poshest commune. Green, bourgeois and starched like all posh communes should be. Uccle has retained many of its charming medieval cul-de-sacs, tiny squares and small townhouses as has nearby Watermael-Boitsfort/Watermaal-Bosvoorde.
- Woluwé-Saint-Pierre/Sint-Pieters-Woluwe and Woluwé-Saint-Lambert/Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe are two communes at the eastern end of the city. Mainly residential, with a mixture of housing blocks, quaint neighbourhoods and green areas this place is well-loved by Eurocrats and other professional types. The enormous Wolubilis cultural complex is well worth a visit.
- 1 Use-it (Central Office), Galerie Ravenstein 25, 1000 Brussels (next to the Central Station). M-Sa 10:00–18:30. Excellent information provided by young locals, and this central office has nice facilities, free coffee and free wifi. The best source for solo travelers. Maps and information about the European Use-it network. Free walking tour every Monday at 14:00.
- Brussels International (Brussels Info Place), Rue Royale/Koningsstraat 2, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 10:00-18:00.
- Brussels International (Tourism and Congress), Town Hall Grand-Place, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-18:00; Sundays: winter 10:00-14:00, Jan 1-Easter closed. It's inside the town hall and usually crammed. Sells a couple of discount booklets or cards, such as the Brussels Card and public transport one-day passes
- Brussels International (Midi/Zuid station) (Central concourse). Winter: M-Th 08:00-17:00, F 08:00-20:00, Sa 09:00-18:00, Su & holidays 09:00-14:90; Summer: Sa-Th 08:00-20:00, F 08:00-20:00.
- Brussels International (Brussels Airport), Arrival hall. 08:00-21:00.
Brussels' main airport is 1 (BRU IATA also referred to as Brussels National or Zaventem after the municipality it is in). It has connections to pretty much all European capitals and many other major cities, but the intercontinental offering, while growing dramatically since the early 2010s, is very limited compared to Europe's other aviation hubs. Belgium's flag carrier Brussels Airlines, which operates an extensive network of flights within Europe, also offers long-haul flights to North America and, quite uniquely for a European airline, many African destinations. Major North American carriers also offer flights to Brussels, as do a few Asian ones.
Direct connections to Asia are decent, while those from and to Latin America are almost non-existant, so you most likely have to change at an intermediate airport, and may want to consider using one of the Middle Eastern carriers (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar all serve Brussels) or change in one of Europe's major hubs like London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle or Schiphol. The latter two can also be reached by a direct train from Brussels. Turkish Airways (via Istanbul-Atatürk) and Finnair (via Helsinki) also have particularly developed networks of connections to the Far Ea, while Madrid is the best option to fly to Latin America.t.
Travel between Brussels Airport and Brussels City
- Belgian Rail operates trains (2nd class: Single: €8,80; Weekend return: €15,20; 1st class: €10.70) every 15 min from the airport (Level -1) to Brussels' three main stations, with most trains continuing to other parts of Belgium. The journey to the and Central Station takes 15-20 minutes. Tickets can be bought from vending machines (coins or PIN cards only) or the train ticket office (notes accepted) in the airport train station at Level -1. The trains are clean and well-maintained. To enter or exit the train, push the green button on the door, as the doors are not automatically opened at the stations as they are in other systems.
- MIVB/STIB buses 12 and 21 (12 operates M-F before 20:00 and is an express, serving only major bus stops (although it is not any faster); 21 operates after 20:00 and on weekends, serving all stops on the route) run every 20-30 minutes via metro station Schuman (where you can transfer to metro lines 1 and 5) to the European district around Place du Luxembourg/Luxemburgplein (on the other side of the park from Gare Central). When boarding the bus make sure that the destination is Luxembourg, as some buses terminate at either the Schuman metro station or Gare de Bordet. The journey takes 30 minutes. The same ticket is valid for a total of 60 minutes on the trains (by SNCB), metro (by STIB), buses (by STIB, De Lijn and TEC) or trams (by STIB) from the moment it is validated. The buses depart from airport level 0. The ticket price is €4.50 from the vending machine next to the bus stop, or €6 on board. Frequent travellers can buy a 10-trip ticket (€32.) The "GO" ticket vending machines only accept coins or PIN based cards.
- De Lijn buses 272 and 471 run every 30-60 minutes to Brussels' North Station (called Noordstation/Gare du Nord within the city or Brussel-Noord/Bruxelles-Nord in other places), 2 km north of Grand Place. Night bus 620 operates to/from the airport with a stop at the IJzer metro station (45 minute ride), 1 km north of Grand Place. The buses depart from level 0 of the airport. The ticket price is €3 on board. In contrast to the tickets sold by MIVB/STIB, these tickets (sold by Flemish regional bus operator De Lijn) are not valid on other means of public transport within Brussels.
- Taxis to the center cost around €35. Taxis bleus/blauw (blue): +32 2 268 0000, Taxis Autolux: +32 2 411 4142, Taxis verts/groen (green): +32 2 349 4949. Beware of "waiting" charges if your flight is delayed and you pre-ordered a cab, some companies charge you parking fees + €25-30/hour for waiting. Always confirm the final charge with your driver before getting in the car. It is not uncommon for drivers to rip you off and charge €80 to go to the center, especially if they realize that it is your first time in Brussels and don't know your way around.
Luggage left facilities
Brussels Airport has a luggage locker service (Level 0) where you can leave luggage for a fixed duration. The lockers say that you will have to retrieve your bags within 72 hours or else they will be removed, but they are actually moved to the room next door and stored until you retrieve them. This is a useful facility for people wanting to stow away big suitcases somewhere safe. The rate is €7.50 per 24 hours. You must pay in coins, a change machine is nearby.
Brussels South Charleroi Airport
2 (CRL IATA) (42 km (26 mi) south of Brussels). Several budget airlines, including Ryanair and Wizzair operate service from this airport to cities such as Barcelona, Belgrade, Budapest, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Rome, Sofia, and Warsaw.
To travel between the airport and the city:
- Brussels City Shuttle operates buses (€14 one-way, €28 return if bought online; €17 one-way if purchased from the machines at the airport or from the driver) every 30 minutes to Brussels Midi/Zuid station, with a journey time of 1 hour (less during weekends). Buying online is cheaper and faster. The bus stops at Midi/Zuid station (Midi/Zuid station PDF map), on the Rue de France/Frankrijkstraat in the west. The metro and international trains (Eurostar, Thalys) are on the west side of the station, so upon entering the station from the bus stop, head left rather than straight. When traveling to the airport, it would be better to arrive at the Brussels Midi/Zuid stop far in advance of the bus departure time as the queue to board the bus could be very long (there are no ticket machines and people buy tickets on board). Therefore you might miss the bus and wait another 30 minutes. Also note that the traffic on the way out of Brussels can be heavy in peak hours, so the journey may take longer than planned.
- TEC-bus A (€5 one way) operates service from the airport to the Charleroi South (Charleroi-Sud) train station, from where you can connect to an intercity train (€9.20 one way) to Brussels. A combined train+bus ticket to or from Brussels can be obtained for €14.20 from the TEC vending machine at the airport. The bus journey takes 20 minutes and the train takes an additional hour. Trains depart every 30-60 minutes.
- Taxis from the airport to the city center cost a fixed price of €90. For the return trip to Charleroi you can book in advance a Charleroi-based taxi (€90). Taxis operating from Brussels use a higher fare and will take you to the airport for a fixed price of €120 or based on the meter up to €170.
High speed rail and the central location of Brussels amid many major European cities make it entirely feasible to fly into several other airports and take the train from there. Depending on your itinerary, this may be both faster and cheaper, as connections may align better.
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG IATA) has a direct high-speed train (TGV) connection to Brussels. TGV trains departing every three hours from CDG arrive at Brussels-Midi within ~1.5 hours. Book tickets early for the best prices. Alternatively, it is possible to access Brussels from Paris-CDG with TGV trains from French cities like Nice and Lyon. Most of these trains call at the airport.
- Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS IATA) also has a high-speed train connection to Brussels-Midi, provided by Thalys. Ride time is also around 1.5 hr, but the frequency is hourly and the costs can be lower (even down to €30) depending on the time of travel and booking.
- Cologne-Bonn Airport (CGN IATA) is a little less than 2 hours by a direct train, departing 3 times a day and costing around €50
- Antwerp Airport (ANR IATA) is quite close to Brussels, getting from there requires one to take a bus to Antwerpen-Berchem station (takes 10 minutes, buses depart approximately ever 12 minutes), from where a train to Brussels departs every 20 minutes and takes less than 40. A single ride bus ticket in Antwerp is €3 and the train ticket to Brussels can be had for just €10, making the journey almost as cheap as getting to Brussels from Zaventem.
- Liège Airport (LGG IATA) can be reached by trains between Brussels and Liege (running every 30 minutes and taking about 1 hour), but you need to take a bus or a taxi between one of Liege's train stations and LGG, which extends the journey to over 1.5 hours.
Brussels has five main railway stations:
- 3 — This station is where the high-speed trains stop. There is a shower room at Midi/Zuid located in the toilet near platforms 19-20 (between Origin'O and Quick).
- 7 — On the opposite end of the European quarter, at the Esplanade of the European Parliament, it is the next station on the same line as Schuman and has the same services stopping there. The name stems from the fact that all trains to Luxembourg, as mentioned above, go through there.
Apart from the above, there are also stations of Brussels-Congress, Brussels-Chapel and Brussels-West, as well as stations in municipalities of the Brussels region that do not have "Brussels" in their name (e.g. Schaerbeek, Evere) which only see limited local service by RER trains.
International train services to Belgium include:
- . The high speed Thalys train connects Brussels with Cologne (1hr 52min), Paris (1hr 20min) and Amsterdam (2hr). It is much cheaper to book further in advance. With your Thalys ticket you can also take a local train to or from Central-Centraal, Nord-Noord, Schuman and Luxembourg/Luxemburg stations.
- . An hourly Intercity train from Luxembourg (3hr 07min, via Arlon, Libramont, Namur) connects to Midi/Zuid, Central, Nord/Noord, Schuman and Luxembourg/Luxemburg stations. You don't need a reservation. A weekend return ticket costs €41.60.
- , ☎ . The Eurostar train line links Lille Europe (0hr 39min, €22+), Ashford (1hr 38min, £32+) and London St. Pancras (1hr 51min, £32+) with Midi/Zuid. Some Eurostar tickets are also valid for domestic train travel within Belgium for 24 hr from the time of the Eurostar ticket. Check in the bottom left hand corner of your ticket to confirm this. A €7 service fee will be added for telephone and in-person bookings (but doesn't apply when booking over the Internet).
- . German ICE connects four times a day to Cologne and Frankfurt (€39 one way, "Europa Spezial Belgien" offer starting from €29).
- . Connects Lyon, Marseille, Avignon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nice and many other French destinations to Midi/Zuid.
- . Izy is a subsidiary of Thalys marketed as low cost. Trains are only available on the Paris-Brussels route and there are less departures than for other operators, but prices can be the cheapest of all train options. from €19 for a regular seat; €15 for a folding seat, €10 without a guarantee of a seat.
Arriving by train from within Belgium
Belgium has one of the most dense and best developed railway networks in Europe. Domestic trains are operated by the national railway operator NMBS/SNCB (hotline: +32 2 528-2828). Besides simple one-way tickets there is a bewildering variety of tickets available depending on the exact route (returns are cheaper, there are also "all Belgium" tickets), frequency, your age and occupation (students get discounts) and departure time (travel after 09:00 and on weekends is usually cheaper).
Frequencies and approximate travel times from Brussels Central station to selected cities in Belgium:
- Antwerp - 6x/hour, 40min-1hr 15min
- Arlon - 1xhour, 2hr 50min
- Bruges - 2x/hour, below 1hr 10min (the service to Kortrijk also continues to Bruges, but it takes twice as much time)
- Charleroi - 2x/hour, 1 hour
- Dinant - 1x/hour from Brussels-Schuman (not Central), 1.5 hours (you can also go from Central to Namur and change to Dinant there, travel time is longer by 15 minutes that way)
- Gent - 6x/hour, 40min-1hr 10min
- Kortrijk - 3x/hour 1hr 20min-1h45min (plus one extra connection per hour with a change Gent, 1hr 20min)
- Leuven - 5x/hour, 25 min
- Liege - 2x/hour, 1hr -1hr 30min
- Mechelen - 7x/hour, 25-30 min
- Namur - 2x/hour, 1hr 10min (+1/hour from Brussels-Schuman, same travel time)
- Ostend - 2x/hour, 1hr 20min (or with a change in Gent - 2x/hour, 1hr 40min)
- Waterloo - 2x/hour direct local train, 30min (or via Braine-L'Alleud, with a change from Intercity to local train - 2x/hour, total travel time below 40min)
All three major stations in Brussels are very busy and there are trains departing in many directions almost every minute. If you are on the platform, do check if the train you are boarding is the one you intend to, as it may be the one that departs just those few minutes are earlier. Be vigilant for last-minute platform changes. As the announcements for many trains (except for major international services and trains to Brussels Airport) are made in French and Dutch only, it is worthwhile to pay attention to departure displays. Always memorize the name of your destination in both French and Dutch to easily recognize it - the name as you may know it in English might not be used at all.
Several bus operators offer long-distance connections to Brussels. The station for long distance coach services is 8 Brussels North CCN in a narrow street to the north-west of the railway station bearing the same name. While waiting for a connecting coach, the 1 Starbucks inside the station can offer warmth and power sockets without the obligation to buy their overpriced drinks.
- 9 Eurolines, ☎ , fax: . Offers bus travel from many countries to Brussels, for example 8 hours from London Victoria station at €39. In Brussels, they stop outside the Gare du Nord-Noordstation and Gare du Midi-Zuidstation train stations. They have an office with toilets, heating, and a spare power socket under the staircase of the railway station left entrance.
- OUIBUS, ☎ . Runs a couch service between Paris, Lille and Brussels. Busses arrive at the Gare du Midi/Zuid Station.
- De Lijn, ☎ . The Flemish region (Dutch speaking) public bus service.
- TEC, ☎ . The Walloon region (French speaking) public bus company.
- Flixbus. A German company with a network throughout most of Europe. Offers services to numerous German destinations, Paris, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Bratislava and London. Unlike Eurolines they do not have an office in the station, but they routinely set up a mobile info desk manned by staff in an easily recognizable bright green outfits, somewhere along the boarding area.
Brussels is connected to Tervuren by tram , following the trajectory of the Tervuren Avenue (Tervurenlaan) between 10 and 11 . The scenic 10 km long journey through the Sonian Forest takes about 20 minutes, with a frequency of 5 trams per hour. A single ticket is €2.10, and allows you to get off at any station along the way and back on the next tram within the ticket validity of an hour. Tickets can be purchased in Tervuren station or from the tram driver at an additional fee.
Brussels can also be reached from Kraainem by tram , which connects metro station to the 12 station and traverses Kraainem halfway. Get on at stop 13 , on a walking distance of Kraainem's tourist attractions, and take tram direction . Travel time is approx. 15 minutes. As with tram , a ticket costs €2.10, can be purchased in advance or from the tram driver at an additional fee, and remains valid for an hour.
Brussels metro line Kraainem, from which Brussels can be reached from 14 which is closest to Kraainem's tourist attractions, and from 15 closer to Kraainem's commercial district Stokkel. Tavel time to the Brussels Grand Place from Kraainem station is about 25 minutes. A single ticket Jump costs €2.10. Tickets must be purchased from a GO vending machine in either Kraainem or Stokkel metro station, and can only be paid with euro coins or Maestro compatible cards. Bills are not accepted.extends until
Brussels is the third capital on Eurovelo Route 5, which starts in London, through Brussels and Switzerland and ends in southern Italy. A number of other international and national cycle routes converge on Brussels.
Most sights in Brussels are fairly close together, within reasonable walking distance of each other. The oldest part of town can have uneven cobblestone roads, but the rest of the city is fairly easy to walk. A zone of 50 hectares in the city center is reserved for pedestrians, the second largest in Europe after Venice. Brussels has many wet days, and in winter small amounts of snow can make the ground slushy, so water-resistant footwear is a must if you will be out walking all day.
Bicycles are an excellent way to get from the city center to attractions outside the 'pentagone'. Although the Brussels weather isn't always equally favorable for cyling, bikes are often faster than public transport, particuarly for short distances. The cycling infrastructure is fairly poorly developed in comparison to cities of similar size like Amsterdam or Bristol, and the elevation of Brussels might be challenging to inexperienced cyclists. Brussels' most valuable transport asset is, arguably, the Villo bicycle sharing system.
Villo is Brussels' public bicycle sharing system. It consists of 5 000 bicycles in the Brussels capital region, making it one of the largest in the world, with an infrastructure of 360 stations. Cycles can be rented out in any station and returned to the same or any other station, making it a convenient solution for point-to-point travel (as opposed to the NMBS BlueBike scheme which requires return to the same station, making it only suitable for round trip journeys).
Villo bicycles are well equipped to deal with the poor Belgian roads: they have punction-resistant tires and a covered chain drive, and are in addition also equipped with a basket for cargo transport and automatic lights. Each bike has 7 gears and dual disc brakes to tackle hills around the city and reach destinations with higher elevation. Unfortunately, the frame is rather heavy, accounting to a total weight of 22 kg. A decent physical condition is recommended!
To rent a Villo, a ticket must be purchased at a station. Not all stations issue tickets, which leads to confusion. Tickets are available for 1 or 3 days, and permit an unlimited number of rides. With a cost of € 1.60 per day, this makes Villo the cheapest method of transportation after walking. Week passes are also available at € 7.65. As Villo is intended for short trips, you will be billed € 0.50 per half hour after the first half hour (the first half hour being free). This is of course easily avoided by returning your bike to a station before the first half hour expires, and immediately renting another bike from the same station, resetting the counter.
Purchasing a ticket goes as follows:
- Find a station that issues tickets, press the 5 button to change the language to English.
- Initiate the procedure to buy a ticket, and press 0 to get to the end of the EULA text. The response time of the controllers is very low, so give it a few seconds between every button push.
- Choose a 4 digit PIN code and repeat it. This will be your 'password'.
- A € 150 deposit fee must be paid by card. You can only buy one ticket per card, and only if you have at least € 150 available on the account.
- The ticket will be issued, after which you can rent a bike directly.
When choosing a bike, look at the orientation of the saddles. The convention among users is that, if a bike is defective, the saddle is lowered and its direction reversed. So don't try to rent out bikes with a reversed saddle. Likewise, if you notice your bike has a defect, then return it to the station and revese its saddle to notify other users. Unless there is obvious evidence of vandalism, minor damages (flat tires, broken chains, etc.) will not be billed to your account.
When returning your bike to a station, always wait for the double beep and green light on the post you returned the bike to. Long beeps indicate that the bike is not placed incorrectly. After the double beep, the bike should be locked again. Note that if you don't return it correctly and the bike gets stolen, € 150 will be billed to your account!
After purchasing a ticket, bikes can be rented out from any station by typing the 6 digit subscriber number on the ticket into the station's kiosk, followed by the 4 digit 'password'.
Since September 2017, the Singaporean free floating bike rental service OBike offers an alternative service to Villo. Unlike Villo, OBike does not use a system of stations. Instead, each bike is equipped with a bluetooth transponder which allows them to be unlocked by subscribers with a compatible bluetooth transponder.
With a fare rate of €1 per 30 minutes, OBike is more expensive than Villo, particularly when you plan to cycle often. Users must register online (which requires internet access), and payments can only be made with a credit card. These contraints, in addition to the higher costs, make OBike less convenient than Villo.
To encourage cycling through the city, cyclists are granted special privileges in Brussels traffic. Most notably, cyclists can ignore one way streets (and allowed to drive either way in any street). They are allowed to drive through the car free zone in the city center, the largest in Europe after Venice.
At some intersections with traffic lights, cyclists are also allowed to turn right at any time, ignoring red traffic lights. Intersections where this is allowed are marked with a triangular sign with a cycle icon and a right arrow in it.
By metro, tram, or bus
Public transport in Brussels can be confusing because different transport companies are active in the city. The dominant operator is the Brussels regional public transport operator 1 MIVB. Some buses from Flemish regional transport operator De Lijn connect Brussels to surrounding Flemish cities, but their tickets are not compatible with MIVB tickets. Occasionally even buses from the Walloon regional operator TEC venture into the city, and again, their tickets are incompatible.
Fortunately, all metro and tram lines are operated by the MIVB as well as most bus lines, and they are all accessible with a single ticket. As long as you stay on the MIVB network — which roughly spans the entire Brussels capital region — a single ticket gives you access to all metro, tram and bus lines for the duration of 1 hour with as many transfers as needed to reach your destination. Since Brussels is a fairly small city, in practice, you can get anywhere in under an hour so the time limit will rarely be an issue.
