Brussels Travel Guide – Deals

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Brussels is an exciting, modern city, yet it is rich in strikingly beautiful medieval and art nouveau buildings. It has outstanding museums and galleries and a vibrant cultural life. The heart of the capital city of Belgium lies inside a circle of main roads. The inner city can easily be explored within this circle on foot, by bus, or by tram. For areas outside it, there is an excellent subway system.

brussels overview

Over the centuries, Brussels (Bruxelles in French; Brussel in Flemish) has been ruled by every major power at or near its boundaries from the Romans to the Spanish to the Germans. Its colonial history provided a fitting prelude to its current status. Brussels has become an international business community composed of diplomats, lobbyists, and euro-politicians connected with NATO and the European Union. International business arrived in the past three decades, resulting in blocks lined with steel-and-glass office buildings. However, these modern edifices are only a few steps from the cobbled streets, splendid cafés, and graceful art nouveau architecture that speak to the city’s eventful past.

Belgium’s unique languages date back to the time when the Franks were forcing Celts and Gauls into the land’s southern regions, making an early form of the Dutch language the norm in the north. French (with Dutch influence), is the accepted language in the south. Brussels, located in the middle, is one of the world’s few officially bilingual capitals. Residents of Brussels tend to be politically and religiously conservative and to cling to family and national traditions. The vast majority of Belgians are Roman Catholics, and despite a decline in church attendance, religious customs still flavor much of Belgium’s daily life.

Until the late 19th century, Brussels was a riverside city, built along the banks of the River Senne. At that time, a decision was made to brick over the river and thus eliminate it as a source of flooding and any other annoyance it might cause. The river still flows under the bricked boulevard that covers it. In order to photograph the Senne,however, one must travel outside the city.

Early Belgian artists are credited with inventing oil painting, and the country has produced many masterpieces. The Flemish primitive Jan Van Eyck started the tradition in the 15th century. Pieter Brueghel followed with his portrayals of peasant life in the 16th century, and Pieter Paul Rubens dominated early 17th century art as the leading artist of the Baroque period. For most of the 18th century, while Brussels was under Austrian rule, buildings were designed in a modest rational, neoclassical style. After the war of independence ended in 1831 Brussels built with a new exuberance in an effort to catch up with and surpass the extravagant structures of London and Paris. The first covered shopping gallery was a product of this period. The glass covered Galeries Saint Hubert is still open today, and is as astounding as when it was built!

The most dramatic post World War II structure is the Atomium, which is modeled on a molecule of iron. It was built for the Belgian metal industry as the showpiece for the 1958 World’s Fair. The 300 foot tall steel structure consists of nine separate spheres linked by cylindrical columns.

Throughout the years Brussels has been a world leader not only in architecture but also in literature, music, dance, painting, sculpture, and of course textiles. The city contains a wealth of examples showing excellence in each of these areas.

“One of the most beautiful town squares in Europe, if not in the world”, is a phrase often heard when visitors in Brussels try to describe the beauty of this central market square. French speakers refer to it as the ‘Grand-Place’, and in Dutch it is called ‘de Grote Markt’. Writers over the years, including Victor Hugo and Baudelaire were struck by the charm of the market square with its rows of guild houses set against the backdrop of the Town Hall and the king’s house.

The origins of the Grand-Place were humble. The site began as a sand bank between two brooks that ran downhill to the river Senne. The “niedermerckt”, or ‘lower market’ was built along it first. By the 12th century, Brussels had become a commercial crossroads between Bruges (in Flanders) , Cologne , and France. English wool, French wines and German beer were sold in the harbour and at the market.

During the early Middle Ages small wooden houses were scattered around the market. Beginning in the 14th century, wealthy families constructed stone mansions. Gradually the market turned into the main commercial and administrative center of the city. Between 1402 and 1455 the Town Hall was built. The square had by then become the political center where meetings were held, where executions took place and where dukes, kings and emperors where officially received. In the centuries that followed most wooden houses where replaced with beautifully decorated stone ones, owned by the powerful Brussels trade guilds.

