Brussels – the city of officials, chocolate and the peeing trio

The capital of Belgium is also known as the Capital of Europe because it is the home of many European institutions, with the European Parliament and the Council of Europe at the forefront. 40,000 European officials live and work here – including one with a truly bizarre job! There are three official languages, and it is estimated that visitors make up around 60% of Brussels residents. Despite this, the city has retained its unique character and cultural identity and boasts several world-famous monuments.

Every tourist visiting Brussels should see the city’s main square – the Grand Placethe residence of the Belgian royal family – the Palais Royal and the famous Atomium, a futuristic building built for the World Exhibition in the 50s on the model of the atom magnified billions of times.

The city of course has other interesting places off the beaten track that we would like to show you. What is there to see in Brussels?

The capital of comics

We can’t explain it, but Brussels could easily be considered the capital of comics. In the heads of the local artists came up with ideas for, among others Smurfs, Lucky Lukeor Tintin. You might be able to solve this mystery if you follow our comic book recommendations.

The first is a themed walk through the downtown area called by locals Pentagon. Impressive, multi-meter murals inspired by the adventures of comic book characters have been created on the walls of tenement buildings since the early 1990s. There are more than 50 works of street art to discover and you can get a map with their location at the tourist information center.

It’s an interesting way for the whole family to take their first steps in the city. Especially since the paintings depicting the journalist-detective Tintin and his inseparable canine companion Milus will greet you at the train station Bruxelles-Midi.

If you had trouble recognizing all the cartoon characters, this might be a good reason to visit Belgian Comics Centrewhere you will learn all about the history and present of this art. The Center houses a permanent exhibition, temporary exhibitions, as well as a comic book library and reading room with 3000 cartoon books in 36 languages.

Another attraction is the building itself, once the warehouse of a textile company, which houses the institution. It is an excellent example of Art Nouveauarchitecture, here as imagined by architect Victor Hortafor which Brussels. The style flourished during the long reign of King Leopold II in the second half of the 19th century.

What to eat in Brussels?

Hungry? You won’t complain about a lack of options in Brussels. There are more than 50 restaurants per square kilometer in the city, and many of them are world-class. We, however, only take a short break from sightseeing to enjoy a favorite local street snack. Short, but only if you don’t ask the locals for a recommendation.

Apparently, if you want to wrangle Belgians for the day, just ask them where the best fries are served. Belgian frieswhich are 1 cm thick slices of potatoes (as opposed to thinner French ones) deep-fried in oil and served in characteristic paper cones.

It seems to be nothing special, but Belgians have made the preparation of fries art. They produce them from a special variety of potatoes. They fry twice in a unique blend of oil containing horse and beef fat and serve it with homemade sauces, the recipes of which they often guard closely as if they were the biggest secret. In 2014, after a successful social campaign Belgian Fries were even added to the UNESCO World Heritage List!

The peeing trio

We have one more themed walk for you. When you visit Brussels, you’re sure to also visit the famous peeing boy fountain Manneken Pis. The 61 cm tall bronze sculpture has been a symbol of the city since 1619. The figure has lived to see an impressive collection of costumes for all occasions.

Belgians dress her up nearly 130 times a year, and the expected styles can be read in a regularly published schedule. Since 1756, the city authorities have employed a special official responsible for dressing up Brussels’ favorite.

Not everyone knows that Manneken Pis has a nostril sculpture. At a seldom-visited backstreet Impasse de la Fidéliténear Rue des Bouchers and the famous Délirium Café, stands a modest fountain Jeanneke Pis depicting a girl peeing. It is contemporary art created for a good cause. Every coin thrown into the fountain contributes to a charitable fund supporting cancer research.

The siblings also have a mascot. Zinneke Pis is an adorable bronze dog who, as if nothing ever happened, takes care of his need at the corner of Rue des Chartreux and Rue du Vieux Marché. The dog stood here in 1998, and its author Tom Frantzen thus commemorated his own four-legged friend with whom he used to stroll through the neighborhood. The mutt – The mongrel is meant to symbolize the city’s multiculturalism in a surrealistic way and with a characteristic Belgian wink.

Belgian chocolate

Besides French fries Belgium is also famous for chocolate. Stores with chocolates tempting with their creativity, smell and variety of flavors can be found on every corner. We recommend a visit to the City of Belgian Chocolate located in the old factory of Victoria brand sweets.

During a visit with a guide you will learn everything about the art of making chocolates, starting from growing cocoa beans to aromatic pralines. In the courtyard of this unusual museum there is even a greenhouse, where tropical conditions are recreated and seedlings of plants giving valuable fruits are grown.

It is worth registering in advance for chocolate-making courseDuring the course you can prepare your own sweet treat that will soon melt in your mouth.

Museums in Brussels

Our traditional museum recommendation is another Brussels Art Nouveau gem. In the building on Rue Montagne de la Cour 2 formerly housed, among others, a luxury hotel and department store Old England. Today, in addition to sophisticated architecture, sound reigns supreme.

W Museum of Musical Instruments you will see over 1500 instruments from all over the world. Among the most valuable specimens are the only existing copy of Ravale’s Luthéal, and large Chinese stone bells. A highlight for visitors is the sound laboratory, where they can try out different instruments for themselves.

Attractions outside of Brussels

From the Brussels bus and train stations you can go on a lot of interesting excursions. We can visit for example the city of beer, canals and medieval architecture – Bruges Bruges or the world capital of diamonds and the second largest port in Europe Antwerp. We recommend a completely unobvious direction, where you will learn about dying out profession in Europe.

Although the national delicacy of the Belgians is muleswe have found for you another attraction connected with seafood. Not far from the French border, in the coastal town of Oostduinkerke the original tradition of fishing for shrimp with the help of horses. This disappearing art, whose traditions date back to the 16th century, is still practiced by several families here. Fishing is very impressive.

On the local beach powerful horses with a fisherman on their backs pull the nets in the cool waters of the North Sea often submerged up to the breast. The caught shrimp are then thrown into large wicker baskets, rinsed of sand and delivered straight to local restaurants where they are served in simple ways.

The fishery is held regularly throughout the year, depending on the tides, and you can check the schedule on the local tourist information pages. The town also hosts a special parade and shrimp festival every year. There is also a museum dedicated to fishing in the area NAVIGO.

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