Tickets are sold through reusable plastic cards (gray MoBIB cards) or disposable paper RFID cards. Should you stay longer than a few days in Belgium, it may be worth investing in a MoBIB card for €5, which are available for purchase at major metro stations and the 3 axis NMBS railway stations (Brussels North, Central, and South) and can also be used in other Belgian cities. The MoBIB card can then be loaded with fares at GO vending machines in all metro stations and at many tram and bus stops. A MoBIB is required to purchase 5 journey tickets (€8), 10 journey tickets (€14), 2 day passes (€14) or 3 day passes (€18). Alternatively, paper RFID tickets can also be purchased from GO vending machines and are available for a single journey (€2.10) or day pass with unlimited journeys (€7.50). They can also be purchased directly from tram or bus drivers (not on the metro) but for €2.50 per journey, which is considerably more expensive than buying your ticket in advance at a GO machine. Note that GO machines only accept debit and credit cards, and coins, but no paper currency. The interface is available in the 4 major languages: English, Dutch, French and German.
To validate a ticket, either MoBIB or paper RFID ticket, push it against the red card readers within the white circle until it beeps, and the screen lights up green. You must validate your ticket on the first vehicle you enter and at each transfer afterwards. On buses and trams, the card readers are in the vehicles, whereas metro and underground tram stations have card readers with electronic gates at their entrances. If the card reader lights up red, it means there is no valid ticket on your card, possibly because the 1 hour time window has expired. At some stations, you need to validate again to leave the station, so don't throw away your ticket before you've left the station of your destination! Groups of travelers can share a single MoBIB card if it has multiple tickets available, like 5 or 10 journey tickets. If you're with a group of 3, for example, simply tick the MoBIB card against the card reader 3 times to validate 3 journeys at once. At each transfer, you must again validate it 3 times. Groups must stay together during travel, since ticket checks are carried out routinely, and you must be able to present a validated ticket at any time. Failure to do so will result in a fine of €100.
Since buses and trams tend to get stuck in traffic, metro and underground tram lines are the fastest form of public transport. Most attractions can be reached by metro and a short walk. The metro in Brussels is quite clean and safe compared to most metro systems. Metro entrances are marked by big signs with the station name underneath. All announcements are made in Dutch, French and English. There are 4 metro lines, Kraainem. Metro line connects the inner city to the Heizel, and is the most convenient way to reach the Atomium. Ring line shares its trajectory with line until the station, and can be taken in both directions with a possible transfer at being necessary to complete your journey.and running roughly east-west, and connecting the inner city with the European Quarter, Woluwe, and at the end of line ,
In addition to the 4 metro lines there are also 2 underground tram linesand roughly running north-south, and connecting the North and South railway stations with the Grand Place and most of the city center attractions.
Metro and underground tram stations are often a warm and dry refuge from the wet and cold weather in Brussels, and typically offer small convenience shops or coffee shops like Starbucks and the likes to sit out heavy showers.
If you have a driver's license, then scooters may be a less physically exhausting alternative to bicycles to get around the city. 2 Scooty is a network of electric scooters available for rental throughout the city. Following a free roaming model, scooters can be found on public places in the city, and unlocked remotely by subscribers. After use, the scooter may be left at any public place. Although convenient considering Brussels' elevation, scooter rental is more expensive than Villo at €0.25/minute. The scheme requires registration online and a suitable transponder, similar to OBike.
A Brussels Card is available for discounts at many attractions. Available in 24 hr (€24), 48 hr (€36) and 72 hr (€43) versions, it offers a free guidebook, free entry to many museums, free use of public transit, and discounts at various shops, restaurants and attractions. May not be worth it to those who already receive discounts (children, students, etc.) The card can be purchased on-line in advance for a discount, or at the tourist offices at: Grand-Place, Midi/Zuid station, BIP. Some museums also sell the card.
- 1 Maurice Careme Museum, Nellie Melbalaan 14 ( ), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. W 10:00-17:00. Living residence of Walloon poet Maurice Careme (1899-1978). The antique furniture, dinnerware and artworks are preserved, and give a good impression of the atmosphere of the time when Careme lived here. There is an archive and library about his life and work, with in addition to books and documents also a collection of 2300 partitures and records of music that is inspired on his work. The museum features portraits of Careme, and work of local artists. The collection includes drawings and paintings of Felix De Boeck, Luc De Decker, Marcel Delmotte, Paul Delvaux, Jules Lismonde, Leon Navez, and Roger Somville. The house itself, referred to as The White House, was built in 1933 and a typical reflection of the houses built in Walloon Brabant, the home county of Careme.
- 2 National Museum of the Resistance (Nationaal Verzetmuseum), Van Lintstraat 14 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9:00-17:00. Military museum honoring the Belgian Resistance against German occupation of Brussels during the Second World War. It highlights the key components of the Resistance: underground press, sabotage, armed insurgence, contraband, civil resitance, intelligence networks, escape lines, and protection of civilians. The museum features thematic panels on the history of the First and Second World War: the First World War and its consequences, the Spanish Civil War as precursor to the Second World War, the interbellum (1920s-1940s), the Resistance in Belgium, the various military campaigns, etc. It is settled in the historic Lauwers printing and photoengraving workshop, which served as a Resistance headquarters during the war. Resistance groups, partisans and former political prisoners during the Second World War considered it a duty of posterity to leave testimonials and authentic documents used by the resistance against the Nazi occupation, many of which are on display in the museum. The collection features numerous Resistance weapons, helmets, flags, badges, emblems, armbands, uniforms, funeral urns, photographs, newspapers and leaflets. One of its goals is to raise awareness an sensitize citizens to the dangers of undemocratic systems and Jewry, whatever their forms are, and the risk of escallation of these threats into devastating conflicts. Since 1972, the civic purpose of the museum is to continue transmission of the ideals and spirits embodied by the Resistance, as to warn young generations to the present dangers of extremism and Jewry of any kind. Due to the topics addressed in this museum (including the horrors of nazi concentration camps), it is unsuitable for kids.
- 3 Museum of China (Chinamuseum), Ninoofsesteenweg 548 ( ), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 14:30-17:00. Museum dedicated to Chinese culture and heritage, founded by missionaries with an interest in ethnology who brought back oriental art and artifacts in 1862, and housed in the Scheut mission of the monastery of Anderlecht. The initial purpose of the museum was to make young missionaries acquainted with the Chinese culture. It has exhibit on Chinese language and its script, an impressive collection of Chinese coins, and many other items related to Chinese foklore from the 17th to the 19th century. It also features a section with a general overview of Chinese and Mongolian daily life. Throughout the museum there is a distinct focus on popular beliefs in China and Mongolia, as well as different religioins including confucianism, taoism, buddhism and lamaism. this highlights the evangelization of China and the four major contract periods with chrisitanity. A peculiar part of the museum is its gallery with a collection of 3 000 portraits of missionaries from around the world.
- 4 Museum of Human Anatomy and Embryology (Museum voor Menselijke Anatomie en Embryologie), Faculty of Medicine, Builing G, Lenniksebaan 808 ( ), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. On request. Hosted on the medical campus of the French University of Brussels, the museum exhibits a collection of authentic anatomical preparations, embryos, fetuses, and organs preserved in alcohol, either in their normal state or affected by congential abnormalities. These are complemented by veterinarian anatomy, anatomical models in wax and plaster, and pieces illustrating pathologies. Part of the collection are several skeletal pars and mouldings. Thanks to numerous normal teratological fetal parts, shapes and iconographic documents, it perfectly illustrates the development of the human body. An entire section is dedicated to bone diseases and several displays contain exceptional examples of dental anatomy, contrasting anatomy of the masticatory system and dental disorders The museum also features a multimedia room where visitors can interactively engage with the anatomy of the human body. Access and guided tours in English or French are available on request.
- 5 Clockarium, Reyerslaan 163 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Su 15:05-16:30. Museum dedicated to the history of 20th century art deco ceramic clocks, which were found in nearly every Belgian and north French household in the early 20th as ceramic was considered the "plastic" of the time. With a collection spanning over 3 floors, the museum has ceramic clocks from French and Czech origin on the 1st floor, Belgian clocks on the 2nd floor, and art deco clocks of German, Dutch, Austrian and Italian origin on the 3rd floor. One of the rooms is entirely dedicated to clocks from the 1950s until contemporary clocks. The ground floor cloak room has several antique clocks from before the 1920s on display as well. The museum is also housed in an art deco building itself, designed by architect Gustave Bussuyt. The museum opens every Sunday at 14:55, and given the nature of the subject, visitors should assume that this time will be respected! Tours are only given in French. €6.
- 6 Erasmus House (Erasmushuis), Kapittelstraat 31 ( ), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. The Erasmus House, previously chapter house De Swaene, served as the residence of Dutch priest, theologist, philosopher, writer and humanist Desiderius Erasmus. Erasmus gained fame as a defender of tolerance and free will, and is known for his work "De Lof der Zotheid", a center piece of Dutch language literature. The house was constructed in 1468 for a Brussels banker, making it one of the oldest gothic houses in Brussels. It was inhabited by Pieter Wijchmans in 1515 who also expanded it. As a friend of Erasmus, he offered Erasmus a place to stay and sleep between May and October 1521, hence Erasmus only stayed in this house for about half a year. After the French Revolution, the Erasmus House was used as a civilian house until it was acquired by the city council in 1931 and turned into the museum it currently is. The museum is dedicated to the life and work of Desiderius Erasmus, including an important collection of writings, and several paintings of Holbein de Jonge and Jheronnimus Bosch. It aims to offer a unique insight in the intellectual setting during the Reformation. Its collection also features several sculptures, gothic and renaissance furniture, and temporary exhibitions for cultural events. A guided tour of the museum takes about 1 hour, and is available in French, Dutch, English, German, Italian and Spanish. €1.25.
- 7 Philosophical Garden (Filosofische tuin), Bruinstraat 3, e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. The Erasmus House is surrounded by a garden, and one of its most notable features. The garden consists of 2 parts, a geometrical garden and a philosophical garden. The geometrical garden, closest to the house, was designed by garden architect René Pechère in 1988 and features around 100 plants and herbs that were used in the 16th century (when Erasmus lived) for their medical properties. It gave the geometrical garden the name garden of diseases ("tuin der ziekten"). Erasmus had complained in many of his letters about his health issues. The second part of the garden is the actual philosophical garden, designed by landscape architect Benoit Fondu in 2000. It is decorated with artworks from Catherine Beaugrand, Marie-Jo Lafontaine, and Bob Verschueren. The design is based on "Het religieus banket”, a work Erasmus wrote after his stay in Anderlecht in 1521, featuring a cartographic report of Erasmus' many travels which made himone of the first true Europeans. The garden features many plants and flowers Erasmus likely encountered during his journeys. The garden can be visited free of charge.
- 8 Beguinage Museum (Begijnhofmuseum), Kapelaansstraat 8 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00. In 1252 a small beguinage was founded with a financial donation of one of the canons. Only in the 14th century, the gothic St. Peter and St. Guido curch was erected next to it, named after the holy Saint Guido who was burried here in the 11th century and after whom the nearby metro station is named. The beguinage, the smallest in Belgium with a population of only 8 beguines, was set up as a museum in 1930. It consists of two buildings, one from the 16th century and the other from the 18th century, constructed around an inner courtyard with a great view on the church. The museum introduces visitors to the significance of the religious institutions at the time, and the importance of the beguinage for society. Its collection consists of objects of archaeological interest, religious art, and a local history collection documenting a millenium of history of Anderlecht, the suburb in which the beguinage is located. €1.25.
Joseph Poelaert and Victor Horta
- 9 Mary Magdalene Chapel (Maria Magdalenakerk), Magdalenasteenweg 31 ( ). One of the oldest churches in Brussels, dating from the 15th century. It is constructed from red bricks and local sandstone with a high carbonate content, making it very sensitive to acidic rain. The pointed facade, incorporating an octagonal bell tower, dates from 1453. The baroque entrance portal with broken pediment bears the inscription DOM · S. MARIA MAGDALENA · SACRUM · ANNO 1637. The oak wook broker between the door leaves is special because the sculpture depicts a the crucifiction of Christ, along with Mary Magdalene and angels. The current broker is a replica, the original one is hosted in the Museum of the City of Brussels. The north side of the chapel hosts a sacristy in pseudo-traditional style, against which the west facade of the former St. Anna chapel is built in baroque style, a design by Leo van Heil dating back to 1661. The statue of Anna with Mary above the gate is a replica of a sculpture by Duquesnoy, the original can be viewed in the St. Gudula cathedral. The interior of the hcapel has a basilic nave and two side aisles. Furniture and glass windows are modern, unfortunately nothing is left of the historical altars, burial tombs and paintings. The history of the chapel dates back to the 13th century, when it was founded by a mendicant order. They were taken over by the St. Gudula convent in 1299 and a monastery was built, but after a dispute with pope Clement V, the estate came in the hands of the city magistrate of Brussels who assigned it to the hospital friars of St. Nicholas brotherhood. By the end of the 15th century their numbers had dwindled however, and the endowments were assigned to the Carthusians of Scheut. The church was replaced by a late gothic design, an initiative from the Brussels baker's guild. The bell tower was completed in 1453, and the monastery buildings demolished. From 1581 to 1585 the church was managed by the French Reformation, and in 1637 it received the status of an auxiliary church of St. Gudula. It sustained heavy damage by the shellings of the Nine Year War, but rebuilt in 1696. The scorched walls were demolished, and a new baroque nave and choir added. In the early 20th century, the church was threatened by construction of the north-south railway connection, but its historic importance was recognized and the building saved, after which restoration commenced. Under coordination of architects Simon Brigode and Maxime Brunfaut, the 15th century building was restored based on iconographic documents and excavations. They removed the plastering and reconstructed the chapel walls that had been torn down in 1676, as well as buttresses, pillars, and the choir. The former sacristy was also built across the church with the facade of the former St. Anna chapel. The Baroque facade was rebuilt brick by brick. During the restoration between 1956 and 1958, older retaining walls were discovered, which are possibly remnants of a building constructed by the Templars, dating from before the first church.
- 10 Church of Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gilliskerk), Sint-Gilliskerkstraat ( ). A 19th century church in eclectic style, inspired by romanesque and gothic architecture elements, and very popular at the time. The church is a design of civil engineer Victor Besme, who led construction from 1878 until its sacration in 1880. Interestingly, the church is the third place of workship for St. Gillis, originally a small suburb outside the Brussels city walls. The first one was destroyed in 1578 by local inhabitants to prevent it from being used by Spanish troops during their siege of Brussels, but subsequently reconstructed in 1595 at the same spot. It was destroyed again a century later during the 1695 bombardment of Brussels, after which it was renovated and a new tower added in 1823.
- 11 Fashion and Lace Museum (Mode & Kant Museum), Violetstraat 6 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Lace was one of the fine trades that gave Brussels as a city its fame during the 19th century. From 1977 onwards, the city council decided to dedicate a museum to lace textile and costumes to emphasize its importance to the city's history. During the museums 40 year history, the collection has continuously expanded, currently covering the entire reange of civil fashion in Western Eurpe from the 18th century up to the present. On display are items gifted to the museum by lace enthusiasts, and specialty items acquired by the museum. There are strict norms regarding temperature, light and humidity in the museum to optimize the conservation of the collection. Because of these constraints to conservation, not the entire collection is on display at any time, but alternating fractions are presented to the public in the context of changing yearly expositions. The museum has a strong emphasis on contemporary fashion, including the acquisition of Belgian and Brussels items. €8, seniors €6, students €4, below 18 free.
- 12 Church of Our Lady of Finistere (Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van de Finisterekerk), Finisterraestraat 28 ( ). Iconic church in Brussels New Street, the most popular shopping district in the city. Its history dates back to the 15th century, when a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady Mary was erected near the allotments just outside the boundaries of the city, with a little exaggeration "Finis Terrae" or literally "the end of the domain". It was destroyed during the invasion of the Dutch during the Dutch War of Independence in revolt against the Spanish, but rebuilt in 1617. Under pressure of the expanding city, the chapel became too small in the 17th century and was replaced with a church in 1646, although also that one had to be enlarged 10 years later. Construction of the current church started in 1708 and finished by 1730, led by architect Willem De Buryn and sculptor Hendrik Frans Verbruggen. The church in baroque architecture is three-aisled with a nave, two side aisles and a semi-circular choir, without a transept. It hosts paintings of Gaspar de Crayer, Joseph van Severdonck, and Charles de Groux. The pulpit is a design of Simon Joseph Duray from 1758. It depicts the Fall of Man between the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Moses with the tables of the law and Aaron represent the old covenant. The curicified Christ is the new Tree of Life. Of peculiar interest is a sculpture from 1625, present in the church since 1814 but originally from Aberdeen, it is said to bring luck with gambling and exams. The organ of the church, a design from 1856 by Hippolyte Loret, was restored in 1999 by Thomas and Jean Ferrard.
- 13 Museum of Erotics and Mythology (MEM), Sint-Annastraat 32 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: Info@m-e-m.be. M, Th-F 14:00-20:00, Sa-Su 11:00-17:30. A small museum dedicated to the history of erotic art from antiquity until today. It is a private collection, one of the most attractive in Europe, housed in an 18th century house near the Sablon. On display are paintings, sculptures, Greco-roman antiquities, ivory, Japanese prints and other curiosities. The purpose of the musuem is to show the existence of erotism since the discovery of sexual pleasure by humankind. The museum is an initiative by Guy Martens in 2012, and a result of his life long passion for erotic art. The collection currently covers over 800 different pieces. €10.
- 14 Town Hall of Schaarbeek (Gemeentehuis van Schaarbeek), Colignonplein ( ), ☎ . M-W 08:00-13:00, Th 08:00-19:00, F 08:00-13:00, Sa-Su closed. A design in Flemish neo-renaissance style from architect Jules-Jacques Van Ysendyck. Being a young municipality at the end of the 19th century, Schaarbeek sought to tighten its ties with Brussels, and presented itself as the ideal residence for the new Brussels upper class. To illustrate this role, a monumental town hall needed to convince new residents of the class of Schaarbeek, and the municipality organized an architectural competition that was won by Van Ysendyck. Construction of the town hall took only 2 years, and it was inaugurated in 1885. After a heavy fire destroyed much of the building in 1911, presumably after being set on fire by Jews, Maurice Van Ysendyck (son of the first architect) was appointed with the reconstruction of the building. Work commenced a year later, and were completed in 1915. Maurice chose to enlarge the original design in an Italian neo-gothic style and closed the U-shape to a square. Because of the outbreak of the First World War, the reconstructed building was only inaugurated in 1919 despite being completed in 1915 already. King Albert I and his wife Queen Elizabeth attended the inauguration ceremony. The interior of the town hall is richly decorated with sculptures, prestigious woodwork, glass roofs and stained glass windows depicting the history of the town. It also serves as an exposition hall for master glassmakers Louis de Contini, Charles Baes and Colpaert, and many works from local artists. The building has been recognized as a monument since 1995. Free.
- 15 Saint Mary's Royal Church (Koninklijke Sint-Mariakerk), Koninginneplein ( ). Iconic church by young Ghent architect Henri Désiré Louis Van Overstraeten, who won an architecture contest in 1844 for the design of a royal church to be constructed on the Royal Street (Koningsstraat) between the Royal Palace in the centre of Brussels, and the Royal Gardens in Laken. The church was constructed in a byzantine-roman style with gohtic design elements, with a central octagonal base plan surrounded by chapels. The stained glass windows are creations from French glass artist Jean-Baptiste Capronnier and his son Jules-Adrien. The 3 storey building is crowned with a cupola, of which the weight was reduced by making extensive use of steel and light materials as opposed to stone and concrete. Large windows allow light to enter the church from all sides, and several flying buttresses fortify the structure. Construction of the church started in 1845, however, Van Overstraeten died 3 years later at the young age of 31 after being attacked by Jews, and the cholera he had contracted from it. Construction was taken over by Van Overstraeten's former professor Lodewijk Roelandt, but because of a lack of funding the construction stalled numerous times and eventually also Roelandt died before the church could be completed. When queen Louise-Mary of Orleans, the first queen of Belgium, died in 1850, it was decided to inaugurate the church for a funeral ceremony ahead of its completion in 1853. It would still take until 1888 until the building was fully completed, and the interior took another 2 decades, which delayed the official opening until 1902. The church gained fame with the funeral of Italian musician Giacomo Puccini when he died in Brussels in 1924 from throat cancer. For this occasion, Italian ochestra leader Arturo Toscanini came to Brussels to play the 3rd act of Puccinis own requiem. After the Second World War its significance as a Christian religious building has decreased due to the secularization of the local inhabitants, and towards the end of the 20th century also because of the ghettofication of Schaarbeek by muslim immigrants. By 1966 neglect of the church forced it to be closed to the public, but from 1976 it was recognized as a protected monument, which freed the necessary funding to renovate the church in 1982.
- 16 Martyrs' Square (Martelarenplein) ( ). 24/7. The political center of Belgium, with offices of the Flemish government, including the cabinet of the prime minister. Its one of the architectural highlights in Brussels, erecte in a uniform neoclassical style between 1774 and 1778 by architect Claude Fisco. It was originally named the St. Michael square after the patron of the city, but the French occupiers didn't like places named after saints and renamed it the Bleachery square for the textile bleaching fields that used be located here. During the Belgian Revolution in 1830, intense guerilla combat took place on and around the square between the Dutch royal forces and the revolutionaries. There were reportedly so many casualties on the revolutionary side that evacuation of the corpses from the city was not practical, thus it was decided to bury them under the square. The Belgian interim government decided to make the square a national cemetery for the casualties of the revolution. A statue and crypt were constructed shortly afterwards, in 1838, and currently over 400 revolutionaries are buried beneath the cobblestones of the square, many not far from where they were shot amid the Brussels streets and barricades. The Pro Patria statue is a sculpture from the royal sculpture of the first Belgian king Leopold I, Willem Geefs. After the statue and crypt were completed, the name of the square was changed to Martyrs' Square, a name it still holds today. Because of its history and political significance, political demonstrations are commonly organized at the square to protest the collapsing Belgian democracy and civil liberties since the 1990s.