The Grand Sablon is an elegant square surrounded by restaurants, cafés, and exclusive antique shops. Every Saturday and Sunday morning a lively antiques market takes over the upper part of the square. The petit Sablon, the other half of the square, is surrounded by a magnificent wrought-iron fence topped by 48 small bronze statues representing the city’s guilds.

Belgian food is highly regarded throughout Europe. Some say it’s second only to French cuisine. Combining French and German styles, meat and seafood are the main raw ingredients. The Belgians claim to be the inventors of frites (potato chips, or fries), and judging by availability, it’s a claim few would contest. These crisp delights rank in popularity with Belgian chocolate and Belgian beer. Mussels are another favorite.

There are many attractions the whole family will enjoy. One that is sure to please is Brupark, an outstanding theme park in the city’s northern suburbs. There the Atomium can be viewed from the ground by going inside the structure. There is a 24 theater complex, a planetarium, a water park, and a miniature re-creation of Europe that has several hands – on components.

Shopping in Brussels is a favorite occupation. Though there are no longer 22,000 lace makers as there were in the 17th century, visitors will have at least 40 lace makers’ shops from which to choose. Much lace is now machine made, but handmade lace can still be found. Art and antique shops are also abundant. Boutiques feature the latest fashions on several of the city’s streets.

Popular sports to be enjoyed in Brussels are soccer (voetbal in Flemish), archery, horse-ball, golf, and tennis. Nightly entertainment offers everything from discos to classical music to jazz and rock. Some clubs feature Latin music. Opera, ballet, and theater are all part of the cultural life of this outstanding city.


Brussels is in the valley of the Senne River in southeastern Belgium in Flemish Brabandt Province.

Time zone:
Belgium’s clocks are 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States, and 1 hour ahead of Greenwich mean time in the winter and 2 hours ahead in the summer under daylight saving time.

Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit):

  High Low
January – March 51F 30F
April – June 72F 41F
July – September 73F 51F
October – December 60F 32f

When to go:
Many residents of Brussels take vacations in July and August. This makes the city less crowded, but also means that some shops and restaurants will be closed. Belgium’s climate is temperate: never too hot or too cold; never too wet or too dry. Spring and autumn are cooler than summer and more changeable. A shower can spring up at any time.

It is advisable to bring a wool sweater, even in summer; if you happen to be there duirng a rainy spell, a raincoat and umbrella will be essential. Practical walking shoes are important, for rough cobblestones or for forest trails. Women wear skirts more frequently than do women in the United States, especially those over 35. Men would be wise to include a jacket and tie, especially if planning to visit one of the better restaurants.

Useful measurements:
Equivalent weights and measures
1 cm – 0.39 inches
1 meter – 3.28 feet / 1.09 yards
1 km – 0.62 miles
1 liter – 0.26 gallons
1 inch – 2.54 cm
1 foot – 0.39 meters
1 yard – 0.91 meters
1 mile – 1.60 km
1 gallon – 3.78 liters


local calls
Pay phones work with telecards, available in a number of denominations, starting at bf200. These cards can be purchased at any post office and at many newsstands. Most phone booths that accept telecards have a list indicating where cards can be bought.

International calls
Telephones are operated by Belgacom.
The country code is 32.
The Brussels city code is 02.
To dial abroad, 00+ the country code + the area code, + subscriber number.
Information 1207/1307 (local) or 1204;1304 (International.)

The least expensive way is to buy a high-denomination telecard and make a direct call from a phone booth. Most hotel rooms are equipped with direct-call telephones, but nearly all add a service charge that can be substantial. It’s better to ask beforehand what service charges are applied.

A service charge is included in restaurant and hotel bills, and tips are also included in the amount shown on the meter in taxis. Additional tipping is unnecessary unless you wish to say thank you for very good service

Visitor information:
Tourist information Brussels (TIB: tel. 02/513-8940 in the Hôtel De Ville On The Grand’place, is daily 9-6 during the main tourist season (off-season, Sunday 10-2; December through February, closed Sunday).

