Brussels city guide in 5 steps
Date Created: 09 July 2015
- must see museums
- unusual museums
- local foods and where to taste them
- summer festivals
- walking and discovering the city
The Museum of Musical Instruments
The inventor of the saxophone was indeed a Belgian, in 1846 this fine instrument was first patented by Adolphe Sax, a French Belgian musician. The city of Brussels hosts the impressive Museum of Musical instruments in a magnificent Art Nouveau building erected in 1899 and designed by architect Paul Saintenoy – a must see for adults and children alike, with its interactive extended collection of more than 1200 instruments.
Unmistakable symbol of Brussels and Belgium and unique feat in the history of architecture: the Atomium is today the most popular attraction in the Capital of Europe. Built for the 1958 World Exhibition, the Atomium is shaped on the model of an elementary iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times. (source: http://visitbrussels.be/bitc/BE_en/monument/708/atomium.do)
Located in the heart of Brussels, the Magritte Museum presents an outstanding collection of works by the Belgian Surrealist artist René Magritte. This rich collection of over 200 works is the largest in the world. Multidisciplinary, the museum consists of paintings, gouaches, drawings, sculptures and painted objects, but also billboards, music scores, old photographs and films directed by Magritte himself.
Comic strip museum
The visit to this museum is a must for two reasons. First of all, the museum is situated in the beautiful Art Nouveau setting of the Waucquez Warehouses. Secondly, one can see here the history of a very typical art form in Belgium: the comic strip. Its most representative character being the young reporter Tintin, who made his first appearance in 1929.
The wardrobe of the Manneken Pis at the Museum of the City of Brussels
The famous Manneken-Pis remains the emblem of the rebellious spirit of the City of Brussels. His wardrobe counts more than 900 suits. The Museum of the City of Brussels presents one hundred of these suits. A multimedia database allows the visitors to consult the whole wardrobe of the famous 'ketje'. (source: http://www.brussels.be/artdet.cfm/4328)
Éditions Jacques Brel
A small but inventive museum celebrating the life and times of the Belgian singer Jacques Brel (1933–78). A legend in his own musical lifetime, Brel became famous in the 1960s as a gravelly voiced singer of mournful chansons about death, loss, desire and love. Inside the museum, a sequence of life-size tableaux give the impression that you have just missed Brel – a cigarette still burns in the replica bar – and you can watch films of the man in concert in the small and cosy theatre-cum-cinema.
Oysters and sea food at “Mer du Nord” on St. Catherine square
Unconventional to say the least, “La Mer du Nord” is not exactly a café or restaurant. It is actually a fishmonger’s, but over the last few years it has set up a pavement bar which serves shucked oysters and a tapas-like selection of scallops, tuna, swordfish and plump prawns cooked fresh à la plancha right in front of you. A stop-off here should be obligatory for everyone visiting Brussels.
“Frites” on the go
Frites in Belgium aren’t just a side dish or an appetiser. They are a meal in themselves, the ultimate street food with a great variety of sauces, traditionally made with a specific type of potato and fried twice in animal fat to give them a wonderfully crispy exterior and fluffy centre. Many “friteries” aspire for the title of “best frites” in town – here are a few of the 5 most popular competitors: Frit Flagey (on Place Flagey), Maison Antoine (on Place Jourdan), Friterie Barriere (by the Barriere roundabout), Fritland, (in the centre, just by the Bourse) and finally Fritkot (by the church of La Chapelle).
Waffles in Brussels
As you stroll down the little streets around the Grand Place in the centre of Brussels, the vanilla aroma of the waffles will take you by surprise. You can enjoy a waffle whilst walking, buying it from one of the many street stalls, or more comfortably sitting down at a table: you generously sprinkle icing sugar all over it and, if you prefer it rich, you can top it with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Head to the Dandoy tearoom (on Rue Charles Buls 14) for Brussels best waffle! (http://www.maisondandoy.com/en/stores/our-shops/)
Brussels Beach – Bruxelles les Bains
Every year, the banks of the Brussels channel, at the level of the Place Sainctelette, are transformed into a real urban beach for Bruxelles les Bains. The beach is provided with huts, deckchairs and fountains. 3.000 tons of sand from the North Sea is poured on the site (length of 1km). The site this year will be open from the 3rd of July until the 9th of August.
For more info and weekly programme: http://www.bruxelleslesbains.be/
A pageant of colour and grandness, which dates back to 1549, when first held for Emperor Charles V and his honoured guests. Tiered stands are set up in and around the Grand Place to witness a historic festival that includes horses, jousting and flag processions. In 2015 the event will run from the 30th of June until the 2nd of July.
For more info and programme: http://www.ommegang.be/index2.php?idx=2&lg=en
14 - 23 August – Brussels Summer Festival
First held in 2002, the Brussels Summer Festival is a music festival held in the city during August. Over 250 concerts are held with music covering an array of sectors. Theatre performances and street entertainers provide more attractions during the festival.
For more info and programme: http://www.bsf.be/en/
Sunday markets walk – From Sablon to the Marolles
So close and yet so different, the Sablon and the Marolles districts are a real gold mine for art lovers, collectors or bargain hunters. The antique and modern art galleries of the Sablon constitute a chic itinerary museum in themselves, while the popular Rue Haute and Rue Blaes are thronged with the most unexpected bric-a-brac and decoration shops, carefully interspersed with typical and welcoming cafés and restaurants. Final stop of the tour should be the fantastic flea market on Place du Jeu de Balle, a must see in Brussels, it’s occupied the square every morning for more than a century!
Art Nouveau Walk
This is a guided tour about “Art Nouveau architecture and Victor Horta”. Walk and learn everything about the origins and the development of this architectural style by visiting Art Nouveau houses still preserved today. Discover the most beautiful and impressive Art Nouveau projects by architects who mastered the art of combining iron, glass, wood and stone into an infinite variety of different forms and curves.
For more info: http://www.bravodiscovery.com/#!free-tour-art-nouveau-and-victor-horta/c1lse
Brussels comic strip wall tour
If you are a comic strip enthusiast and after visiting the comic strip museum you’re still up for a chase after Tintin the young reporter, this is the walk for you. The City of Brussels started producing its own comic strip murals in 1993. They have been included in a tour that stretches across the city; very popular with tourists, it includes 31 walls in the central Pentagon area and four walls in the district of Laeken.
For more info: http://talesandtours.com/guide/492/brussels-comic-strip-wall-tour.html
Written by Vittoria Soddu.