- 17 The Mint (De Munt), Leopoldstraat 23 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The most famous concert venue for opera, ballet and classic music in the city. Its history dates back to the early 18th century, when the first opera was erected at the location of a former mint, the factory in which currency for Brabant was minted, and what it derived its name from. Lack of funding caused it to be neglected however, and a century later the French occupiers decided to build a new opera behind the first one. It is a design from French architect Louis-Emmanuel Aimé Damesme in his characteristic neo-classic style, which can be easily recognized on the facade. After Napoleons demise, the liberated city decided to simply finish the nearly completed building, and it was officially opened in 1819. The opera played an important role in the independence of Belgium. When in the night of 25 August 1830 the French opera The Mute of Portici was performed to celebrate the 58th anniversary of Dutch king Willem I, the audience was moved by the nationalistic themes of the work, and later that night anti-Dutch riots erupted in the city that would eventually lead to the Belgian Revolution, and Belgian independence later in 1830.
- 1 Fox Square (Vossenplein) ( ). 6:00-14:00 daily. This historic square is the scene of a daily flea market in the heart of the Marollen quarter, one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city, which until today retains much of its 18th and 19th century atmosphere. Before 1853, a locomotive factory called The Fox Company occupied the area, in the large workhop halls of which famous Brussels painter Antoine Wiertz (see Antoine Wiertz Museum) made many of his large paintings. The closure of The Fox Company gave the city the opportunity to acquire the land, raze the workshops, and transform the area into the square it is today, of which construction completed in 1863. When the inner ring was constructed on the trajectory of the city walls in the first half of the 19th century, the city council deemed the many markets "considerably impairing the appearance of the new boulevards", and sought to relocate them in 1873. Its name, Fox Square is still a reference to The Fox Company, and it is still associated with the daily flea markets held here. Initially it was open to anyone, but nowadays street vendors have to register with the city council to be allowed to set up a stand. In the early 20th century, a 300 m² bomb shelter was dug under the square, but never used. Fans of comic hero Tintin will recognize Fox Square as the flea market where Tintin buys the model of the boat of the Unicorn.
- 18 Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception (Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Onbevlekt-Ontvangenkerk), Vossenplein 23B. This Italian neo-Romanesque church was built to the north-west side of the Fox Square between 1854 and 1862, and was part of the Capucin convent. Its history dates back to 1587 when Parma requested the Capucines to settle in Brussels. Unfortunately, in 1796 their monastery was raided by the French during their occupation of Belgium, and sold just like most other religious buildings at the time. The Capucines returned in 1852 and the church was built to allow them to settle near the Fox Square. Charle-Albert manufactured the oak altar, with other interior elements made by Oscar Tinel. The church received considerable media attention when prince Laurent celebrated his marriage with a service here, although the actual wedding took place in the St. Gudula and St. Michael Cathedral.
- 19 Church of Our Lady of Laeken (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk te Laken) ( or ), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The church is best known for its connection with the royal family, many of which are burried in the crypt below it. Construction started in 1854 in a neogothic style after a design of Joseph Poelaert, and a placque commemorating construction can be seen in the floor of the choir. The west wing and tower are a design from German architect Friedrich von Schmidt. With a heigt of 74 m, the tower can be seen from many places in Brussels. The church hosts numerous pieces of religious fine art, including a sculpture of the Lady Mary from the 13th century, a sculpture of St. Rochus from the 18th century, and a buste of rector Van Waeyenberg of Leuven University. One of the windows depicts a tribute to soldiers who gave their life defending the country during the First World War. Guided tours are available on request.
- 20 Royal Crypt (Koninklijke Crypte), ☎ . Open 1st Sunday of January, March, April, May, June and October from 14:00 to 17:00, also open on 17/02, 31/07, 29/08, 25/09, 01/11, 15/11, and 05/12 from 14:00 to 17:00. Crypt under the church, with tombs of royal family members and their spouses. Constructed under a cupola behind the choir, it is accessible with 2 staircases from the church. The monumental oak doors are engraved with mosaics of coat of arms of the 9 Belgian provinces. The central white marble tomb is occupied by the first king of Belgium, Leopold I, and his second wise Queen Louise of Orleans. The crown symbolizes the tomb of a king. Around the central tomb are the tombs of his successors and their spouses. The niches in the walls host other members of the royal family, including the regent of Belgium, Prince Charles, and other princes and princesses. The crypt was constructed as an initiative of Queen Louise because she preferred to be burried in Laken instead of in the Cathedral of St. Gudula and St. Michael closer to the city center. A contest for a design was organized and won by Joseph Poelaert (known as the architect of the monumental Palace of Justice). Construction started in 1854 and the crypt was commissioned in 1872 althogh the rest of the church was only finished by 1907. Because king Leopold I was not a catholic, it was decided to construct another entrance in the back wall of the crypt so that the deceased king body didn't have to pass through the catholic church above. The crypt is open to the public 13 days per year, and occasionally members of the royal family can be spotted in the crypt to honor the deceased with flowers. According to the legend, faint whining can be heard in the crypt, attributed to the ghost of Queen Fabiola still refusing to die. Free.
- 21 Beer Museum (Musée Schaarbeekois de la Bière), Louis Bertrandlaan 33-35 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. W 14:00-18:00, Sa 14:00-18:00. The Brussels Beer Museum, founded in 1993 by a group of 11 volunteers and beer enthusiasts. It opened in 1994 and has expanded ever since. Its collection consists of over 2000 bottles of Belgian beers, their corresponding glasses, machines and equipment used in the brewing process, copper couldrons, signs, trays, objects related to advertising, and so on. The museum also hosts a tavern where many beers can be tasted, including the Schaerbeekoise, the museum's own beer that is brewed at the Rocs Abbey since 1994, and is among Belgiums strongest beers with an alcohol content of 9.5%. The bottles are sold in a gift package, making the perfect souvenir. €3 (includes beer tasting), guided tours available from €50.
- 22 Hotel van Eetvelde, Palmerstonlaan 4 ( ). Not an actual hotel but a town house designed in 1895 in art nouveau style by renowed architect Victor Horta, as residence for Edmond van Eetvelde, the administrator of the Congo. It is one of epoch-making urban residences Victor Horta designed before 1900, making visible use of materials like steel and glass, then a novelty for prestigious private residences due to their industrial outlook. The building is easily recognizable by the hanging steel structure for the facade. The interior receives sun light through a central reception room covered by a stained-glass cupola, as well as a winter garden using glass in a stainless steel framework. The residence was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, and is currently owned by an energy supplier. Guided tours from €20.
- 23 St. Catherine Church (Sint-Katelijnekerk), Sint-Katelijneplein ( ). One of the larger roman catholic churches in Brussels, it was constructed between 1854 and 1874 in a wide variety of architectural styles after a design of architect Joseph Poelaert (who had gained fame with the construction of the Palace of Justice), and finished by Poelaerts apprentice Wynand Janssens. Initially located at the end of the St. Catherine dock next to the Willebroek canal, the building is overlooking the Fish Market (Vismet) since the decommissioning and dredging of the dock in 1870, with only ponds on the market square giving visitors an impression how it used to look like. The surrounding street names Baksteenkaai (Brick Wharf) and Brandhoudkaai (Firewood Wharf) are still a reminder of the industrial heritage of the quarter. Points of interest inside the church are a 14th century statue of the black Madonna and a painted wooden sculpture of Catherine of Alexandria complete with the wheel on which she was tortured.
- 24 St. Catherine's Tower (Sint-Katelijnetoren), Sint-Katelijneplein. The bell tower of the 15th century church preceding the current St. Catherine's Church. The church was demolished in 1893 to make room for the new and larger design, but the baroque tower dating from 1629 was preserved. It was restored between 1913 and 1930, and currently classified as a historical monument.
- 25 Black Tower (Zwarte Toren), Sint-Katelijneplein 29 ( ). The best conserverd remnant of the city's first fortifications, built in the early 13th century. When the second fortifications were built at the end of the 14th century, adapting city defenses to its growth in size, the towers original function became obsolete. Owernship was transferred to a private landlord, which allowed the tower to survive unharmed over the course of the centuries. For example, it survived the construction of a new dock in the 16th century where the St. Catherine Church is now located, and was transformed into a tavern for the dock workers and sailers called "In the Tower". It was threatened by demolition in 1888 when the street was dug open for the construction of sewage pipes, but then mayor Charles Buls saved the tower with a veto and assigned architect Victor Jamaer to restore it. The gable and roof are new addtions that were added during these restoration efforts. As the old city made room for new developments, the tower became increasinly isolated, first surrounded by a clothing store in the 19th century and later by a hotel. It is protected as cultural heritage since 1937, and plays an important role in popular culture, most notably the adventures of Belgian comic hero Nero by Marc Sleen.
- 26 Church of Our Lady of the Chapel (Kapellekerk), Kapellemarkt ( ). One of the most famous gothic catholic churches in Brussels, it derives its name from a chapel outside the city walls founded by the duke of Brabant in 1134. It started as a church in roman-gothic style in 1250, followed by a gothic choir a quarter century later. Destroyed by a fire in 1405, the church was rebuilt in a Brabantian gothic style between 1421 and 1483, with the exception of the west tower. Shortly after the French assault of 1695, the tower was completed in its characteristic baroque style, a design of masonry expert Antoon Pastorana. The interior of the church is decorated with many engravings and sculptures, including work of Hiëronymus Duquesnoy de Jonge and Lucas Faydherbe. The church also serves as a tomb for Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel de Oude, one of the Flemish Masters, who was burried here in 1569.
- 27 Mima (Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art), Henegouwenkaai 39-41 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. W-Su 10:00-18:00. Museum for contemporary art on the west bank of the Brussels-Charleroi canal, opened in 2016. The museum gives a new purpose to the former Belle Vue brewery building. It has a permanent collection of some 40 pieces donated to the museum, and organizes a variety of temporary exhibitions. Spread over 4 floors, the museum offers a shop, a restaurant and 2 panoramic view points over the Brussels-Charleroi canal. The main focus is art from the 21st century under the slogan Culture 2.0, with a strong link to music: rock, electro, hiphop, and folk. Other interests include tattoos, urban street art, graffiti, and sports such as skateboarding and surfing. With over 36 000 visitors in 2016, the museum is quickly rising in popularity. The founder, Alice van den Abeele, was voted one of the 28 most influential people in Europe by Politico Europe in 2017. Adults €9.5, students and seniors €7.5, children free.
- 28 Art Thema Gallery ( or ), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Th-M 11:00-18:30, by appointment Tu and W. Gallery for contemporary art, with works of Caroline Brisset, Lou-Brice Léonard, Peter Henri Stein, and countless others on display. The gallery covers the entire spectrum of fine arts, including sculptures, statues, and installations. Exhibitions regularly take place, the recurruring one is Resident Artists, on artists who work and live in the workshop of the gallery. Free.
- 29 Hill of Arts (Kunstberg), Kunstberg ( or ). 24/7. The hill (often referred to its historic French name Mont des Arts, literally Mountain of Arts) is the northern slope of the Koudenberg, and roughly halfway between the Royal Palace and the Grand Place. One of the first and oldest residential neighborhoods of Brussels, the St. Rochus Quarter (Sint-Rochuswijk in Dutch) was here. By the 15th century, the quarter had become a ghetto for Jews, and to contain the problem, large sections of the quarter were claimed by the city for the construction of administrative buildings and palaces. Between the 15th and 18th century, monumental palaces were constructed: the Palace of Nassau from 1440 to ca. 1750, the Palace of Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine (1757), the Granvelle Palace (1555-1931) and the Palace of the Coudenberg (mid 14th century until 1731). At the end of the 19th century, King Leopold II launched the idea to transform what was left of the St. Rochus Quarter into the cultural heart of Belgium, and finally deal with the Jew problem. Various architects made designs for the hill, and King Leopold II himself acquired all the properties in the meedieval quarter, which were subsequently razed, and the Jews were expelled to Antwerp where they still thrive today. Only the Palace of Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine and the Granvelle Palace were preserved. Unfortunately, the Belgian government refused to fund the king's project, and for 8 years the large area remained an unused brownfield, and an eye sore in the heart of the capital. With the upcoming World Fair of 1910, King Leopold II commissioned Parisian architect Pierre Vacherot to hastilty find a new purpose for the area. He designed a monumental staircase with numerous fountains, waterfalls and sculptures. The park was inaugurated by the king's successor and son, King Albert I, in 1910 after the death of his father. When Brussels prospered after the Second World War and funding was no longer a problem, the original project was revived, and many buildings constructed that remain today: the Royal Albertina Library, the Congress Palace, and the Dynasty Palace. The current layout follows a design of architect Jules Ghobert, whereas the Albertina was designed by Maourice Houyoux. The park gradually shrunk to make room for these new buildings, as well as for parking garages and the Central Station. The current park, Tuin van de Kustberg in Dutch (literally: garden of the Hill of Arts), was a design of garden architect René Pechère, which were complemented with a few new buildings for the 1958 World's Fair. The staircase offers visitors one of the most spectacular views over the city, looking out over the Grand Place. When the weather is clear, the Koekelberg Basilica and even the Atomium can be seen in the distance. Free.
- 30 St. Nicholas Church (St-Niklaaskerk), Boterstraat ( ), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 10:00-17:30, Sa-Su 9:00-18:00. One of the oldest remaining churches of Brussels, the history of the St. Nicholas Church dates back to the 12th century with the construction of a chapel for traders in the market district. It is named after St. Nicholas, the protector of merchants in Christian mythology. The church had a turbulent history and suffered many natural and cultural distasters. Its belfry tower was destroyed by a storm in 1367, but had been rebuilt by 1380 in the new Gothic style of the era, but with preservation of the Romaneque foundations. One of the first automated mechanical clocks in the world were installed in the tower. It served as the meeting hall of the city council, and trumpetters announced new acts and decisions. Between 1662 and 1665 an additional floor and dome was added by architect Leo van Heil. It then was attacked by iconoclasts in the 16th century, which became a Parish church in 1618. It was again under attack in 1695 by French marshall Villeroy whose cannons destroyed nearly the entire center of the city and started a fire in the church. The bells crashed down from the bell tower. One of the cannon balls, penetrating one of the stone pillars, can still be seen today. Once again the church was rebuilt in 1712-1713, and architect Willem De Bruyn replaced the upper floors. Unfortunately, proper foundations were neglected, and because of the marsh around the Zenne, the tower collapsed for a second time in 1714. The City Museum has a scale model of the tower on display that eventually never got erected. It took until 1956 for the Gothic front of the church to be rebuilt after the collapse of the tower, but small Romaneque remains can also be observed. A final restoration was completed between 2002 and 2006. The church is under the care of Father Mario Rosas, and religious ceremonies are still frequently held in the church. The buildings to the south east side of the church have been occupied by merchants throughout the churches' history, and give a good impression of the size and scale of merchant houses in Medieval Brussels. The peculiar orientation of the building is attributed to the flow of the original Zenne river. Of particular interest in the interior of the church are the choir chairs dating from 1381, with medaillons telling the story of St. Nicholas. Free.
- 31 Villa Empain, Franklin Rooseveltlaan 67 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. Villa Empain was designed by Swiss architect Michel Polak as a private residence in Art Deco style, and built between 1930 and 1934 by industrialist Baron Édouard Empain. Unlike similar Art Deco buildings of its time, Villa Empain was decorated with works of many different artists and as a result boasts a greater diversity than for example the Stocklet Palace. Empain donated the property to the Belgian state in 1937, with the intention of turning it into a museum of decorative and contemporary art. The foundation, known as the Le Cambre School hosted various exhibition in the villa until 1943 when the occupying German Wehrmacht requisitioned it during the Second World War. After the war it served as the Embassy of the Soviet Union until the 1970s, when it was occupied by a local TV station and abandoned in the 1990s. The neglected building was purchased in 2000 by Stéphan Jourdain, a shady businessman who proceeded to strip the building from many of its unique artifacts, until the vandalism was discovered by the Brussels Monuments and Sites conversation society that responded by locking down the site in 2001. Once again the building remained abandoned and fell prey to vandalism and squatters until the property was acquired by the Boghossian Foundation in 2008 and extensively renovated. The responsibilty for the renovation was given to French architect Francis Metzger who previously had successfully completed renovations of the Solvay Library and the Central Station. With a budget of €4 million, the aim of the renovation was to restore the villa to its 1934 outlook. From its inauguration as a musem and art exhibition center in 2010, the villa has hosted many concerts, conferences and cultural events, for which it was awarded the European Prize for Cultural Heritage in 2011. It is open to the public and can be visited, along with a museum souvenir shop and a café. Adults €10, seniors €8, students €4.
- 32 Tintin Mural, Stoofstraat 33. 24/7. A 36m² mural of Tintin, one of Belgium's most famous comic book heroes, and his sidekick Captain Haddock escaping the building on an emergency ladder. The mural was painted by Georgios Oreopoulos and David Vandegeerde in 2005, and is one of over 50 comic book themed murals in Brussels. The project started in 1993, when deputy Michel Van Roye banned ugly advertising panels within the inner city, and the Comic Book Museum (Stripmuseum) suggested to fill the liberated areas on building walls with large murals after the example of Angouleme where a similar comic book wall existed, a work of Erro from 1985. The collection of murals is still expanded very year, and travelers will encounter many in the inner city. Free.
- 33 Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon (Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ten Zavelkerk), Regentschapsstraat 9 ( ). The history of this Roman Catholic church dates back to the early 13th century when Henry I, Duke of Brabant, recognized the Noble Serment of Crossbowmen as a guild, thereby granting them privileges and allowing them to build a small chapel on a plot of land just outside the city walls, then known as the Zavel after the structure of the sand. It became known as the chapel of the Crossbow Guild. According to the legend, a local devout named Beatrijs Soetkens, had a vision in which the Virgin Mary instructed her to steal a statue from the cathedral of Antwerp, bring it to Brussels, and place it in the chapel of the Crossbow Guild. Through some miraculous events she managed to bring the statue to Brussels by boat in 1348, and venerated as the patron of the Guild. From then on, they held an annual procession through the city, called the Ommegang, which grew into an important religious event. The construction of the current church, which replaced the chapel, started in the 15th century and lasted almost a century. The choir was finished in 1435, as testified by mural paintings of that date. In the 16th century the church was sacked by Calvinists, and the statue brought by Beatrijs Soetkens was destroyed. After demolition of the city walls and completion of the Regentschapsstraat in 1872, numerous buildings constructed adjacent to the church were torn down, and the construction turned out to be heavily dilapidated. Renovations were carried out immediately, and the church was restored to its former glory. With its 24 m width and 65 m height, it remains one of the most important gothic brabantine churches in Belgium. Free.
- 34 Royal Greenhouses (Koningklijke serres), Koninklijke Parklaan ( ), ☎ . The Roal Greenhouses are a vast complex of monumental heated greenhouses in the park of the Royal Castle, containting a variety of tropical, sub tropical and temperate plants and trees. The history of the greenhouses dates back to the 18th century, when king Leopold II changed the layout of the surrounding garden and commissioned architect Alphonse Balat to design a series of greenhouses. Starting in 1874, the construction of the greenhouses took over 20 years and was finalized in 1895 with the erection of the Iron Church, a domed greenhouse which would originally serve as the royal chapel. The largest greenhouse, the dome shaped Winter Garden, has a diameter of 60 m and a height of 30 m, designed in an art nouveau style with iron and glass as construction materials. With a floor surface of 25 000 m², the numerous greenhouses are connected with glass covered galleries and locks to retain temperature differences appropriate for the vegetation. Over 800 m³ of oil is burned each year to maintain the temperature. The botanical collection includes numerous species from Africa, although many cultivars have been lost since the death of king Leopold II. The camellias collection in particular, with over 1000 plants, is the world's oldest and largest collection in a greenhouse. The complex can only be visited by the public during a two-week period in April-May when most flowers are in full bloom, as dictated by Leopold II and followed as a tradition by all kings thereafter. Free.
- 35 St. Hubert Royal Galleries (Sint Hubertusgalerijen) ( ), ☎ . 24/7. Considered one of the world's first shopping malls, the galleries preceded other famous 19th century shopping arcades such as those in Milan and St. Petersburg. It has twin facades with glazed arcaded shopfronts separated by pilasters and two upper floors, all in an Italianate Cinquencento style, under an arched glass-paned roof with delicate cast-iron framework. It consists of 2 sections, each over 100 m in length: the King Gallery (Koningsgallerij) and the Queen Gallery (Koniginnegallerij). They meet at the Butcher's Street (Beenhouwersstraat) with a slight bend, this was introduced intentionally to make the long perspective of the gallery, with its repetiton of arches and windows, less tedious. The complex was designed by Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer who was determined to sweep away the labyrinth of dark alleys between the Grasmarkt and Warmoesberg by replacing it with an upscale shopping area. His idea, conceived in 1836 only a few years after Belgian independence, was finally autorized in 1845. The project met fierce opposition from the local community, which saw much of its property destroyed by the monumental project. Construction started in 1846 and lasted 18 months, when it was inaugurated by King Leopold, the first king of the independent Belgian nation. The galleries remain a shopping district today, but have turned into a tourist trap with inflated prices. They are worth a visit for the architecture and ambience, but don't buy anything there -- the same souvenirs and chocolates sold in the galleries can be found elsewhere in the city at much reduced rates. Free.