Belgium is a predominantly Roman-Catholic country. Most churches in Brussels are Roman-Catholic. In the Saint-Nicholas church off Grand’place services are held in other languages than French and Dutch. Most other religions also have prayer houses in Brussels. Check the phone directory to find the nearest mosque, synagogue, pPotestant church, orthodox church that is closest to your hotel or apartment.

Most movies in Brussels run in two different versions. 1. The original version with Dutch subtitles, 2. The version dubbed in French. If you want to see the original version look out for the films marked VO (version originale) at the entrance of the movie theaterue

Most international newspapers are available in Brussels on the day of publishing. The largest choice will be available in the newspaper shops around the Grand’place, stock exchange and Place de Brouckère.

The local press consists of French-language and Dutch-language newspapers and magazines. There is an English-language magazine about Brussels called The Bulletin . It is published weekly and focuses on ‘political, cultural and social news about Belgium and Brussels’ for English-speaking residents. It also comes with a list of the TV programs on the Brussels cable network.

Internet access:
Cyber Theater Avenue de la Toison-d’Or is a large café where, for a fee, you can access the internet. Some hotels have internet access also.

To use U.S. purchased electric powered equipment, bring a converter and an adapterue The electrical current in Belgium is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC); wall outlets take continental-type plugs, with two round prongs.

All U.S. citizens, even infants, need a valid passport to enter Belgium for stays of up to 90 days.

U.S. and Canadian residents do not require visas to visit Belgium for pleasure or business trips not exceeding three months.

U.S. Embassy (Boulevard du régent 27 tel. 02/513-3830

January 1 – New Year’s Day
March or April (varies) – Easter and Easter Monday
May 1 – Labor Day
May (varies) – Feast of the Ascension,
May (varies) – Whitsunday, Pentecost Monday
August 15 – Assumption of the Virgin
December 25 – Christmas day
December 26 – St. Stephen Day

police 101;
accident and ambulance 100
Doctor 02/479-1818.
Dentist 02/426-1026.

Late-night pharmacies:
One pharmacy in each district stays 24 hours; the roster is posted in all pharmacy windows. In an emergency call 02/479-1818.

Brussels is the official bi-lingual capital of Belgium. All official notices such as names of streets and traffic indications, fire prevention notices, fire exits, etc…are given in two languages: French and Dutch. The majority of the people in Brussels speak French. The French language in Brussels has sometimes been influenced by Dutch phase-structures that the people in France wouldn’t understand.

The other language is Dutch. Dutch in Belgium is also sometimes called Flemish but it is the same language as the one spoken in Holland, with differences in accent, vocabulary and influences from French phrase structures. Visitors will have no problem finding English speakers.

Currency is the Euro (EUR). The notes are in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 euro. The denominations of coins are 2 euro, 1 euro, 50 euro cent, 20 euro cent, 10 euro cent, 5 euro cent, 2 euro cent, and 1 euro cent.

In Belgium, VAT ranges from 6% on food and clothing to 33% on luxury goods. Restaurants are in between; 21% VAT is included in quoted prices. Many shops advertise that goods are available tax-free. At the time of purchase, by credit card, you pay the price without VAT and you also sign a guarantee in the amount of the sales tax. You are given two invoices: one is your record and the other must be stamped by customs when you leave Belgium (or the last EU country on your itinerary). You must return the stamped invoice to the store within three months, or you forfeit the guarantee.

Arriving in Brussels:
By air Most flights arrive at and depart from Zaventem 02/732-3111 Brussels’s national airport.

Belgium has two international airports, the main one being Zaventem, 14km northeast of Brussels. The other one, Deurne, is close to Antwerp and has less frequent flights to Amsterdam, London, Liverpool and Dublin only. Depending on when you leave, flights to London can be cheaper from Deurne. If you’re in Europe already, a bus or train is the best option. Eurolines and Hoverspeed Citysprint operate international bus services to and from Belgium.

Brussels has three main railway stations and is the central hub, with lines in all directions. Two companies operate car/passenger ferries to and from Britain: north sea ferries (overnight from Zeebrugge to Hull) and Ostende lines/ ferries (six boats daily between Ostend and Ramsgate).