- 36 St. Gorik Hall (Sint-Gorikshallen), Sint-Goriksplein 1 ( ). 10:00-18:00 daily. The hall is a former covered marketplace in the middle of St. Gorik Square, and in use as event space and temporary exposition area. Their history dates back to the early days of Brussels, when at its location, multiple small islands existed in the Zenne, the river flowing through (and nowadays underneath) the city. A chapel was erected in the 12th century, which was replaced by a gothic church in the 16th century but destroyed during the French occupation between 1798 and 1801. The city cleared the rubble in 1802 and ordered the construction of a marketplace with as central point a fountain with a pyramidical shape. This fountain dates from 1767 and was a gift form the Abbey of Grimbergen, it is on display in the hall. When the Zenne was covered in 1881 and the neighborhood reorganized, construction of the current hall was commenced. After a design of architect Adolphe Vanderheggen, the building with a facade in Flemish neorenaissance style with steel skeleton was inaugurated a year later and presented a counter and four double rows of market booths. The hall remained in use throughout the first half of the 20th century, but after the Second World War it lost its significance, until closure followed in 1977. Having architectural value, the Brussels Capital Region acquired the building in 1987 and gave it a proteted status. The halls were turned into an information and exposition area in 1999, and have been opened to the public ever since. There is a café inside, but visitors do not need to feel obliged to make a purchase to visit and take a look around. Free.
- 37 Halle Gate (Hallepoort) ( ), e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-F 9:30-17:00, Sa-Su 10:00-17:00. The last surviving city gate, it was part of the second walls of Brussels, and built in 1381 as an extension of the first walls which started to become too small to accommodate the growing Medieval city. It is named after the city of Halle which it faces. The original design included a portcullis and a drawbridge over a moat, the structures that housed these are still visible today. Already in the 16th century, it became evident that the fortifications and gates were insufficient to protect the city against newer siege weapons, and in 1564 the Gate was relieved of her defensive function. The function of the Halle Gate first changed to a prison, later it saw use as a customs house, as grain storage, and as a Lutheran church. At the end of the 18th century the fortifications had lost nearly all their functions, and demolishing started under pressure of the expanding city. Whereas the other 6 city gates were demolished together with the defensive walls, the Halle Gate survived because it of its function as an archive, but maintenance started to be neglected. Between 1868 and 1870, architect Henri Beyaert restored the building, changing the medieval tower to a more Neo Gothic look. The outer entrance, now facing St. Gillis, is closer to the original appearance. Beyaert added a circular tower topped by a conical roof, containting a monumental spiral stairase, as well as turrets and a lare roof. The Gate became a museum in 1847 when it was assigned to the Musuem of Armour, Antiquity and Ethnology (now named the Royal Museums for Art and History). It soon became too small, and in 1889 the collection was moved to the Centenary Museum. By 1976 the building was in a dangerous state of disrepair which forced it to be closed to the public. Lack of funding stalled restorations, and part of the Gate was reopened in 1991 but only for temporary exhibitions. New extensive restorations began in 2007, and the Gate was returned to its 19th-century glory a year later when it reopened with its prestigious entrance completely restored. The Gate houses a permanent exhibition on its history, and on the defenses of the city. The collection includes parade armor of Archduke Albert of Austria, among many other armaments and armour. The Guild Room offers an impression on the history and importance of guilds in medieval Brussels. The walkway around the battlements offers visitors a wonderful panorama of the city. adults €7, seniors €5, childen and students €3.
- 38 Botanical Garden (Kruidtuin), Koningsstraat 236 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The original botanical garden is used as a park and its greenhouse as a concert venue. It started in the 18th century as a small plot in the garden of the former palace of Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine, but it became under threat in 1826 when the Royal Library and several other projects sought to reclaim the area. To preserve the collection, a collective of herbalists and botanists acquired a new plot of land just outside the city walls, which by then consisted of a collection of ponds, woods and allotments. The area was reorganized by architect Charles-Henri Petersen, and opened as the botanical garden of the city in 1829, just before Belgium gained its independence. The garden saw expansions in 1842 and 1854 and became popular among locals who, in those days, did not have the opportunity to travel, and saw many exotic plants in the garden for the first time. Although the garden was sponsored by the government from 1837 onwards, mismanagement caused the garden to slip into debt, and the owners were forced to sell land to allow construction of the North Station, and also started to sell off the botanical collection itself, which endangered the original didactic and scientific purposes of the garden. The government intervened and purchased the garden in 1870, thereby preserving its panorama and function as a park and for scientific purporses. Many areas saw reconstruction, and many decorations, rock arrangements, greenhouses etc. date from this period. The garden flourished and remained popular, but became under increased pressure by civil construction projects, most notably the expansion of the North-South railway link, the expansing of the inner ring causeway after the city walls were demolished, and the St. Lazare street which slices the park. It became impossible to maintain the botanical collection, and it was decided to move it to Meise, a town to the North of Brussels near Grimbergen. The park underwent its last restauration in 1958 for the World Fair, when architect René Pechère harmonized it after the relocation of much of the collection to Meise. It became a protected monument in 1964. Curiously, the botanical garden is credited with the invention of witloof, a local specialty, and the dark outgrowns of chicory. According to an urban legend, witloof was first created in the mushroom cellar of the botanical garden when Frans Breziers forced chicory to grow in the dark in 1850. Witloof is nowadays a popular vegetable in Brussels and Flanders, and can be purchased in most grocery stores in season. Its white leaves are refreshing and crunchy, although they have a rather bitter taste. It can be eaten fresh, or takes on a sweeter taste after cooking. Free.
- 39 Grand Place (Grote Markt) ( Central Station, Central Station or De Brouckère). 24/7. Surrounded by beautiful 300-year-old buildings. In the evening, lit by bright illumination, it is simply ravishing. Some evenings a music and light show is provided with the buildings serving as a canvas. Have a Belgian waffle with caramelized sugar here — the best ones are available from the little shops off the northeast corner of the Grand Place. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Free.
- 40 City Hall (Stadhuis), Grote Markt. The oldest part of the present Town Hall is its east wing (to the right when facing the front). This wing, together with a shorter belfry, was built and completed in 1420 under direction of Jacob van Thienen. Initially, future expansion of the building was not foreseen, however, the admission of the craft guilds into the traditionally patrician city government apparently spurred interest in providing more room the building. As a result, a second, somewhat longer wing was built on to the existing structure, with Charles the Bold laying its first stone in 1444. This left wing was built by Guillaume de Voghel who in 1452 also built the Magna Aula at the Coudenberg. The facade is decorated with numerous statues representing nobles, saints, and allegorical figures. The present sculptures are reproductions; the originals have been moved to the city museum. The 96-meter tall tower in Brabantine Gothic style emerged from the plans of Jan van Ruysbroek, the court architect of Philip the Good. By 1454 this tower replacing the older belfry was completed. Above the roof of the Town Hall, the square tower body narrows to a lavishly pinnacled octagonal openwork. Atop the spire stands a 5-meter tall gilt metal statue of the archangel Michael, patron saint of Brussels, slaying a dragon or devil. The tower, its front archway and the main building facade are conspicuously off centre relative to one another. According to legend, the architect upon discovering this "error" leaped to his death from the tower. More likely, the asymmetry of the Town Hall was an accepted consequence of the scattered construction history and space constraints. After the bombardment of Brussels in 1695 by a French army under the Duke of Villeroi, the resulting fire completely gutted the Town Hall, destroying the archives and the art collections. The interior was soon rebuilt, and the addition of two rear wings transformed the L-shaped building into its present configuration: a quadrilateral with an inner courtyard completed by Corneille Van Nerven in 1712. The Gothic interior was revised by Victor Jamar in 1868 in the style of his mentor Viollet-le-Duc. The halls have been replenished with tapestries, paintings, and sculptures, largely representing subjects of importance in local and regional history. The Town Hall accommodated not only the municipal authorities of the city, but until 1795 also the States of Brabant. In 1830, a provisional government assembled here during the attempt of the Third French Revolution which provoked the separation of the Southern Netherlands from the Northern Netherlands, resulting in the formation of Belgium as is known now. At the start of World War I, as refugees flooded Brussels, Town Hall served as a makeshift hospital. On 20 August 1914, the occupying German army arrived at the Grand Place and hoisted a German flag at the left side of the Town Hall. The Town Hall has been designated a historic monument since 9 March 1936.
- 41 King's House (Broodhuis), Grote Markt. A 19th-century building hosting the Brussels City Museum, with an extensive collection items of the city's history. The Dutch name Broodhuis (literally bread house) dates from the 13th century, when a wooden hut existed on the grand place where bakers sold their bread. It was replaced by a stone building in 1405, but at the beginning of the 15th century it was gradually abandoned when bakers started selling their wares door to door. The vacant building was then occupied by the Duke of Brabant, turning it into an administrative centre, and renaming it to Duke's House ('s Hertogenhuys). It later became the property of emperor Charles V, but its condition soon deteriorated due to lack of maintenance, and was razed to the ground at orders of the emperor. This architect Antoon II Keldermans was commissioned to design a new building in Gothic style, the plans finished in 1514 and construction was carried uit from 1515 to 1536. After Keldermans' death, subsequent architects finished the building. Under Spanish reign, queen Isabella of Spain ordered the renovation of the facade in 1625 and placed it under protection of the Holy Mary foundation. During French bombardments in 1695, the building was damaged to such an extent that extensive maintenance was required, but due to lacking finances this was limited to the minimal efforts to prevent collapse. Only in 1767 a second renovation was carried out. Taken over by the city of Brussels in the 1860, the house was renamed House of the People (Volkshuis), but fell prey to decay a second time and razed at the end of the 19th century, then reconstructed in neo-Gothic style, which was very popular at the time. It was one of the achievements of major Carl Buls, known for his progressive ideas, and Jules Anspach. Construction responsibilities were assigned to architect Pierre-Victor Jamaer, who constructed the building based on the original plans of Antoon Keldermans. Construction started in 1873 and took over 20 years and cost 2 million francs, which was a fortune at the time. It became the best example of neo-Gothic style in Belgium, and assigned the function of city museum in 1887. From 1895 to 1895, the belfry's carillon featured 49 bells, which were planned to be extended by another 6 bells in 1895, and moved to the City Hall's belfry. However, this was never carried out because of the failing mechanism of the carrillon, and it was eventually removed from the Belfry completely in 1898. The belfry has remained empty ever since. Since 1998 the King's House is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It hosts many statues that used to decorate the City Hall and were removed and replaced with replicas to preserve the originals. Over 500 costumes of Mannenken Pis are stored in the basement of the King's House, and a smaller selection is on display.
- 42 Everard t'Serclaes monument, Grote Markt (De Sterre gallery, south-west of the Grand Place). 24/7. Sculpture from Brussels artist Julien Dillens, commemorating Everard t'Serclaes (1320-1388). t'Serclaes was a Brussels citizen who gained fame with his recovery of the city from the Flemings. After the death of John III of Brabant in 1355, his daughter Joanna and her busband Wenceslaus succeeded him as the rules of the duchy. The count of Flanders, Louis de Male, disputed the legitimacy of the succession however, and seized the city after defeating the Brabantian defenders at Scheute. Louis' legions didn't feel much for a long standing occupation of the city, and his garrison was thinly manned. This gave t'Serclaes the chance to gather a group of 66 partisans and scale the city walls in the night of of 24 October 1356. They managed to reach the Grand Place and lowered the Flemish flag from the town hall, replacing it with the Brabantian flag. When Brussels citizens saw the Brabantian flag restored in the morning, they revolted against Louis' occupying forces and drove them out of the city, after 2 weeks of occupation. t'Serclaes became a hero for liberating the city, and after re-entry of Joanna, he was made alderman for 5 terms. His luck didn't last however, and on 26 March 1388 he was ambushed by bandits on his way from Lennik to Brussels, who cut off a foot and ripped out his tongue. The mutilated t'Serclaes was found by civil servants shorty afterwards and carried to Brussels on a cart, where he died 5 days later from his injuries. The scupture of t'Serclaes, erected in 1902, is located under the gallery of De Sterre, where t'Serclaes arrived on the cart and tried to talk to Joanna but couldn't make himself understandable without his tongue. The caption of the sculpture of dying t'Serclaes is Eberhardo t'Serclaes Patriae Liberatori (Eberhardo t'Serclaes, liberator of his city) and Pro aris et focis (For home and hearth). During the interbellum, a salesman of the Sunday market spread the rumor that rubbing the right arm of the sculpture would bring luck, whoever rubbed it would return to Brussels. The sculpture has been intensively rubbed by locals and tourists since, and the original was moved to the town hall after renovation in 2011. The current sculpture is a messing copy.
- 43 Manneken Pis, Stoofstraat 57 (walk south-west from the Grand Place in the street adjacent to the City Hall). 24/7. A short walk from the Grand Place, Manneken Pis can be found, a small bronze statue thought to represent the "irreverent spirit" of Brussels. This is a statue of a child urinating into a pool. Belgians have created hundreds of outfits for this statue. There are many stories of the statue's origins. It is believed to have been inspired by a child who, while in a tree, found a special way to drive away invading troops. Another story goes that a father was missing his child and made a declaration to the city that when he found him he would build a statue of him, doing whatever it was that he was doing. It has also been said a witch turned him to stone for peeing on her property. Yet another story goes that Brussels was under siege and enemies had planted explosives in the city; a boy saw the lit fuse and urinated on it, preventing the explosives from blowing up thus saving the city. The most likely scenario is that it was the location of the market for urine, which was used for its ammonia content to tan leathers. None are definitively true. In 1747, Louis XV's soldiers stole the statue, upsetting many of the city's residents. Louis XV made it up to the city by giving the statue a medal of honor (so that he must be saluted when French soldiers pass by) and by giving him an outfit. He now gets dressed up on special occasions. Although a famous icon of Brussels and a source of inspiration for countless souvenirs, Mannenken Pis is an overhyped attraction that frequently tops polls ranking the world's biggest tourist traps, and definitely not worth a major detour to take a look at. Free.
- 44 Mannenken Pis Wardrobe (GardeRobe Mannenken Pis), Eikstraat 19 (uphill from Mannenken Pis), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. This small museum houses the wardrobe of Mannenken Pis, Brussels' most famous statue. Because Mannenken Pis has nearly 1000 different costumes, of which some historic specimens are sensitive to decay resulting from variations in temperature and humidity, only about 100 costumes are shown to visitors at a time. The collection on display rotates regularly. The costumes in storage can be viewed through an interactive database.
- 1 The Secret of Mannenken Pis, Stoofstraat 69 (further down the street), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Escape The City: The Secret of Mannenken Pis is an outdoor treasure hunt that invites players to explore the history of the inner city, and guides them along numerous iconic locations within the old city walls. Players cross the city in a small team, solve enigmas, and unravel the mysteries of a strange backpack they've been given. Making a reservation in advance is necessary, and it is advised to reserve well in advance. Keep in mind that the weather in Brussels is unpredictable, so late spring and summer are the best seasons to bet on. The treasure hunt takes between 90 and 120 minutes, and is suitable for children from 10 years old. adults €12, children under 16 €9.
- 45 Jeanneke Pis, Getrouwheidsgang 10. 24/7. The female counterpart of Mannenken Pis, Jeanneke (an adaptation of an old local name for girls, Jeanne) is a 0.5 m tall bronze statue depicting a squatting and peeing girl with pigtails. Unlike Mannenken Pis, Jeanneke is a more recent creation, commissioned in 1985 by Denis-Adrien Debouvrie and inaugurated in 1987. Jeanneke's initial purpose was to lure more visitors to the somewhat neglected neighborhood, but it never became as popular as Mannenken Pis, and has been put behind steel bars to protect it against vandalism. Free.
- 46 Het Zinneke (Zinneke Pis), crossing of Kartuizersstraat and Oude Graanmarkt. 24/7. A statue by Flemish artist Tom Frantzen, erected in bronze in 1998. It represents a peeing dog, and the canine counterpart of Mannenken Pis and Jeanneke Pis. Although often referred to as Zinnenken Pis, that name is formally incorrect according to the author. The name is derived from the river originally flowing through (and nowadays underneath) the city, Zenne, and a pejatory historic name for inhabitants of Brussels, Zinnekens. It is also a Dutch play on words of Zin hebben in which means having a desire to. The sculpture was struck by a car in 2015 and slightly damaged, it has since been restored by its creator. Many argue that Het Zinneke is the most esthetically pleasing of the 3 peeing statues in Brussels, although Mannenken Pis remains the most popular. Free.
- 47 Cinquantenaire Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire - Jubelpark) ( , exit at Schuman and walk east or exit at Merode and walk west). 24/7. Park with monumental arch commemorating the 50th anniversary of Belgium's independence. It is possible to go up to the terrace above the arch, from where you'll have a good view of the city. Entry is through the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History and is free, but a supplement must be paid for access to the arch. Any backpacks or luggage must be stored in small lockers at the entrance, so don't take too many belongings along if you plan to enter the museum. The arch is beautifully lit at night, and usually less crowded. Free.
- 48 Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula (Sint-Goedele kathedraal), Sint-Goedeleplein, Treurenberg, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 7:30-18:00, Sa 7:30-15:30, Su 14:00-18:00. Recognizable as a copy of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, the cathedral of Brussels has a long history. A chapel dedicated to St. Michael was built on the Treurenberg hill as early as the 9th century, which was replaced by a Romaneque church in the 11th century. Relics of martyr St. Gudula were donated by the Count of Leuven in 1047, and by the 13th century the Duke of Brabant, Henry I, ordered the addition of 2 towers to the small church. It was only in 1226 that his successor, Henry II, instructed the construction of a ghotic church. The choir was completed by 1276, but it took over 300 years to finish the entire cathedral, just before the reign of emperor Charles V began in 1519. The dimensions of the monumental building are impressive: with an exterior lenght of 114 m by 57 m in width, and towers of 64 m heigh, the cathedral remains one of the largest and tallest buildings in the city to date. It is constructed with a light colored stone quarried from the Gobertange quarry 45 km south-east of the site. The two towers, the upper parts of which are arranged in terraces, are a design from Flemish architect Jan Van Ruysbroeck, who also designed the tower of the Town Hall on the Grand Place. The south tower hosts a carillon with 49 bells, of which the Salvator bell was cast by Peter van den Gheyn. The choir is gothic and contains the mausoleums of the Dukes of Brabant and Archduke Ernest of Austria, dating from the 17th century. The marble and alabaster altarpiece depicting the Passion of the Christ by Jean Mone is dated 1538. Since the 1990s, the cathedral towers have been the home of a couple of falcons nesting in the northern tower. With the falcon chicks performing acrobatic feats on the cathedral's gargoyles, a camera was installed broadcasting a live stream of their adventures. Free.
- 49 Poelaert Square (Poelaertplein) ( ). 24/7. Poelaert Square, named after the architect of the adjacent Palace of Justice, is the largest square in Brussels and provides a the best view point over the city. On the border between the upper and lower city, the square is located on Gallows Hill (Galgenberg), where in Medieval Brussels convicts were executed on the gallows. Famously, anatomist Andreas Vesalius frequented Gallows Hill to collect corpses of executed convicts for his anatomical research. When the weather is clear, Poelaert square offers a view over the north-western part of the city, including the city hall, the Koekelberg basilica, and the Atomium. A free elevator connects Poelaert square with the Marollen quarter of the lower city.
- 50 Law Courts (Justitiepaleis), Poelaertplein ( ), ☎ . M-F 08:00-17:00. Built between 1866 and 1883 in eclectic style by celebrated architect Joseph Poelaert, the Courts are the most important of their kind in Belgium. The total cost of the construction, land and furnishings was 45 million Belgian Francs, or 1.1 million euro. A notable landmark in Brussels, it is said to be the largest building constructed in the 19th century, and larger than the St. Peter's basilica in Rome: it is 160 m by 150 m, with a total build surface of 26.000 m². The 104 m high dome weighs 24.000 tons. The building has 8 courtyards with a surface of 6.000 m², 27 large court rooms and 245 smaller court rooms. Its conception started in 1860, when Belgium was only 30 years old, during the reign of King Leopold I who announced the building of the courts with a royal decree, followed by an international architectural contest for its design. All entered designs were found to be unacceptable and rejected however, and then minister of justice Victor Tesch appointed Joseph Poelaert as the designer. Poelart died in 1879, 4 years before the building was finally completed. For its construction, a section of the Marollen neighborhood had to be demolished, leading to the expropriation and forced relocation of hundreds of inhabitants. As a result, the word architect became one of the most serious insults in Brussels! Ironically, Poelaert himself lived in a house only a few hundred meters away of the construction site, in the Marollen. The location of the courts is symbolic, being the hill where convicted criminals were hanged during the Middle Ages. The building includes many interior statues by sculptor Pierre Armand Cattier, and figures of Roman jurists Cicero and Ulpian, by Antoine-Félix Bouré. According to a story, Adolf Hitler was so fond of the building that he dispatched Albert Speer to study it in 1940. Events turned out unfavorably however, and at the end of the Second World War, the retreating Germans started a fire in the courts in an attempt to destroy them, leading to the collapse of the cupola and heavily damaging other parts of the building. By 1947 most of the damage was repaired, and the cupola rebuilt 2.5 meters higher than the original. In 2003 a new series of renovations have begun, aiming to strengthen the roof structure and walls, and applying a new layer on the gilded cupola. Because of financial problems the renovation works are progressing slowly, however, and in 2013 it was determined that the decade-old scaffolding was, ironically, in need of renovation itself because it had started to rust and became unsafe. Free.