Sample flying times are as follows: 6 hours, 50 minutes from New York to Brussels; seven hours from boston to Brussels. Return flights are about an hour longer

Getting around:

Courtesy buses serve airport hotels and a few downtown hotels. Inquire when making reservations.

Express trains leave the airport for the Gare Du Nord and Gare Centrale stations every 20 minutes (one train an hour continues to the Gare du Midi). The trip takes 20 minutes The trains operate from 6 am to midnight. Taxis are plentiful. A taxi to the city center takes about half an hour . You can save 25% on the fare by buying a voucher for the return trip if you use the Autolux taxi company. Beware of freelance taxi drivers. You have to go to a taxi stand (taxi’s won’t stop for you if you try to make them stop by waving in the middle of the street) Taxi’s can be of all different colors and car makes. Official taxis have an illuminated panel on top of the roof (called ‘sputnik’ by the cab-drivers) with the slogan ” Brussels gewest – taxi – région de Bruxelles”. There is a starting price (which depends on the time of day). If you go outside of the city limits, the rate goes up.

By car
Belgium is covered by an extensive network of four-lane highways. Brussels is 122 miles from Amsterdam on E19; 138 miles from Düsseldorf on E40; 133 miles from Luxembourg City on E411; and 185 miles from Paris. Brussels is surrounded by a beltway, marked “The Ring.” Exits to the city are marked “center.” There are several large underground parking facilities The one close to the Grand’place is particularly convenient for patrons of downtown hotels.

Drivers must carry a warning triangle, to be placed well behind the car in case of a breakdown. There are emergency telephones at intervals along the motorways. The speed limit is 130 kph (80 mph) on highways, 90 kph (56 mph) on secondary roads, and 50 kph (31 mph) in built-up areas. Driving with the flow may mean higher speeds than most U.S. drivers are accustomed to. At intersections, always check traffic from the right even if you’re on a thoroughfare; Belgian drivers can be reckless in insisting on “priority on the right.” Gas costs about the same as in other European countries, which means quite a bit more than in the United States.

Requirements: Your own driver’s license is acceptable. An international driver’s permit, available from the American or Canadian Automobile Association, is a good idea.

By Bus
Eurolines offers up to three daily express bus services from Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, and London. The Eurolines coach station is located at CCN Gare du Nord Rue du progrès 80 tel. 02/203-0707.

The metro, trams, and buses operate as part of the same system. All three are clean and efficient, and a single ticket can be used on all three. The best buy is a 10 trip ticket or a one day card. You need to stamp your ticket in the appropriate machine on the bus or tram; in the metro, your card is stamped as you pass through the automatic barrier. You can purchase these tickets in any metro station or at newsstands. Single tickets can be purchased on the bus.

Detailed maps of the Brussels public transportation network are available in most Metro stations and at the Brussels tourist office in the Grand’place 02/513-8940. You get a map free with a tourist passport (also available at the tourist office), which, for bf220 allows you a one-day transport card and bf1000 worth of museum admissions.

By train
Eurostar trains from London (Waterloo) use the channel tunnel to cut travel time to Brussels (Gare du Midi) to 3 1/4 hours. Trains stop at Ashford (Kent) and Lille (France). There are seven daily services. First and second class seats are available. A number of promotional fares are offered. Brussels is linked with Paris, Amsterdam, and Liège by new high-speed trains, which operate at full TGV speed on French tracks. In Belgium and Holland, until new tracks have been laid, they provide a slower but comfortable ride. Belgian National Railways (SNCB; tel. 02/203-3640 is the National rail line.

Some travel times:
Brussels-Bruges = 1h, Brussels-Ghent = 40 min, Brussels – Antwerp = 35 min, Brussels – liège = 1 h, Brussels – Amsterdam = 3h, Brussels – Cologne = 2h.

There are very few public toilets in Brussels. If you find one, expect to having to pay a fee, so always carry some small change with you. You can always find public toilets in the train stations and in some metro stations.

Quite a few people smoke in Belgium in general and in Brussels in particular. Smoking is forbidden in public spaces (trams, buses, railway station, airport, metro, churches, ..) In most cafés and restaurant there are separate sections for smokers and non-smokers.