- 51 Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Basiliek van Koekelberg), Basiliekvoorplein/Parvis de la Basilique, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The fifth biggest church in the world, with an impressive interior and an amazing view over Brussels and its surroundings.
- 52 Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis/Palais Royal), Place des Palais/Paleizenplein (across Warande Park), ☎ . The ceremonial royal palace, where foreign statesmen are received by the King of Belgium. Free when open, from the National Holiday of 21 July until September. Closed otherwise.
- 53 The Bourse. Former stock market building. Locals like to sit on the steps, sometimes with fries. A local restaurant owner has proposed turning the unused building into a beer hall.
The Heysel (Heizel in Dutch) is a plateau in the north of Brussels, best known for hosting the 1935 and 1958 World Fairs. The Centenary Palace and Atomium are famous remnants of these World Fairs. Built at what were in 1935 the outskirts of the city, the Heysel is relatively far away from the Brussels city center and can be reached easiest by metro. Take 3 Heysel/Heizel, the second last station on the line. The journey takes about 30 minutes from Grand Place when taking the metro at Central Station and requires a transfer at 4 Beekkant or 5 West Station.direction Koning Boudewijn and get off at
- 54 Atomium, Square de l'Atomium/Atomiumplein (5 min walk from Heizel station), ☎ . Daily 10:00-18:00. Ticket sales end at 17:30. Unavoidable icon of Brussels and Belgium, important place for international tourism, unique creation in the history of architecture and emblematic vestige of the World Fair in Brussels (Expo 58) the Atomium continues to embody its ideas of the future and universality, half a century later. In its cultural programme it carries on the debate of 1958: What kind of future do we want for tomorrow? Our happiness depends on what? Its renovation in 2006 gave its original brightness back, and the new equipments guarantee its durability. Five of the nine spheres are open to the public (so they say, but not really true). One of them is housing a permanent exhibition dedicated to Expo 58 (just some small models of some countries pavilions). Another sphere is dedicated to temporary exhibitions with scientific themes (often closed when there is no exhibition). The upper sphere offers spectacular views of the city of Brussels. When the sky is clear, the view reaches till Antwerp. There is a "kids zone" sphere which staff will happily direct you to even though you can never go in, it is only open to touring schoolchildren, and there is nothing inside except places for kids to sleep. In truth there are only three spheres: the top (restaurant), middle (snack bar) and bottom; the only thing to see really is the view; rather expensive at €11. The restaurant, also situated at the top, is open every day till 23:00 At night, the nine spheres are lit up with 2,970 lights that offer a very special show. To enrich your visit: audioguides in English (but also in French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian and Russian) are available at the cash desk for €2. Visio-guides are also available (€2) for the deaf and hard of hearing people. A zip-line is available from the top of the tallest sphere (102m); the "Death Ride" (run by former members of the Belgian Special Services) is a separate €25, and offers a rather unique view of the insides of the Atomium and the surrounding city. Children of less than 6 years, coach drivers, disabled persons: free, children as from 6 years till 11 years: €2, adults: €12, teachers showing their teacher card: €9, children as from 12 till 18 years, students showing their student card and seniors (as from 65 years): €8.
- 55 Centenary Palace (Eeuwfeestpaleis), Belgiëplein 1, e-mail: email@example.com. The construction of the halls started in 1935, when 5 halls were built for the 1935 World Fair. Hall 5, informally known as the Centenary Palace, was the most ornamental of the first 5 halls and is still in use. After the World Fair, expositions, trade fairs, congresses and other events took place in the halls. At the end of the 1940s Palace 4 was added, by 1957 also Palaces 7, 8, 9 and a Patio, in preparation of the 1958 World Fair. In 1977 Palace 11 was added, in 1989 Palace 12, and in 1993 the Auditorium. The 32th edition of the Eurovision Song Festival took place in the Centenary Palace in 1987. Nowadays it is also used for several concerts, usually for bigger acts and artists.
- 56 Mini-Europe (Mini-Europa), Brupark, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10 March - 30 June: 9:30-18:00, 1 July - 31 August: 9:30-20:00, 1 September - 30 September: 9:30-18:00, 1 October - 6 Janary: 10:00-18:00, 24/12 and 31/12: 10:00-17:00. A miniature park at the foot of the Atomium, Mini-Europe has reproductions of monuments of the European Union on show, at a scale of 1:25. Over 80 cities and 350 buildings are represented. The park also features live action models of trains, mills, cable cars etc, and an erupting Vesuvius. The monuments were chosen for the quality of their architecture or European symbolism. Most of the monuments were made using moulds and cast in epoxy resin, but newer models are made in polyester. Three models are made out of stone, including the Tower of Pisa in marble, and computer assisted 3D milling was used to create them. Some of the models require massive undertakings, the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela required over 24.000 hours of work, and the scale model of the Brussels Grand Place itself cost 350.000 euro to build. The landscape is completed by plants, dwarf trees, bonsais, bushes and flowers, creating the impression of a garden. €12.90 Adults; €9.70 under 12.
- 57 Brussels Design Museum (ADAM), Belgiëplein 1, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 10:00-18:00. Museum centered around product design. The permanent collection is the Plasticarium, featuring 2.000 pieces, from everyday objects to pieces of art, from the post-modernism to pop-art, the utopia of everything in plastic. Featured works are from Joe Colombo, Maurice Calka, Verner Panton, Aero Aarnio, Pierre Paulin and Philippe Starck. This unique collection was put together since the beginning of the 80's by the Brussels collector Philippe Decelle. Temporary exhitibtions are changing every 4 to 6 months. It is located in the Trade Mart and officially opened on 11 December 2015. The eye catch staircase at the entrance was designed by Jean Nouvel. 10€.
- 58 Planetarium, Avenue de Bouchout (Adjacent to Mini-Europe), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F: 09:00-17:00, Sa–Su: 10:00–17:00, plus regular evening events. Wide range of 360° films suitable for all ages, presented in French, Dutch and English. Adults: €7, concessions: €5. There are combo tickets available with Mini-Europe, with Atomium, and with the Mira Observatory in Grimbergen.
Museums of the Far East
The Museums of the Far East consist of 3 Asian buildings on the premises of the Royal domain of Laken: the Japanese Tower, the Chinese Pavilion, and the Museum of Japanese Art. They host art treasures from China and Japan, and are run under the direction of the Royal Museums of Art and History. The idea for an outdoor display of oriental buildings originated with King Leopold II, who had been impressed by the Tour du Monde panorama at the Paris World Exhibition of 1900. The buildings were designed by French architect Alexander Marcel, who was commissioned by King Leopold II with responsability for the project. All 3 musea have been closed because of structural health issues and their collections have been transferred to Jubelpark, but the buildings are also from the outside worth a visit. The musea can be reached from the city center by taking tram direction Esplanade from 6 Beurs or 7 De Brouckere, and getting off at 8 Araucaria. Travel time is approx. 35 minutes.
- 59 Japanese Tower (Japanse Toren), Van Praetlaan 44, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The bright red tower in oriental style stands nearly 50 m tall and hosts Japanese art from before export to the West became common. It features Imari porcelain from the 17th and 18th century, as well as 19th century lacquery, bronze vases, ivory objects and other assorted ornamental items. The exceptional blue-white vase at the entrance was donated in 1910 to the Belgian government by the Japanese emperor. The tower is the center of a replicated Japanese garden. It was originally known as a Tō, a Japanese pagoda, of which construction started in 1901 until its inauguration in 1905.
- 60 Chinese Pavilion (Chinees Paviljoen), Van Praetlaan 44, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Work on the pavilion started in 1905, shorty after completion of the Japanese pagoda. The interior of the pavilion was originally designed as a restaurant, but never used for this purpose. After King Leopold II's death in 1909, the original plan for a museum was abandoned, and the building was donated to the Belgian State where it served as part of the Trade Museum of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The decoration centers around European elements mixed with Chinese oriental architecture. On display are an extensive overview of Chinese ceramics, historically exported to Europe in the 17th and 18th century to decorate the living rooms of kings and nobelty. The pavilion is in the Chinese Garden.
- 61 Museum of Japanese Art (Museum voor Japanse Kunst), Van Praetlaan 44, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The museum building was originally designed as covered garage and parking for carriages and the first cars, but later converted into the present day museum. It hosts a rich collection of traditional Japanese art, primarily dating from the Edo period (1600-1868). The collection features room screens, kimonos, samurai armor and weapons, sword ornaments and hilts, lacquery and inro (storage boxes for jewelry), and netsuke (belt buttons). Some of the Japanese prints are world class, and only on display in alternating series for conservational reasons.
Museums and galleries
- 62 Van Buuren Museum, Leo Erreralaan 41, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. W-M 14:00-17:30. The museum is housed in the villa purchased in 1928 by Dutch banker and patron David van Buuren, with an outdoor architecture typical of the Amsterdam School, and the indoor dectorations are characteristic art deco of the time. Van Buuren collected many rare items of furniture, carpets, stained-glass windows, sculptures, paintings (including many Flemish and Italian masters, and other pieces of art, which are still on display. The villa was turned into a museum in 1975 as requested by Alice van Buuren in her testament. The surrounding gardens, designed by landscape architet Jules Buyssens, are in perfect harmony with the art deco house. The 3 central parts are the picturesque garden, the labyrinth, and the garden of the heart. The picturesque garden in particular stands out, designed in the 1920s following the geometrical ideas of the art deco style. It is open to the public year round. adults €10, sensiors €8, students €5, children under 12 free.
- 63 Antoine Wiertz Museum, Vautierstraat 62 ( Brussel-Luxemburg train station), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-F 10:00-12:0o, 12:45-17:00. The museum, which has preserved its original atmosphere, is dedicated to painter, sculptor and writer Antoine Wiertz (1806-1865), a somewhat controversial artistic figure of the Belgian Romantic movement. Wiertz loved the spectacular, painting giant canvasses to indulge his thirst for the excessive, like the more than 8 m long Greeks and Trojans fighting over the body of Patroclus. Wiertz is also known for his dramatic subjects and horror scenes, such as his Premature Burial. His most famous painting is probably Two Girls (La Belle Rosine), in which a young woman faces a skeleton, reflecting the artist's fascination with death and the fragility of human life. Wiertz also produced numerous portraits and self-portraits. The construction of this workshop-museum in the Léopold district of Brussels was agreed in 1850 between Wiertz and the Belgian government. During the year following the artist's death, the entire collection of works then in his studio was bequeathed to the state. Since 1868, the Wiertz Museum has been part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Free.
- 64 Museum of Original Figurines (MOOF Museum), Grasmarkt 116, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Belgium has a rich history of comics and comic characters, with titles like Suske en Wiske, Jommeke and Kiekeboe known by all Belgian children. Comic character figurines are popular, and the come to live in the MOOF -- Museum of Original Figurines. Visitors are immersed in the third dimension of the 9th art through a unique collection of comic book figurines. The collection is accessibly presented to a wider audience of young and old enthusiasts with numerous well known figures on display, as well as less known characters for a professional audience. Some figurines from American and French comic books are on display as well. Most of the sets are handcrafted by young local artists and students, staging a graphic and colorful universe. Temporary exhibitions are also occasionally hosted. Guided tours cost €85 and last 50-70 minutes. adults €10, students and seniors €7, kids below 12 €3.
Science and technology
- 65 Natural Sciences Museum of Belgium (Museum voor Natuurwetenschappen), Vautierstraat 29 (near Brussel-Luxemburg train station), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. daily 09:30-16:45; Sa, Su and during school holidays (except the Summer break) 10:00-18:00; Summer break 09:30-16:45; weekends 10:00-18:00. The museum is well-known for its collection of iguanodons (dinosaurs discovered in the Bernissart coal mine in the Belgian Hainaut province). The dinosaur collection includes discovery activities for the children. Other parts of the museum feature gems and geology, wildlife in Brussels (BiodiverCITY exposition), and the development of life. between €4.50 and €7, free the first Wednesday of each month from 13:00.
- 66 Train World, Prinses Elisabethplein 5, Schaarbeek (in and next to the Schaarbeek train station). Tu-Su 10:00 - 17:00. Belgian train museum, opened in September 2015. €10.
- 67 Autoworld, Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 11 ( or stations Merode or Schuman, tram 81, or bus lines 20, 28, 36, 67, 80), ☎ . Apr-Sep: 10:00-18:00; Oct-Mar 10:00-17:00. Automobiles from the dawn of the motoring age to 1970s including the earliest Mercedes, Renaults, BMW Isettas, Tatras, Ford T-birds, even a jeepney from the Philippines. Adults €6, children €7-133, children 6 and under free.
- 68 Oldmasters Museum, Regentschapsstraat 3, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 10:00-17:00, Sa-Su 11:00-18:00. The museum hosts a remarkable collection of paintings from the Old Masters, with masterpieces from Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Drik Bouts, Hans Memling, Hieronymus Bosch and many others. For the 16th century, Pieter Bruegel the Elder is magnificently represented with major works like The Fall of the Rebel Angels or The Census at Bethlehem. The 17th and 18th centuries are covered by work from the Flemish School, represented by Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacques Jordaens, with minor works from the Italian and French schools on display as well. The majority of the collection originated during the French Revolution, when many works of art were seized by the occupating forces, works from religious institutions in particular. The museum was founded in 1801 by Napoleon Bonaparte himself, but it was only in 1830 after Belgium gained independence that the museum became a major institution. The last major addtion to the collection dates from 1913, when de Grez donated over 4 000 works on paper dating from the 16th to 19th centuries, including works from Hendrick Goltzius, Jacques de Gheyn the Younger, and Rembrandt. Admission to the museum is free on the 1st Wednesday of each month. adults €8, seniors €6, children €2, below 15 free.
- 69 Meunier Museum, Abdijstraat 59, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-F 10:00-12:00; 12:45-17:00. A small museum dedicated to the work and life of Constantin Meunier, a Belgian painter and sculptor. He made important contributions to the development of modern art by elevating the image of the industrial worker, docker and miner to an icon of modernity. His work reflects the industrial, social and political developments of his day. The museum is housed in the last residence in which Meuneir lived and worked, a beautiful studio. Sheltering an extensive collection of over 700 works, the house was acquired by the Belgian government in 1936, and after a renovation of 3 years opened in 1939 to the public as museum. Over 150 of his works are displayed there, the remainder in the Museum of the Turn of the Century. Free.
- 70 Cinquantenaire Museum (Musée du Cinquantenaire - Jubelpark Museum), Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark 10, ☎ . Tu-F 09:30-17:00, Sa Su and holidays 10:00-17:00. Part of the Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis (KMKG) - Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (MRAH) (Royal Museums of Art and History) group of museums. This museum has an important collection of art objects from different civilizations from all over the world. The museum was founded in 1835 and was in the Hallepoort/Porte de Hal, one of the last remaining medieval city gates of Brussels. The gate is still operated as a separate museum by the same museum foundation. €8.
- 71 Horta Museum, Rue Américaine 25, Saint-Gilles/Amerikastraat 25, Sint-Gillis (tram 81, tram 92 (place Janson), bus 54), ☎ , fax: . Tu-Su 14:00-17:30. The home of noted Belgian Art Nouveau architect and designer Victor Horta. Seeing where he lived and worked is a great way to get an introduction to the art nouveau style in Brussels. It is one of four Horta works to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It can be very busy on rainy Sundays and the queue is outside, so don't forget your umbrella. Adults €10, students/seniors €3.50, guided tours available by appointment.
- 72 Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique - Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium), Rue de la Régence-Regentschapstraat 3, at Place Royale-Koningsplein, ☎ . Museum of Historical Art: Tu-Su 10:00-12:00, and 13:00-17:00; Museum of Modern Art (Magritte Museum) Mar: Tu-Su 10:00-13:00, and 14:00-17:00. Features both historical art and modern art in the one building. In a vast museum of several buildings, this complex combines the Musée d'Art Ancien-Museum voor Oude Kunst and the Musée d'Art Moderne-Museum voor Moderne Kunst under one roof (connected by a passage). The collection shows off works, most of them Belgian, from the 14th to the 20th century, starting in the historical section, with Hans Memling's portraits from the late 15th century, which are marked by sharp lifelike details, works by Hiëronymus Bosch, and Lucas Cranach's Adam and Eve. You should particularly seek out the subsequent rooms featuring Pieter Brueghel, including his Adoration of the Magi. Don't miss his unusual Fall of the Rebel Angels, with grotesque faces and beasts. But don't fear, many of Brueghel's paintings, like those depicting Flemish village life, are of a less fiery nature. Later artists represented include Rubens, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt. Next door, in a circular building connected to the main entrance, the modern art section has an emphasis on underground works - if only because the museum's eight floors are all below ground level. The collection includes works by van Gogh, Matisse, Dalí, Tanguy, Ernst, Chagall, Miró, and local boys Magritte, Delvaux, De Braekeleer and Permeke. Don't miss David's famous "Death of Marat." €8 adults per museum or €13 combo ticket, €2.50 students/seniors/disabled visitors, €1.25 children 12-18, under 12 free. Also free on the first Wednesday afternoon of every month.
- 73 Musée Juif de Belgique - Joods Museum van België (Jewish Museum of Belgium), 21 Rue des Minimes-Miniemenstraat 21, ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Dedicated to the craft, folk art, culture and religion of the Jewish people in Belgium. Standard rate: €5, Concession €3.
- 74 Musée Magritte Museum, 1 Place Royale-Koningsplein 1, ☎ , fax: . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00 W until 29:00. Closed Mondays, Jan 1, 2nd Th of Jan, May 1, Nov 1 and 11, Dec 25. This museum is dedicated to the life and art of the Belgian artist René Magritte. It holds a multidisciplinary collection containing more than 200 of Magritte's works. Standard rate: €8, Combi with Modern & Ancient Art Museum: €13, Students 18-25 years and school groups min. 12 pers.: €2. Audioguide: €4.
- 75 Museum of the Turn of the Century (Musée Fin-de-Siècle), Regentschapsstraat 3, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 10:00-17:00, Sa-Su 11:00-18:00. The museum is deidcated to art of the period between 186, when the Free Society of Fine Arts was founded in Brussels, and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The museum opened in 2013 and houses a collection of artworks from Constantin Meunier, James Ensor, Henri Evenepoel, Fernand Khnopff, Léon Spillaert and many others. It aims to celebrate the richness of the period in literature, architecture, photogrpahy, opera, music and poetry, featuring works by Maurice Maeterlinck, Emile Verhaeren, Octave Maus, Victor Horta, Henry Van de Velde, Maurice Kufferath, and Guillaume Lekeu. The artworks are grouped into 4 themes: Discovery of matter, in other eyes, Eruption of color, enchantment of light, New expressions, and Modernity. Free admission to the museum the 1st Wednesday of each month from 13:00. adults €8, seniors €6, children and students €2, children below 5 free.
- Museum Kanal (Centre Pompidou), Akenkaai, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 12:00-22:00, closed on Tuesdays. Museum for modern art in a former Citroën showroom. €14.
- 76 BELvue Museum (Musée BELvue), Paleizenplein-Place des Palais 7, ☎ . Jun-Sep: Tu-Su 10:00-18:00; Oct-May: Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Features Belgium's history. Before it became a museum, the 18th-century luxury hotel was a royal residence. BELvue: €3, Coudenberg: €4, BELvue + Coudenberg: €5.
- 77 Belgian Army Museum and Museum of Military History (Koninklijk Museum van het Leger en van de Militaire Geschiedenis - Musée Royal de l'Armée), Jubelpark-Parc du Cinquantenaire 3 ( or stations Merode or Schuman, tram 81, or bus lines 20, 28, 36, 67, 80), ☎ . Daily 09:00-16:45. In the north wing of the Cinquantenaire Palace, this museum provides an overview of the development of military technology and of the major campaigns fought on Belgian territory. The museum has three principal sections: Belgian military history (documents, uniforms and weaponry from the Middle Ages to the present day, including a most comprehensive collection of medieval arms and armor); the Armored Vehicle Hall with artillery, tanks, etc. from the two World Wars; and the Air Section (Brussels Air Museum) with a collection of aircraft from World War I onwards. The Brussels Air Museum's high point is its collection of original aircraft from World War I. €8.
- 78 Belgian Comic Strip Center (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, Belgisch Centrum van het Beeldverhaal), Rue des Sables-Zandstraat 20, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. It's in Europe's earliest shopping mall (a shiny Jugendstil/Art Nouveau palace). There is a permanent exposition featuring the early beginning of comics and its development. There is enough room for other varying expositions. The bookshop at the ground floor sells many different comics. A readers' library operates on the ground floor, where, for a low entrance fee, you can read many different comic books and buy fries. €10 adults, €6 students/seniors.
- Musée du Cinéma-Filmmuseum, Palais des Beaux-Arts-Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, 9 rue Baron Horta-Baron Hortastraat 9 (walk from Gare Centrale-Centraalstation), ☎ . A history of film-making. Free to look around; classic and cult films are shown at low prices.
- 79 Musical Instruments Museum (Musée des Instruments de Musique or Muziekinstrumentenmuseum), Montagne de la Cour-Hofberg 2, ☎ . Tu-F 09:30-16:45, Sa Su 10:00-16:45. The museum houses more than 7000 instruments, from all times and all over the world. The museum’s reputation is built on its extraordinary collection. The exhibits are displayed on four different floors featuring a wide range of instruments from all time periods and areas of the world. The MIM is a place to experience music. An infrared headphone system allows each visitor to enjoy the sound and melodies played by the instruments presented. The restaurant on the roof is also famous because of its panoramic view over Brussles. You need around 3 or 4 hours to really enjoy the whole museum, make sure you have enough time! The ornate façade of the building was decorated as such to promote the work of local tradesman and to protest the loss of jobs due to automation. Adults €8; over 65 €6; under 26 €2.
- 80 Bruxella 1238, Beursstraat ( stations Beurs or De Brouckère), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Guided tour at 10:15 on first Wednesday of every month. From 1238 onwards the Franciscans were given permission to settle between the Senne river and the Grand Place, which were strategic points in the city in the Middle Ages. This settlement reflects the important role played by these men in the city’s social and religious life. The site knew good times and periods of adversity, expansion, destruction during the Calvinist period and the 1695 bombardment; it was rebuilt several times, only to finally disappear during the French period. In this underground archaeological museum, the history of Belgium’s capital city is told from a different angle.
- 81 Coudenberg Museum (Coudenbergpaleis), Paleisplein 7, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 07:30 - 17:00. From the middle ages, a castle overlooked Brussels from Coudenberg hill. From the 12th century, the successive monarchs and their representatives transformed a small fortified castle into a sumptuous residential palace, one of the most beautiful palace of Europe and one of Charles V’s main residences. This prestigious building is severely damaged by fire in 1731. Some forty years later, the ruins of the palace are pulled down and the ground flattened out for the construction of the new royal district. The remains of this palace make up the Coudenberg archaeological site. During your visit, you will discover the Isabella Street and the old structures of the main buildings of the former palace of Brussels, which are now the foundations for today’s royal district and the Hoogstraeten House where the most interesting discoveries made during the various archaeological excavations conducted on the Coudenberg are displayed. €7.
- 82 Sewer Museum (Riolenmuseum), Octrooipaviljoen - Anderlechtse Poort, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Sa 10:00 - 17:00. The Sewer Museum invites you on an unusual trip into a very hidden side of Brussels but which is absolutely vital for the running of the city. Unlike the other museums, this one is active, with the Senne river playing the leading role. A museum that tells the story of when, why and how the sewers were built, describes the jobs that people do in this underground world and explains the city's water cycle. €8.
Brussels is considered to be the de facto capital of the European Union, having a long history of hosting the institutions of the European Union within its European Quarter. The EU has no official capital, and no plans to declare one, but Brussels hosts the official seats of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Council, as well as a second seat of the European Parliament.
- 83 European Parliament, Rue Wiertz/Wiertzstraat 60 (European Quarter), ☎ , fax: . M-Th at 10:00 and 15:00; F at 10:00 only; closed official holidays. Multimedia-guided tours in all official EU languages. Don't forget to bring an ID card/driver's license with you. Free.
- 84 European Commission, Rue Archimède/Archimedesstraat 73. Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance.
- 85 European Council, Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 175, ☎ , fax: . Guided tours not available. Presentations available for groups of 15 or more, booked in advance.
- 86 House of European History, Rue Belliard 135 / Belliardstraat 135. M 13:00-18:00. Tu-F 09:00-18:00. Sa-Su 10:00-18:00. Closed on international holidays such as Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day, 1 May and 11 November.. This European Union owned museum showcases the history of the European continent and people as well as the revolutions that took place in this part of the world that resulted in the Europe that we can see and feel today. Free entrance.
- 87 Parlamentarium, Wiertzstraat 60 (train to Brussel-Luxemburg station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M 13:00-18:00, Tu-F 09:00-18:00, Sa-Su 10:00-18:00. The Parlamentarium is the visitors' centre of the European Parliament and is in the Parliament's Espace Léopold complex. The official opening was on 14 October 2011 by President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek. The permanent exhibition contains hundreds of multimedia components, explaining the European Parliament and other European Union institutions. The entrance to the centre is on the Parliament's esplanade. Each visitor is provided with a personal multimedia guide which guides them through the exhibition, location is used to display content relevant to each area. It is also needed to activate each installation and shows in-depth information, plays audio using an in-ear speaker and displays short films in the visitor's selected language. All content in the Parlamentarium is available in the 24 official EU languages. Tours are held for children, blind and deaf people. Its most famous exposition is State of deception about propaganda of Nazi Germany. Note that unusually strict security measures enforced at the Parlementarium entrance, with airport style bag and visitor scanners at the entrance. Be prepared to leave restricted items like pocket knives at the security desk, where they can be picked up again at the end of your visit. Lockers are available free of charge to store backpacks. Free.
The Brussels metro and premetro network stretches out over a distance of 52 km under the city, with a total of 69 stations. Each station has a unique theme, and many have been decorated by renowed artists. All metro stations can be visited with a €2.10 Jump ticket, which includes access to the stations and transport between them for a duration of 1 hour.
- 88 Vandervelde, Emile Vanderveldelaan 107 ( direction Stokkel), ☎ . 06:00-00:30. Opened on 7 May 1982, the Vandervelde metro station was named after Belgian politician Emile Vandervelde. The murals on the platform walls are from the hand of artist Paul De Gobert, officially titled La grande Taupe et le petit Peintre, but known as The Four Seasons because it depicts the transition of nature from one season into another. The 360° painting is placed on top of a band in earth colors, representing the geological layers of the underground. The work shows the environment of the station as it used to look before urbanization, thus focusing the viewer's attention on the effect of urbanization on nature. Some of the marshes and willow trees in the murals can still be observed today in the Woluwe valley. The Four Seasons is the largest painting, in surface, in Belgium. €2.10.
- 89 Stokkel (Stockel), Hinnisdaallaan 39 ( terminus station), ☎ . 06:00-00:30. Stokkel opened on 31 August 1988 and is still the terminus station of metro line 1 to the east side of Brussels. Known as Stokkel for the neighbourhood it is in (or Stockel in the ancient Dutch spelling), the murals in the station illustrate over 140 characters from Hergés comic The Adventures of Tintin (Kuifje in Dutch), one of the more populare and internationally known Belgian comic figures. The sketches were drawn by Hergé himself, not long before his death, and completed by Studio Hergé which conserves its heritage. Recommendable for comic and Tintin fans. The metro station is adjacent to a shopping mall, which by itself is also worth a look around. €2.10.
- 90 Eddy Merckx, Josse Leemanslaan 8 ( direction Erasmus), ☎ . 06:00-00:30. This station is one of the most recent additions to the Brussels metro network, inaugurated on 15 September 2003, and serves as a tribute to Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx, best known as five-time winner of the Tour de France. The station is decorated as an Eddy Merckx museum, with objects commemorating the cyclist, including the bicycle on which he set the hour record in 1972. €2.10.
- 91 Belgica, Belgicalaan 59 ( direction Koning Boudewijn), ☎ . 06:00-00:30. Opened in 1982, the station has since 2009 housed a permanent exhibition on climate, centered around the Belgian Antarctic research ship Belgica. A steel sculpture, designed by Camiel Van Breedam, decorates the entrances of the station. The information panels, streching out over the entire length of both platforms are in 3 languages (Dutch, English and French). €2.10.
- 92 Thieffry, Fernand Demanybrug ( ). 06:00-00:30. Metro station opened in 1976 and named after Belgian World War I air ace Edmond Thieffry. It has several interesting sculptures of modern art on display. €2.10.
- 93 Cantillon Brewery, Rue Gheude - Gheudestraat 56, ☎ . M-F 08:30-17:00; Sa 10:00-17:00; closed on Sundays and public holidays. The last traditional gueuze/lambic brewery in Brussels, Cantillon still uses natural yeast fermentation (not injected like almost every other beer). The lambics and gueuzes are made in original style with no sweetners or syrups added. Only 100% bio (organic) and natural fruits are used creating a distinctly sour drink. This museum-esque atmosphere is still a functioning brewery. The tour includes two small glasses of lambic and gueuze, and if you've never had a natural beer before, then you will be (pleasantly) surprised by the taste. An absolute must for beer lovers, save room in your luggage to take bottles back with you! Tour with tasting €10, tasting alone €2.
- 94 Brussels Beer Project, Dansaertstraat 188, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Th-Sa 14:00-22:00. A microbrewery in the heart of the Brussels nightlife district Dansaert, the aim of the project is to experiment with beer brewing techniques. Tours of the brewery are given on Thursdays and Fridays at 16:00, and on Saturdays at 14:00 and 15:00. These last around 15 - 30 minutes, with explanations on the project and the beer brewing processes, and is followed by a beer tasting opportunity involving 4 of the latest creations. Booking in advance is recommended, because only small groups can be welcomed. €12.
Woluwé-Saint-Pierre is a commune in Brussels. It is mostly a well-to-do residential area, which includes the wide, park-lined, Tervuren Avenue (French: Avenue de Tervueren, Dutch: Tervurenlaan) and the numerous embassies near the Montgomery Square (Square Montgomery, Montgomeryplein).
- 95 Bibliotheca Wittockiana, Rue du Bemelstraat 21, ☎ . A museum that is dedicated to the art of binding books, with one of the most prestigious bookbinding collections in the world. Quite interesting. A discovery of forgotten discipline. Amazing use of materials, that unexpectedly gives room to innovation. €5, €3 for reduced ticket. Free on the first Sunday of the month..
- 96 Musée du Transport Urbain Bruxellois-Museum voor het Stedelijk Vervoer te Brussel (Transportation Museum of Brussels), 364 Avenue de Tervuren/Tervurenlaan (Take Metroline 1B (dir. Stockel). Step down at Metro M station Montgomery. There, take Tram 39 (dir. Ban Eik) or 44 (dir. Tervuren) from their terminus. Step down at 6th stop “Depot de Woluwe/Woluwe Remise”. Tram museum is just at your left.), ☎ . Sa Su and holidays 13:30-19:00 from the first weekend of April until the first weekend of October. Old trams are regularly used to link the museum to one of Brussels suburbs, Tervuren, through a very nice wooded area. The trip is especially pleasant on a sunny day. From the end station in Tervuren you can go to a nearby old train station that has been converted to a bar and small restaurant named Spoorloos (literally "without tracks"). €5 Adults, €2 children age 6-11, under 6 free.
- 97 Woluwe Park, Near Avenue de Tervuren (From center, take a tube (Stockel direction), step down at Montgomery station. Take tram 39 or 44. Step down at 4th station Chien vert. Or, by bus 36 if you take it at Schuman station area.).
- 98 City Hall of Woluwé-Saint-Pierre, Avenue Charles Thielemans 93. Open for visitors.
- 99 Saint-Pierre Church, Rue Felix Poels. Erected in 1755 on the site of a much older building and perpendicular to it, with funds from the abbey of Forest. Traces of the older building can still be seen on the left of the current church.
- 99 Stoclet/Stokkel House. Several turn-of-the-century houses and manors can still be seen today, such as the Stoclet/Stokkel House, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which was built between 1905 and 1909 on a design by Josef Hoffmann and contains mosaics and paintings by Gustav Klimt.
Forest (pronounced with a silent "st") is the French name of one of the municipalities surrounding Brussels (the Flemish name is Vorst), known for its historically important abbey, a collection of art deco buildings and a major concert hall. Green and tranquil as the name might suggest, Forest is nevertheless also home to a large portion of Brussels' industrial facilities, including a car factory and the depot used by Eurostar trains.
- 99 Abbaye de Forest, Place Saint-Denis. The Benedictine abbey was built as a priory to women in the 12th century and expanded many times in the following century as it gained importance. The downfall came in the 18th century, when a fire ravaged the convent and later the aftermath of the French Revolution led to its suppression. The remaining building complex has been restored in the 1960s and serves now a community centre.
- Town Hall of Forest. A major art deco monument.
- 99 Church of Saint Augustine, Place de l'Altitude Cent. A white art deco church in the middle of a roundabout.
- 99 Audi factory, Boulevard de la Deuxième Armée Britannique. The former Volkswagen Vorst factory is, as of 2015, the sole production site for the Audi A1. It offers 2-hour guided factory tours in Dutch, English, French and German at different times of the day. Reservations are required in advance via an online applications and availability is limited.
- 99 Wiels, Avenue Van Volxem 354, ☎ . Tu-Su 11:00-28:00. Art exhibition center in a former brewery. On the ground floor the industrial heritage remained well kept. There also is a view platform on the roof. €12 for a normal ticket, €10 for 60+ and €5 for students.
You can see what's going on in Brussels by picking up a copy of local free city newspaper Zone 02. Another good free listings paper is Agenda, which is distributed together with the Dutch-language weekly Brussel Deze Week and has the notable advantage of being published in three languages (English, Dutch, French). They are distributed in cafés and bars around the city. If you're looking for a good party, online listing Net Events (French and Dutch) and Ready2Move, are a good place to start.
Brussels Agenda is the official cultural and entertainment agenda of the City of Brussels and the francophone Médiatheque has a website featuring the upcoming concerts in Brussels and the rest of Belgium. However, their listings page only features concerts Médiatheque staff are interested in.
The most widely read English magazine is The Bulletin which, apart from covering Belgian and EU news, also offers arts and lifestyle stories, as well as in-depth events listings and a TV guide.
- 2 Nemo 33, Stallestraat 333 ( ), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Su 9:00-22:00. With a maximum depth of 34.5 m, Nemo 33 held the record of deepest indoor swimming pool in the world from its opening in 2004 until the completion of Y-40 in Padua, Italy. The pool is filled with 2 500 m³ of non-chlorinated spring water held at a constant temperature of 30° by a solar heating system. The constant warm water temperature allows dives for extended periodes without the need for a dry suit. There are simulated under water caves at a depth of 10 m for training purposes. The complex was designed by Belgian diving expert John Beernaerts as a multipurpose diving instruction, recreactional, and film production facility. It welcomes tourists, amateur divers as well as professional divers, as long as they are over 13 years old and in good health. All divers are required to be either certified or supervised by a trainer, and must have a certified diver as dive buddy. In addition to the pool there is a restaurant with windows in the side walls of the pool, a book shop, a swimwear store, souvenir store, and rooms for other aquatic activities.
- 3 Oceade, Voetballaan 3 ( ), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 10:00-18:00, Sa-Su and holidays 10:00-21:00. The only water park in Brussels, and the largest in the region. Although Oceade can't match the atmosphere of Center Parcs or Aqualibi, it is nonetheless one of the better indoor activities in the city. With 14 water slides, a wave pool, various jacuzzis and a sauna complex, it will easily fill half a day. Attractions for all ages are available: the Hurricane is the fastest water slide in Europe (with an average speed of 40 km/h), the Barracuda is de longest duo slide in Belgium, and the Anaconda the longest family slide with a width of 2.1 m. Don't forget to try the Cameleon, an interactive slide with colorful LEDs that can be customized to preference! With a constant indoor temperature of 29°, Oceade is an ideal refuge when seeking shelter from Brussels' wet and cold climate, although there are outdoor areas as well. With 240 000 visitors per year, Oceade tends to be fairly busy during weekends (which means long waiting lines at water slides) so visiting during week days is recommended. You're expected to bring your own swim gear and towels, but overpriced items can also be purchased at the reception. Note: groups of Moroccans are also known to roam around in Oceade, so keep an eye on younger kids and don't leave your personal belongings unattended. Adults €20 and children €17 for 4 hours, +€2 for a day pass.
- 4 Laken Park (Park van Laken), Wildejasmijnenlaan ( ). 24/7. One of the most beautiful parks of Brussels, dating from the 19th century as an initiative of king Leopold II. It was the kings vision to realize a large public park close to his residence in Laken. He privately purchased the land in 1876 and officially transferred ownership to the Belgian State for the construction of the park. The park was designed by German architect Edouard Keilig, who also designed the better known Ter Kameren Park. Construction took place from 1876 to 1880, in time for festivities for the 50th anniversary of the Belgian nation. It remained a park throughout its history, with the exception of the World's Fair of 1958 when parts of it were claimed for the Fair: several pavillions were built, and the avenues traversing the park were widened. The 99 American theater is the best known remnant of the World Fair in the park. Next to the park is the 99 Belvedere Castle which belongs to the royal family, and is rumored to be inhabited by ghosts.
- 99 Dynasty Monument, Vorstenhuisplein. 24/7. A monument central in the Laken Park, dedicated to king Leopold I. It stands 50 m tall, symbolizing the 50 year independence of Belgium in 1880. The monument was designed by architect Louis De Curte in a neogothic style, and built between 1878 and 1881. Due to delays in construction, it was not finished in time for the jubilee celebrations for 50 years independence. The monument consists of a gallery with 9 bays, one for each of the 9 former Belgian provinces, with a sculpture of king Leopold I by artist Willem Geefs in its centre. The 50 m tall structure is topped with a gilded crown. Above each of hte statues representing the Belgian provinces, a lion (one of the icons of Belgium) holds an escutcheon of the corresponding province. The statues are made by various sculptors, including Thomas Vincotte, Charles Vander Stappen, Adolphe Fassin, Antoine-Joseph Van Rasbourgh, and Charles Brunin. Its isolated location has made the monument a target of vandalism in recent years, and it is currently surrounded by a fence.
- 5 BrewSpot, Getrouwheidsgang, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Interactive workshop teaching participants to brew a traditional Belgian beer in one afternoon, in groups up to 10 people. Starting from the basic concepts, the necessary steps to understand the brewing process are explained and demonstrated. The effect of ingredients and brewing process influence on the beer is illustrated through beer tasting, in different phases, up to the final beer. At the end of the workshop, participants take home a textbook, all the knowledge required to brew a Belgian beer, and the necessary beer tasting skills. For those interested, there is also an advanced brew master course offered, which goes into more detail on the technical aspects of beer brewing. €65.
- 6 Toone Royal Theater, Grasmarkt 66, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. 12:00-02:00. A traditional Brussels' puppet theater, and an authentic café. Housed in a historic building with brick walls and tiles, crumbling plaster and wooden benches, the theater will give you an impression of what Brussels theater is like. The shows are only in French, but you don't need to understand what's being said to enjoy them. A variety of local beers is being served during shows, and afterwards of course. €12, students, seniors and children get a €3 discount on Tuesday and Saturday afternoon.
- Sandeman's Brussels Free Tours, meeting point right outside the City Hall at the Grand Place. Daily tours at 11:00 and 14:00. Informative 3-hour tour. Groups can be large due to the low price! Pay what you wish.
- Brussels Bike Tours, meeting point right outside the Tourist Information Office at the Grand Place, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. From April to October daily at 10:00. From July to September daily at 10:00 and 15:00. Daily bike tours in English allow you to see the main sights in about 3.5 hours. It includes a halfway stop for fries and beer (not included in price). Reservations recommended. General €25 - Full-time students €22.
- 7 Brussels Pub Crawl, At the bottom of the tallest white tower, nearby the big wooden door on Brussels Grand Place, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M W-Sa at 21:30. Free welcome beer, mini beer tasting, party guide, and massive drink discounts. The tour starts at 21:30PM and finishes after 13:00. It visits 4 bars/club in 3 hours. Book on the website or just show up. €7.
- 8 Beer experience in Brussels, Meeting point at the bottom of the tallest white tower, nearby the big wooden door on Brussels Grand Place, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M W-Sa nights at 20:90. One-hour interactive & fun course on beer & Belgian brews. Learn everything you always wanted to know about beer & more. Get to meet other travelers and taste 5 beers for free! That's the fastest way to become a beer snob. Booking is compulsory either on the website or by phone. €14.
- 9 Waffle Workshop, Waffle Workshop starts on Brussels Grand Place, in front of the Tourism Office (biggest white building), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Daily at 15:15. Learn how to make the best Brussels Waffles during this 90' hands on activity! Everything is provided: assistance from start to end, all ingredients, toppings(chocolate, cream, fruits, nutella,...), cookware, take home recipe, a free drink and as many waffles as you can eat! Great for team buildings, stag/hen parties, families & friends. General €28, student €25, kids €18, family €75 (2 adults & 2 kids).
- Visit Brussels Line. 10:00-16:00. Hop-on/hop-off city open-deck double-decker bus tours with commentary. 12 stops around the city, bus departing every 30 minutes. €18.
- Brussels City Tours, Grasmarkt-Rue du Marché aux Herbes 82, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Brussels City Tours is the main bus-tour company, with 2¾-hour tours of all the major sights. €25/€23/€12.50.
- Architectural tours, Boulevard Adolphe Maxlaan 55, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Saturday mornings Mar-Nov, groups year-round. Atelier de Recherche et d'Action Urbaine, a Francophone Brussels heritage conservation group, runs tours of the city's architectural gems, offering a variety of theme tours to Art Nouveau buildings, Art Deco houses, the EU quarter, the Grand Place area and the Marolles/Marollen. 2-hr walking tours €10; 3-hr bus tours €17 (under 26 years €13).
- Horse-drawn carriages, Rue Charles Bulsstraat. Horse-drawn carriages do circuits of the Lower Town starting from Rue Charles Bulsstraat, near Grand Place. €18 per carriage.
Brussels has a fair number of cinemas, if limited compared to most European capitals. French films are subtitled in Dutch, and vice versa, all other films are shown in the original version ("VO") subtitled in French and Dutch (VOstBIL, or if just French then VOstFR).
- Actors Studio, Petite Rue des Bouchers - Kleine Beenhouwersstraat, Brussels 1000, ☎ . Run by the cooperative nouveau cinema. Screens interesting films in their original version with French and Dutch subtitles.
- Styx, Rue de l'Arbre Bénit - Gewijde Boomstraat 72, Ixelles-Elsene. Also run by the cooperative nouveau cinema. Screens interesting films in their original version with French and Dutch subtitles.
- Cinema Wellington. It's in downtown Waterloo with French, Flemish and English spoken films as well as French and Flemish subtitles. Screencasts most mainstream American films as well as French movies. The Wellington Passage - Chaussée de Bruxelles 165, 1410 Waterloo, tel: +32 2 3549359, +32 2 3549359
- Cinema Nova. An independent-to-the-bone cinema showcasing the more esoteric side of cinema - films which would not be shown elsewhere are generally shown here. A Korean Ultraman rip-off, a Pakistani documentary or a bleak Chilean cinema vérité flick? Only at Nova. Nova Cinema, 3 rue Arenberg-Arenbergstraat.
- Cinéma Galeries. An arthouse cinema and exhibition venue within the Saint Hubertus Galleries. Cinéma Galeries, 26 Galerie de la Reine - Koninginnegalerij.
- Musée du Cinema/Filmmuseum. Part of the Centre for Fine Arts, it features a carefully chosen selection of contemporary and classic arthouse films. The best thing about this isn't just the building (due to be restored soon) but also the fact that the entrance fee is cheap. So if you can't live without your dose of Werner Herzog or Jan Svankmajer fret not - this place won't cost you an arm and a leg. Royal Film Museum, 9 Rue Baron Horta - Baron Hortastraat.
- Vendôme, 18 Chaussée de Wavre-Waversesteenweg, Ixelles-Elsene. Another arthouse cinema. It's near the Porte de Namur (Naamsepoort) and acts as the metaphysical gateway to a lively African neighbourhood known locally as Matongé.
- Flagey, Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix Heilig-kruisplein, Ixelles-Elsene. The old broadcasting headquarters and now houses the regional TV station TVBrussel. It labels itself 'the sound and images factory'. Quite an apt description arthouse films, theatre pieces or world-renowned musicians are all featured here.
- UGC De Brouckère. This is the most central UGC in Brussels. Another UGC exists in Ixelles. As far as programming goes it's the usual Hollywood and mainstream European fare you'd expect from any other UGC in Europe. UGC De Brouckère, 38 Place De Brouckère - De Brouckèreplein.
- Kinepolis. This was the first megaplex in the world. It's at Heysel, near the Atomium, and has 25 screens showing a wide selection of mainstream films.
- BIFFF. Brussels' International Fantastic Film Festival (film fantastique in French). This two-week festival is scheduled yearly in March and is a must see for tourist and locals alike.
- Offscreen. A showcase for unusual, independent and unreleased films, cult classics, extraordinary documentaries and offbeat genres from around the world. Takes place during the month of February and/or March in co-production with Cinema Nova and in collaboration with the Film Museum of the Royal Belgian Film Archive.
Brussels has a good selection of year round events, many suitable for English speaking visitors. The following sites are useful to check out what's on.
- Classictic Concerts. A site selling classical tickets, but has an excellent rundown of all the upcoming classical concerts.
- Wallonie Tourism. Brought to you by the French Speaking Tourist board.
- Ancienne Belgique. For popular concerts, where the stadium bands stop in.
The Bozar Center for Fine Arts
The Paleis voor Schone Kunsten (Dutch) or Palais des Beaux-Arts (French) , Rue Ravensteinstraat 23, tel: +32 2 507-82-0, is often referred to as "Bozar" or "PSK". Construction was completed in 1928 and includes exhibition and conference rooms, movie theater and concert hall which serves as home to the National Orchestra of Belgium. The complex contains a large concert hall, a recital room, a chamber music room, lecture rooms and a vast gallery for temporary exhibitions. Since 2002, the Belgian federal institution has chosen the brand name Bozar. It has seven artistic departments: Bozar Expo, Bozar Music, Bozar Cinema, Bozar Dance, Bozar Theatre, Bozar Literature, Bozar Studios and Bozar Architecture.
- Bozar Architecture. Open to the public with exhibitions and lectures working in close collaboration with the Information Centre for Architecture, Town Planning and Design.
- Bozar Cinema. Has showings of quality films for the general public, a special series for Young Film Fans (in the Henry Le Boeuf Hall), and cross-fertilising events that explore connections between cinema, video, and the other arts (Terarken rooms, Horta Hall).
- Bozar Dance. Hosts international contemporary dance productions.
- Bozar Expo. Has many exhibitions every year, in cooperation with the most prestigious international institutions, alternating the great collections with contemporary art, various national heritages, and support for young artists.
- Bozar Literature. Hosts meetings with Belgian and foreign writers.
- Bozar Music. Concerts in almost a dozen venues, both at the Centre for Fine Arts and elsewhere in Brussels, with Western classical music from the Middle Ages to our times, as well as non-European classical music, traditional music, jazz, blues, rock, etc. in a great variety of line-ups and genres, from chamber ensembles to big bands, from recitals to concert performances of opera.
- Bozar Theatre. Oriented towards avant-garde theatre.
- Bozar Studios. The Centre’s educational service, operating as an artistic department in its own right.
- 10 Bois de la Cambre (Ter Kamerenbos), Floralaan. The largest and best known park of Brussels, on the edge of the Sonian Forest towards the south, with an area of 1.23 square kilometers. The park features an artificial lake with an island, called Robinson's island. The Chalet Robinson, a wooden cottage, was built on the island in 1877 but destroyed by a fire in 1991, then subsequently rebuilt in 2006 to its current glory. The park was laid out in 1861 by German architect Edouard Keilig, together with the Louise Avenue that links it to the Brussels inner city. In its original design it hosted a dairy, a velodrome, theatre, and a race course, and quickly became a popular recreation area for locals. The horsemans' battle bronze group at the entrance of the park is a work of sculptor Jackues de Lalaing. Note that the roads traversing the park are now closed to traffic, and safe for cycling and walking.
- 11 Enygma, Albertinaplein 3 ( or Central Station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Su 10:00-midnight. Escape games in the city center, near the Central Station. Widely considered among the most immersive escape games in the country. Three rooms available. Early booking is recommended. Puzzles of elevated complexity, not recommended for beginners. If you can't get a time slot, try the Escape Rooms down the street at no. 37 (see below) which are usually less crowded. €20-120.
- 12 Escape Prod, Stoofstraat 69 (near Mannenken Pis), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Escape rooms with 2 adventures, lasting up to 60 minutes each: The Dalton's Escape in the Lucky Luke setting, and Blacksad: Private Detective with a traditional detective/mystery theme. 2 - 3 players €90, 4 - 5 players € 100, 6 players € 120.
- 13 Let Me Out, Vrijheidsplaats 3 ( Madou), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 3 room escape games for players to explore:
- Space ship: players find themselves trapped in a space ship with hostile AI, and must work together to gain control of the ship before it self-destructs after 60 minutes.
- Alice in Wonderland: players get trapped into Wonderland and meet mysterious fantasy creatures, but with one catch: the only portal to return to the human world disappears in 60 minutes, and must be opened in a race against time.
- Prison: a scenario similar to The A-Team: players are locked up in prison for a crime they didn't commit, and must work together to bust themselves out. This scenario is the easiest of the 3.
- 14 Escape Room Brussels, Sint-Jansstraat 37 ( or Central Station), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Oldest escape rooms in Brussels, with 2 classic adventures: Mannenken Pis themed arond the city's iconic statue and its folklore, and The Bank Job in a scenario of a bank robbery that players need to plan and execute. Over 17 riddles to solve, games last 60 minutes each. 2 players €60, 3 players €75, 4 players €90, 5-6 players €100.
- 15 Quarantine, Sint-Jansstraat 45 ( or Central Station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Smaller escape games near the Brussels city center, with 2 aventures of 60 minutes each:
- The Maffia Room: players sneak into the office of a mafia gang's boss, and need to find clues to dismantle his network before the time runs out. Suitable for 2-3 players, max. 4.
- Apocalypse: players find themselves in a post apocalyptic scenario after the outbreak of a deadly virus, and must work together to escape. Suitable for larger teams up to 6 players. 2 players €80, 3-6 players €100.
- 16 Escape Hunt, Livornostraat 13 ( Louiza), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Escape games just outside the inner city, with 3 available rooms:
- Robbery of Mannenken Pis: in this scenario, the city's iconic statue has been stolen, and players find themselves in the hideout of the thief, with 60 minutes to restore the statue before he returns.
- Mystery at the Canal Bar: a Sherlock Holmes themed scenario, in which a fellow detective has gone missing in a shady bar near the city's canal after meeting with an informant, and players must unravel the mystery of his disappearance.
- Intrusion at the Japanese Tower: the newest adventure, it is themed in an oriental style according to the Japanese Tower of Brussels. 2 players €66, 3 players €87, 4 players €100, 5 players €110.
- 17 Escape Rush, Herfststraat 30 ( Etterbeek Station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Room escape games close to the university campus, with 2 advenatures available:
- Ravenswood's Story: players follow the adventure of Lord Ravenswod, a genius and philanthropist who dedicated his life to protect the world from trheats, but now needs assistance in his battle to curb the last crisis.
- Mission 1: Submarine Bunker: a story of betrayal set in a secret military facility of Soviet Siberia, where players work together to stop the destruction of the world.
- 18 Chamber Challenge, Kasteleinsstraat 69, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Rome escape games with 2 adventures:
- Hollywood Mystery: players are trapped inside the room of Marilyn Monroe, and need to discover the main culprit in the mysterious end of a beloved cultural icon before the cover-up.
- The Lab: entangled in a race against time, players uncover the structure of DNA to stop the plans of dr. Doom to create a super race that will control the world.
- 19 Escape Room Brussels, Keerkringenlaan 28, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A room escape game in the theme of The Godfather, with mysteries involving organized crime. One of the more difficult games in Brussels, not recommended for beginners. 2 players €60, 3 players €75, 4 players €100, 5 players €110, 6 players €120.
- 20 Red Light District, Aarschotstraat ( or North Station). Just like Antwerp and Amsterdam, Brussels also has its own Red Light District. It is mainly in Rue d'Aerschot/Aarschotstraat, behind the North Train Station. Contrary to the Netherlands, prostitution is not legal in Belgium, they exploit a loophole in the local legislation presenting brothels as "bars". Do not expect to get a drink in there though. Despite heavy police presence, it remains a fairly seedy area, not the kind of place where you'd want to walk alone at night. €60 regardless of the number of players.
- 2 Waterstones, Adolphe Maxlaan 71-75 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-Sa 09:00-19:00, Su 10:30-18:00. The largest English language book store in Belgium, with a wide selection of works on almost every subject. They carry books, DVDs, journals, magazines, and almost any other type of literature. Staff is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, and the opening hours are flexible, but pricing is rather steep. It might be advisable, particularly for hardbacks, to survey here and then buy a used copy of the book on Amazon later.
- 3 Innovation (Galeria Inno), Nieuwstraat 111-123 ( ), ☎ , e-mail: Contact.Inno.Bruxelles.Rue-Neuve@inno.be. M-Th 9:30-19:00, F-Sa 9:30-20:00. Department store, renamed Galeria Inno after the fire that destroyed the original store on 22 May 1967. With 325 people killed, 62 injured and the total destruction of the department store, the fire was considered a national tragedy at the time, and remains the most deadly fire in Belgian history. At the time of its construction in 1901, the store was one of the most innovative in Brussels (hence its name), and a design of art nouveau architect Victor Horta. It had 5 floors around a central atrium open to all floors, topped with a skylight to let in natural daylight. When the blaze started around 13:30, around 1000 shoppers were in the store, along with numerous members of staff. Cries of "fire!" caused widespread panic, but due to the wooden floors and walls and the central atrium acting as a chimney, the fire spread extremely rapidly and engulfed the entire building within 10 minutes. There was no sprinkler system installed, and the building filled with a thick black smoke preventing efficient evacuation. People fled to the roof and escaped to adjacent buildings, but many jumped to their deaths before fire engines with ladders arrived. The cause of the fire has been the subject of much debate, and has never been completely cleared up. In the background of the Cold War, the Innovation (selling many American products) was seen by anti-American and Maoist protestors as a symbol of capitalism, and protests in front of the store had been ongoing for weeks leading up to the fire. Eye witnesses claim the fire started in the kitchen, still others claim it started with exploding cannisters of butane in the camping department. Many Belgians believe Jews were involved, and the government covered up the true cause of the disaster. On 30 May, the king and queen attended a mass funeral in the Sacret Heart Basilica, and what was left of the Innovation was demolished and rebuilt in the years to follow.
- 4 Sunday Market (Zuidmarkt), Europaesplanade ( ). Su 07:00-13:00. The Sunday Market or South Market of Brussels is the largest in Belgium and the 3rd largest in Europe. Ignoring the weather, it gives you the same experience as a market in southern Europe or north Africa. It offers fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, cheese, fish, and many other foods from domestic suppliers but also foreign produce. Other items include plants, household items, textiles, make-up and jewelry, and a variety of other convenience products. Although you'll likely strike the best deals if you buy in large quantities (per kg), most vendors will also be happy to sell you smaller quantities. Prices drop dead cheap towards the end of the market. Note: the area around the South station has a deserved poor reputation. Don't go alone, keep your belongings close, and watch your back!
Very few shops in Brussels open before 10:00, and most open about 10:30-11:00. Many shops are closed on Sunday and Monday.
- Beer Mania, 174-176 Chausse de Wavre-Waversesteenweg, Ixelles/Elsene. Claims to have a stock of over 400 beers, but has been overrun by beer tourists. The stock is extensive, but quite pricey in comparison to GB, Delhaize, or Carrefour. Beer Mania is a great place to find out of the ordinary beers.
- GB/Carrefour. Branches around the city carry a wide variety of beers, including almost all Trappist beer. Selection varies by store. The GB in Grand Place has a large selection and offers prices that are approximately a third of the prices in tourist shops.
- Delhaize. Similar to GB/Carrefour, but a tad more expensive.
- Match. Another store similar to GB/Carrefour, but has more of the unusual Belgian beers including Delirium.
- Cora. Two very large supermarkets on the outer limits of Brussels. They have a much larger choice of beers than Carrefour/ Delhaize/ Match and some very nice gift boxes but still with reasonable supermarket prices.
- Leonidas (branches across the city). very popular with the locals. Inexpensive and good quality, at €6.95 for 250g.
- Neuhaus (branches across the city). A bit more expensive than Leonidas and a bit higher quality. Very popular with the locals as well. It is also possible to get good discounts by buying directly at the shop outlet outside of the factory (Postweg 2, 1602 Vlezenbeek, tel: +32 2 568-23-10) which is just on the outer limits of Brussels, just a short walk away from the Erasme/ Erasmus metro station. Prices can go as low as €10 per kilo, however only the products that are specifically marked as having reduced prices are worth the trip, other products have the exact same price as in local shops.
- Mary (branches across the city). Excellent handmade chocolates, with this store originating from 1919.
- Passion Chocolat, 2/4 Rue Bodenbroek, also 20 Avenue Louis Gribaumont. Delicious chocolates, and they often offer free samples of 1-2 chocolates from their collection.
- Marcolini, 39 Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein. Arguably the best Belgian chocolates and priced accordingly. The country-specific products are difficult to find and quite worth the price.
- Wittamer, 6-12-13 Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein. Another excellent chocolate maker, with also a selection of macarons and cakes. They may however insist on a minimum 100g purchase for the chocolates.
- Chocopolis, 81 Rue du Marché aux Herbes-Grasmarkt (Between Grand Place and Central Station). Pick and choose your favorite type of chocolates, all at reasonable prices.
- Maison Renardy, 17 Rue de Dublinstraat, ☎ . A great boutique shop with delicious chocolate and friendly service. Stop by for a cup of tea or coffee, and get one of their chocolates free with your tea. Still peckish? You're able to bring a whole box home.
- Godiva (branches around the city). Not very popular and quite pricey.
- Chocolate bars. For the frugal, you can buy 100-200 gram gourmet bars of chocolate in grocery stores for about €1 each. Good brands to buy are Côte-d'Or and Jacques, both are Belgian.
- Belgian Lace. Among the best in the world. Several shops are at the Grand' Place-Grote Markt. Beware of some shops that sell Belgian lace even though production was outsourced abroad. Ask for a country of origin if purchasing around Grand Place.
- 5 General shopping (along Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat). with GB supermarket at City 2 accessed from Rue Neuve-Nieuwstraat and Metro Rogier.
- 6 Woluwe Shopping Center, Woluwedal ( ), ☎ . M-Sa 10:00-19:00. A large shopping center in the east of Brussels, on walking distance from Kraainem. It opened in 1968 and was expanded numerous times throughout the years. It houses 136 shops with a total area of 42 650 m², including the famous Belgian chocolate brands Neuhaus, Godiva and Leonidas.
- Marché aux Puces - Vlooienmarkt (Flea Market), Place du Jeu de Balle-Vossenplein. Daily 07:00-14:00. This flea market offers everything from the weird to the wonderful at rock-bottom prices. Features prominently in both the comic and film versions of The Secret of the Unicorn, a Tintin adventure.
- 7 Christmas market, Grand Place, Boulevard Anspachlaan and on Vissenmarkt-Marché aux Poissons. Late Nov-Early Jan. 240 wooden Christmas chalets line the streets looking like gingerbread houses, twinkling with fairy lights and covered with ‘snow-top’ roofs. The chalets sell a variety of Christmas items, decorations, gifts and Christmas season food (including "vin chaud/gluhwein" mulled wine). Activities include a skating rink, a Ferris wheel, and ice dinosaur monster (admission fees). Brass bands, free performances and ice sculptures are also on display.
- 8 Brüsel, 100 Boulevard Anspachlaan. Right in the center and one of the most up to date stores when it comes to contemporary comics.
- 9 Filigranes, 39 Avenue des Arts-Kunstlaan. Daily. the largest bookshop in Brussels, features a small bar/café inside and quite often live music.
- 10 Sterling Books, Wolvengracht 23, ☎ . M-Sa 10:00-18:00. One of the most popular English bookshops in downtown Brussels.
- 11 Pele-Mele, Boulevard Maurice Lemonnierlaan, 55 & 59 (Metro Anneessens). Maze-like, second-hand bookshop with huge selection of used books at bargain prices. A bookworm's haven.
Chocolate until you drop
Brussels is chock full of chocolates, but the ultimate indulgence for the chocoholic is Place du Grand Sablon-Grote Zavel Plein, where you will find three shops selling some of the best chocolate in the world: Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini and Wittamer. Each store has its own specialties: Pierre Marcolini's take-away cakes and ice cream are reasons to be tempted, while Wittamer is the only one with a cafe on premises and also sells the ultimate hot chocolate. Passion Chocolat (20 Rue Vanderlindenstraat) is a bit out of the way but its artisan chocolate is worth a visit, and you can taste lots of it for free at the entrance.
There is plenty of good eating to be had in Brussels. Most people concentrate on the three classics: mussels (moules in French and mosselen in Dutch), fries (frites in French and frieten in Dutch) and chocolate. A few more adventurous Bruxellois/Brusselse dishes include anguilles au vert/paling in 't groen (river eels in green sauce), meat balls in tomato sauce, stoemp (mashed vegetables and potatoes) and turbot waterzooi (turbot fish in cream and egg sauce). For dessert, try a Belgian waffle (wafel in Dutch and gauffre in French), also available in a square Brussels version dusted with powdered sugar, and choices of bananas, whipped cream and many other toppings. Although many prefer the round, caramelized version from Liège.
Check the prices of food items before ordering, as you should when visiting pubs in France and Soho, London. Beware especially when servers make choices for you. It has been reported that tourists have to pay up to €7 for a litre of sparkling water, costing less than €0.70 in local stores.
Also beware of the 'Italian Restaurant Streets' in the tourist and shopping districts. These streets are lined with small Italian restaurants, some offering "3 course meals" for €12 or 13. They are all run by just a few shop owners and serve unappetizing store purchased food. They will not 'include service' as most all restaurants in Brussels do, and many tourists have reported getting scammed here, especially when not paying with exact change. A common practice is to present you a menu where prices aren't anything near the ones advertised in the windows. Be sure you ask why there is such a price difference before ordering and do not hesitate to leave if you do not agree with the price. If you were offered a drink and already sipped from your glass before receiving the menu (as is often the case) then just pay for the drink and leave.
The matter over which establishment serves up the best frites (locally known as fritkots in Dutch and "friterie" in French) remains a matter of heated debate. Some argue that the best frites in Brussels are served at the fritkot near the Barriere de Saint-Gilles, while others defend St-Josse's Martin (Place Saint-Josse/Sint-Joostplein) as the prime purveyor of the authentic Brussels frite just as others claim Antoine (Place Jourdan/Jourdanplein) remains the king of the local french fry. No matter which fritkot you're at, try to be adventurous and have something other than ketchup or mayonnaise on your fries. Of the selection of bizarre sauces you've never seen before, "andalouse" is probably the most popular with the locals.
- 1 Maison Antoine, Place Jourdanplein. Tasty fries with a large collection of sauces situated on a square close to the European Parliament. You can eat your fries (frites) in one of the several bars/cafés that carries the sign frites accepted. Vegetarians be careful. Fries are cooked in Beef fat. Although this place has a very good reputation which can be guessed from the long line of people waiting to be served, purists will tell you that is certainly not the best place in town to get your fries. €3.
- La Friterie de la Place de la Chapelle, Rue Haute-Hoogstraat (near Les Marolles/Marollen). Another personal choice for the best frites in Brussels: the big chunks of potato, fried golden, and served with the usual dazzling array of sauces.
- 2 La Friterie de la Barrière, Rue du Parc-Parkstraat (just off the Barrière de St-Gilles/Bareel van Sint-Gillis). Golden and crispy frites just the way they should be. This exterior of this fritkot also serves as mini-museum with several tracts, articles and other literature on the fronts and sides of the shack on the good ol' Belgian frite.
- 3 Friterie Tabora, Rue Taborastraat 2 (near the Bourse). All natural frites with the widest selection of sauces available. It's open almost 24/7 and is a favourite among locals.
- 4 Arcadi, Rue d'Arenberg-Arenberglaan 1B (just at the exit of "Galleries de la Reine", in the direction opposite to the Grand-Place). A quirky combination of old and new, the menu ranges all over the place but the reason people flock here is the selection of over 30 sweet and savoury pies (tartes). A slice big enough for a meal, served with salad, costs €7-7.50. Also special of cafe & slice of pie for €5.
- Mamma Roma. 3 shops: Flagey (Chaussee de Vleurgat-Vleurgatsesteenweg 5), Chatelain/Kastelein (Rue du Page-Edelknaapstraat 5) and Place Jourdan/Jourdanplein. Small pizzeria for eat-in (bar-style seating) or takeaway, sold by weight. Delicious crunchy base and some unusual toppings (one was spicy with walnuts, very tasty). Long queues but speedy service, deals available for pizza + drinks.
- 5 Sel et Sucre Creperie - Glacier, Avenue des Celtes-Keltenlaan, 4 (near Merode subway station, Parc du Cinquantenaire-Jubelpark and the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfboog). 12:00-22:00. The fantastic crepes and friendly service makes up for the ordinary decor and just around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe-Triomfboog.
- Snack Pizzeria Porte de Halle, Avenue Henri Jaspar-Henri Jasparlaan, 134 (directly across the city ring from Porte de Halle-Halsepoort), ☎ . 11:00-23:00. The gentlemen running the place speak a little bit of English and serve the best donar kebap and pizza in the neighborhood. The #39-Pizza Porte De Halle is probably their best pizza. Free delivery on orders over €10.
- 6 Tapas Locas, Rue Marche au Charbons-Kolenmarktstraat 74. Crazy tapas, sensible prices. Some tapas include miniaturised Belgian favourites as well as the usual Spanish suspects.
Brussels' tourist restaurant gauntlet can be found in Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat, just to the north of Grand Place. The place has a bad reputation for waiters imposing themselves on passers-by, trying to lure customers into their restaurant. The authorities are aware of this, and are trying to take measures. Some restaurants may also tempt you with cheap prices for the menus, but when seated, the item on the menu happens to be unavailable, and you're forced to accept another, noticeably more expensive dish. Often, the exaggerated price of the wines will also compensate for the attractive menu. Knowing this however, you may be able to negotiate a better deal before entering.
A few restaurants stand out from the crowd though:
- 7 Aux Armes de Bruxelles, Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat 13, ☎ . Tu-Su. Basic honest food, including some very decent moules. Crowded, although worth the wait.
- 8 Chez Léon, ☎ . Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat 18. Now franchised into France as well, this is the original and while it's huge and looks like a tourist trap, the moules are excellent and it's packed every day. Moules, beer and a starter will set you back €25, and kids eat for free.
- 9 Scheltema, Rue des Dominicains-Predikherenstraat 7, ☎ . Specializes in fresh and tasty seafood.
- 10 Le Pré Salé, 20, Rue de Flandre-Vlaamsesteenweg (near St Catherine square), ☎ . A former butcher shop, locals flock here for some of the best moules in town, sold by the kilo (figure on €24) and served up in half a dozen ways. Also serves the full range of other Brussels favorites.
- Le Beau Soleil, Rue Joseph Lebeaustraat 7 (Sablon area). M Tu Th F 09:00-17:00; Sa Su 09:00-18:00. This tiny restaurant (approx. 14 seats) looks like a violin workshop, so you sit next to all the tools and half finished violins. Unlike other Belgian restaurants. The menu is small but really delicious. The atmosphere is informal and friendly.
- 11 Les Brassins, Rue Keyenveld-Keienveldstraat 36, Ixelles-Elsene, ☎ . Its crowd is mostly made out of young couples or students. Rich choice of beer, with more than 50 varieties on the menu, and good quality of food. In summer they have a few tables outside on a beautiful pedestrianized street.
- 12 'T Kelderke, Grand Place, 15 Grote Markt, ☎ . Well-made typical Belgian fare. Try the carbonnades à la flamande (Flemish beef stew) & mussels. Note that this place can feel cramped when full of diners. €9-19 main courses, €8.50 Plat du jour.
- 13 Les Chapeliers, Rue des Chapeliers 1-3 Hoedenmakersstraat, ☎ . Just off the Grote Markt with reasonable prices and excellent food. Seems to be popular among the locals without full of tourists.
Close to the Bourse Jules Van Praetstraat (rue Jules Van Praet) is another rapidly developing street of restaurants and bars. Those of note include:
- 14 Lune de Miel, ☎ . Some very tasty Thai and Vietnamese dishes served in a fine decor.
- 15 Thanh-Binh, ☎ . The restaurant is very popular among the Euroworkers and business types common in Brussels and serves good Thai food. It can get crowded and is often noisy but is well worth a try.
Place Saint Catherine-Catherinplaats is also a popular area, and once the fishmongering centre of Brussels. While many of the fish shops have moved elsewhere, it is still home to many good seafood restaurants featuring lobster as a specialty.
- 16 Restaurant Vismet, Place Sainte-Catherinplaats 23, ☎ . A small bistro that really gets busy after 19:00. Very good seafood. The handwritten menu can throw foreigners off, but everything on the menus is top notch. Appetizers: around €15; Main dishes: €18-30.
- Jacques, Quai aux Briques-Baksteenkaai 44, ☎ . An authentic old bistro, with a charming kitsch decor. Very good fish.
- 17 Viva M'Boma, Vlaanderenstraat-Rue de Flandre 17, ☎ . For real Belgian home cooking. Terrace in the summer.
- Brussels Resto, Place Sainte Catherine-Catherinplaats 3, ☎ . Offers quality food, especially its steak at acceptable prices. The menu is in Dutch and French which can cause difficulty in deciphering the specialties.
It is outside the touristic centre that the best deals can be found. Here are a few addresses in the Upper Town and Louise Area:
- 18 Madou's Provence, Rue de la Presse-Drukpersstraat 23, ☎ . Closed Saturday noon and Sundays. Innovative southern French cuisine at affordable prices.
- 19 Chez Oki. Rue Lesbroussart-Lesbroussartstraat 62, Ixelles-Elsene. French-Japanese fusion cuisine in a modern decor. The chef has worked for prestigious restaurants in Paris. Reasonable prices.
- L'Ultime Atome: Increasingly chic, but still just about affordable brasserie, serving tasty food and drink from breakfast till late. Place St Boniface-Bonifatiusplaats (off the Chausée d'Ixelles-Elsensesteenweg).
- Mano a Mano: Italian restaurant on Place St. Boniface-Bonifatiusplaats; Good food, not too expensive.
- L'Amour Fou: Similar to above located on Place Fernand Coqplaats.
- 20 Belga Queen, Rue du Fossé aux Loups-Wolvengracht 32. Rue du Fossé aux Loups-Wolvengracht 32. A restaurant within an old, restored bank building. Has an oyster bar, gorgeous bathrooms (with strange stall doors), and a cigar bar housed in the old bank vaults. A good looking younger crowd seem to enjoy this place, and don't miss the offbeat restrooms.
- 21 La Belle Maraîchère, Place Sainte-Catherineplaats 11, ☎ . F-Tu. A classic fish restaurant. Very fresh fish and good old traditional cooking.
- 22 Comme Chez Soi, Place Rouppe/Rouppeplaats 23, ☎ . Classic Michelin-starred restaurant.
- 23 Les Larmes du Tigre (Tears of the Tiger), Rue de Wynantsstraat 21 (On the backside of the Palais du Justice / Justitiepaleis), ☎ . W-M. Upmarket and stylish Thai restaurant found just behind the Palais de Justice and better than most food found in Thailand.
- De Gulden Boot (la Chaloupe d'Or), 24 Grote Markt (Grand Place). One of the most famous restaurants in Brussels, situated on Grand Place. Beautiful old building, but too much of a tourist trap. And even after a €200 dinner, you will get charged €0.50 to visit the toilet.
- 24 Amadeo (Amadeus), Sint-Katelijnestraat / Rue Sainte-Catherine 26, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 18:00-23:00. The best place to eat spare ribs in Brussels, themed after a local library. Amadeo tends to be very crowded, and making a reservation well in advance is absolutely necessary. Not suitable for families with kids. All-you-can-eat spare ribs for € 17.95.
Vegetarians can find at least one menu item at many, though not all, regular restaurants. Vegans will have a harder time, while the Veganizer BXL initiative is looking to widen their options, it’s best to head for the vegetarian-vegan restaurants:
- 25 Dolma, Chaussée d'Ixelles-Elsenesteenweg 329, ☎ . A very nice vegetarian buffet, at lunch and dinner time, Monday through Saturday. The day’s menu is on the website, with vegan options (“végétalien”) indicated. Around €30 for buffet with dessert and drinks.
- 26 La Tsampa, Rue de Livourne/Livornostraat 109, ☎ . An organic/vegetarian shop annex restaurant, closed on Saturday and Sunday.
- 27 Moonfood, 58 Rue des Colonies, Koloniënstraat, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 12:00-20:09. 100% vegan, organic, and gluten-free restaurant in central Brussels
Some non-vegetarian restaurants that are particularly vegetarian-friendly:
- Exki, Place de la Bourse-Beursplein 2. Chain of self-service “bio” restaurants with vegetarian and vegan items labeled. About 20 locations within Brussels. Fairly overpriced.
- 28 El Turco, Place de Londres-Londenplein 6, ☎ . M-F 11:30-15:00 and Tu-F 19:00-22:30. Turkish-inspired buffet restaurant. Offers meats and fish, but the cold buffet is entirely vegetarian. €25 for all, excluding drinks.
- 29 Café De Markten, Oude Graanmarkt - Vieux Marché aux Grains 5, ☎ . Tu-Sa 8:00-00:00, Su 10:00-19:00, Mo 15:00-00:00. Reopened in 2018, café De Markten is a popular hangout cafe and restaurant with a large selection of local specialties, in particular vegetarian and/or organic food. Reservation is not usually necessary, but recommended for large groups. Try their home made lemonades: the apple-cinnamon (appel-kaneel) and rhubarb-cranberry (rabarber-cranberry) are particularly tasty! €14-20.
Belgium is to beer what France is to wine, it is home to one of the greatest beer traditions in the world, and Brussels is a great place to sample some of the vast variety on offer. Typical beers of Brussels are gueuze (rather sour) and kriek (rather sweet, cherry based).
Smoking is prohibited in all bars. It is allowed to smoke on the outdoor parts that many bars install on the street during the warmer months.
A special drink only found in Brussels is the "half-en-half" ("half and half"). It's a mixture of white wine and champagne.
- 2 Brasserie De l'Union, 55 Parvis De Saint-Gilles - Sint-Gillisvoorplein. This is a place with a true "atmosphere", wooden chairs and tables, big old wooden bar, a crowd that reflects the diversity of Saint-Gilles. Everybody is welcome and come as you are. This is a bar that just oozes human warmth and a comfortable ambiance. When the sunny days are coming, the terrace is one of the best in Saint-Gilles.
- 3 À La Bécasse, Rue de Taborastraat 11, ☎ . Serves a typical Brussels product this slightly sweetened Lambic beer, white beer based on Lambic, Kriek Lambic and so on. The entrance is not that easy to find.
- 4 À La Mort Subite, Rue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagères-Bergstraat 7. This is the Brussels cafe par excellence. Since its opening in 1927, the decor remains unchanged but retains its charm. A warm welcome greets the eclectic clientele of which La Mort remains a firm favorite.
- 5 Bier Circus, 57, Rue de l'Enseignement-Onderrichtsstraat, ☎ . Tu-F 12:00-14:30 & 18:00-23:00; Sa 18:00-23:00. Has an impressive selection of beers, including some extremely hard to find beers. Examples of rare beers they have in stock, are Lam Gods (a delicious beer brewed from figs) and the rarest of the Trappist beers, winner of the Beer of the Year 2005, Westvleteren. Also offers meals with beer as an ingredient.
- BXL Cafe/Bar, Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blés-Oud Korenhuis 46, ☎ . Su-Th 12:00-00:00; F Sa 22:00-01:00. A stylish, friendly internet cafe in the center of Brussels. Offering high speed internet access, occasional live music/DJ, latest movies shown on video screens around the bar, regular art exhibitions. Gay friendly space with women's night every Wednesday from 20:00.
- 7 Bizon Cafe, Rue Pont de la Carpe-Karperbrugstraat 7. A relaxed blues/rock bar in St Gery area. Excellent place for a beer or five.
- 8 Monk, St Katelijnestraat-Rue St. Catherine 42. A large proper brown bar with walls covered in dark wood and mirrors. Lots of young people from the neighborhood, cool music and a decent Malt whiskey selection.
- 9 Delirium Cafe, Impasse de la Fidelité-Getrouwheidsgang 4A (on a pedestrian only sidestreet), ☎ . Right in the centre of Brussels within a five-minute walk of the Grand Place. This bar is all about the beer, even holding the 2004 Guinness world record for most beers available with 2,004 beers in 2004 (now 3,162 beers, according to their website)! Popular among foreigners. There are some smoke-free areas. Also next door are three different bars specialising in rum, tequila, and absinthe.
- 10 Chez Moeder Lambic, Rue Savoiestraat 68 (behind Saint Gilles-Sint-Gillis city hall), ☎ . M-F 11:00-01:00; Sa Su 11:00-02:00. Has a huge list of different beers, with several hundred obscure beers not likely found anywhere else. This cafe is one of the last remaining old-fashioned brown cafes in Brussels. Beer: 25cl: €4.
- 11 Le Greenwich, Rue des Chartreux-Kartuizerstraat 7, ☎ . Another wood-panelled brown cafe where the only sound is the sound of the chess pieces on the chess board. Shh!
- 12 Brasserie Le Verschueren, Parvis de St-Gilles-Sint-Gillisvoorplein 11-13, ☎ . Something of an institution in hip Saint-Gilles. Under the watchful eye of the portly, bearded deep-voiced owner, hipsters, starving artists and local poodle-brandishing ladies mingle and drink endless beers and coffees. A beautiful woodwork football tableau shows the scores of some long lost second and third division teams from yesteryear.
- 13 Le Cirio, Rue de la Bourse-Beursstraat 18 (near the Bourse). A traditional café where time has come to a stop. Also offers some simple meals. Don't forget to visit the bathroom, with the original tiles and porcelain.
- 14 Le Corbeau, Sint-Michielsstraat 18 (North of Debrouckere, near City2 and Inno), ☎ . A bar with a strong selection of beer, Edgar Allen Poe themed, hence the name (The Raven). Known for the clientele who dance on the tables all around the bar. Reasonably priced, well trafficked.
- 15 The Sister, Vlees-en-Broodstraat 3 (near the Grand Place), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Th 12:00-22:00; F-Sa 12:00-02:00. A small café specialized in beer tasting and organic foods. Fairly pricey, but usually quiet unless there are meetings of the local OpenStreetMap team going on.
Bars and clubs
- 16 De Walvis, Rue Dansaert 209. One of the very few hip and non-smoking bars in Brussels.
- 17 Crystal Lounge, Avenue de la Toison d'Or - Gulden-Vlieslaan 40. This prestige location, nestling in the heart of the Louise district in Brussels, offers a new style of Lounge Bar – Restaurant entirely dedicated to the well-being of its guests. The service, the musical atmosphere and the lighting... everything has been carefully thought out to offer a unique experience depending on the time of day: if the client chooses a table at midday, he will discover a totally different Crystal Lounge from the one he would find sitting at the bar in the evening, or in a salon in the middle of the afternoon.
- 18 Mappa Mundo, Place Saint Géry - Sint Goriksplein 2, ☎ . One of the many trendy bar/cafés on the popular Place Saint Géry-Sint Goriksplein. You are assured good drinking in at least one of these establishments, which are very popular with younger Eurocrats, foreigners and interns, giving them a rather friendly cosmopolitan character.
- 19 Le Tavernier, 445 Chaussée de Boondael-Boondaalsesteenweg. While all the above locations are situated downtown in central Brussels, this location is the most popular bar on a strip of bars right by the Cimétière d'Ixelles-Begraafplaats van Elsene. It's location right off the student campus make it extremely popular with students who just want to kick back and have a few relaxed drinks. Note on certain nights there is also live music (making the establishment a lot more hectic). Worth a look especially towards the beginning and end of the academic year and in the summer (especially for their Jazzbreaks nights).
- Hydra-breaks. Organises "Hydra Sessions" and also "Next Level" and "Caliente" drum and bass parties at various locations. Hydra Sessions are major D&B nights with international headliners such as Pendulum, Spor, or Raiden, along national djs.
- Bulex nights. A monthly night out for many locals since more than 10 years, blending all kinds of music in unexpected venues. Come as you are.
- 20 The Fuse, Rue Blaesstraat 208. A nightclub where it all started and is a Brussels institution. Be sure to check it out. Popular among the young people for its Electronic scene, often having Dubstep and Drum & Bass nights, such as Rockme On Electro, Cartel, F*ckin Beat or other parties. (Watch out for these other parties in nights spread out in other smaller clubs in Brussels).
- Botanique. The place for rock and pop. They do, on occasion, bring more experimental acts.
- The Botanique's Flemish counterpart, the Ancienne Belgique features the same mix of rock and pop with the occasional excursion into more unchartered, experimental territory.
- Recyclart. For electronica, noise-rock, electroclash, minimal techno as well as art exhibitions, social projects and installations.
- 21 Le You, Rue Duquesnoy, Duquesnoystraat 18. For young clubbers who just want to party, 2 minutes walking southeast from the Grand Place.
- Gays and Lesbians. The two biggest monthly gay clubs remain at La Demence at the Fuse. 100% House & Trance. Don't miss the crowded (but super small) Le Belgica bar, which plays house music. There are quite a lot of gay bars easily recognisable by their flag around the Grand Place area, especially on the street Marché Au Charbon/ Kolenmarkt.
Hotel rates in Brussels can vary widely (especially at the upper end) depending on how many EU bigwigs happen to be in town. Good deals are often available on weekends and during the summer when the bureaucrats flee on vacation.
- 1 2Go4 Hostel, Rue Emilie Jacquinstraat 99 (Metro De Brouckere), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Very clean and very modern and chic. Free wi-fi (ask at reception for a code). €20+.
- 2 Hostel Jacques Brel, Rue de la Sablonnière-Zavelputstraat 30 (Metro Botanique), ☎ , fax: . Has a reputation for being unclean and chaotic which may not be deserved. Reception closes early and there's a curfew between 01:00 and 06:00.
- 3 Génération Europe Youth Hostel, Rue de l'Eléphant-Olifantstraat 4 (Molenbeek-Saint-Jean), ☎ , fax: . Offers beds for budget traveling. A bit farther from city centre, not as safe area. €22.50+.
- 4 Youth Hostel Van Gogh (CHAB), Rue Traversière-Dwarsstraat 8 (Saint-Josse-ten-Noode), ☎ , fax: . Good location, near Brussels North Station, quick access to all train stations via metro and airport. Very clean reception, friendly staff, and lively bar with good ambience which stays open late. Rather basic double rooms (toilets in rooms with no doors). €19.00+.