The most frequently purchased souvenirs are : chocolates, beer, and lace.

Belgium is the best beer country in the world. There are nowadays numerous beer shops around the ‘Grand’place’ where you can buy most of the Belgian beers. Sample packs of beer are available which contain a few bottles of one specific kind of beer together with the matching beer glass ( in Belgium every beer has its own specially designed glass. It is said that Belgian beers do not taste good when drunk from a non-matching glass. Fruit beers (cherry, raspberry, peach, etc.) are specialties of the Brussels region

The Art and History Museum:
Jubelpark / parc du cinquantenaire, 10
1040 Brussels
Metro station: schumann or merode
From 9.30 – 5 pm (closed on Mondays)
From 10 -5 on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays
Admission charged
This Museum has an important collection of art objects from civilizations all over the world. It offers an overview of the history of human settlement in the five continents from prehistoric times until today. The Museum was founded in 1835 and was located in the Hallepoort/Porte de Hal, one of the last remaining medieval city gates of Brussels. In 1889 it was transferred to the newly built pavilions in the Cinquantenaire Park.. The Museum is part of the Royal Museums of Art and History.

Autoworld Museum:

brussels autoworld
Jubelpark / Parc du Cinquantenaire, 11
Metro station: Schumann or Merode
10- 5 (closed on Mondays) (November -March)
10 – 6 (closed on Mondays) (April – October)
Admission charged
The more than 400 cars in this museum comprise one of the world’s top collections of vintage and classic cars. On display also is the history of the automobile from 1886 up to the 1970’s. There is, first of all, an exhibit of Belgian automobiles. Belgian car manufacturers no longer exist, but names such as Minerva, FN, Imperia, Nagant, Germain and Vivinus are names that are familiar to those who are lovers of the automobile. These cars came out of Belgian factories in the pre-world war II era. There are also cars from the United States, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. There are also special models which belonged to the Belgian royal family and to US presidents Franklin Roosevelt and J.F.Kennedy.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart:
Blvd. Leopold II near the Bruparck.
8-5 daily
Metro: Simonis; then bus 87.
For a fee, climb up into the dome for a spectacular view of the city.
When standing on one of the hills surrounding the center of Brussels, one can always see the dome of the Basilica to the west. The Basilica was built to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence. In 1905 king Leopold II laid the first stone. According to the plans of architect Langerock it was to become a gigantic neo-Gothic church. The initial plans were stopped at the beginning of World War I. By the time construction resumed, a new architect, named Van Nuffel, was asked to construct a modern house of prayer. He changed the style from neo-Gothic to art deco. The result seems discordant to many. Construction of the church depended entirely on donations made by believers and these donations did not always yield the expected funds. The church was eventually finished in the late 1960’s with the construction of a dome and dedicated to the War Victories of 1918 and 1944.

The Belgian Center for Comic Strip Art:
Center Belge De La Bande Dessinée
Rue des Sables 20
tel. 02/219-1980.
Admission charged.
Tues.-Sunday 10-6.
Metro: Rogier/Botaniqu
Trams 90 92 and 93; bus 38.
An art nouveau building houses the world’s first Comic Strip Museum which exhibits over 400 original Tintin plates created by Hergé, as well as 25, 000 other cartoon works. The Waucquez warehouses are considered to be one of the masterpieces of the famous Belgian art nouveau architect, Victor Horta. Horta built the house in 1906 for the Waucquez family who used it for a wholesale cloth business. The building illustrates the principles of Horta’s architectural style: sunlight filters from the glass ceiling into the central hall, lighting the rest of the warehouse in a natural way. One of the most popular new art forms for Belgium is the comic strip. Since World War II, most Belgians have grown up with Belgian comic strips. Herge stands out as the most important writer He is the father of the best known Belgian comic strip: Tintin. Tintin has been delighting children since 1929, when he began his adventures as a boy reporter traveling the world and setting wrongs to right. Tintin’s adventures became one of the greatest early examples of the European strip cartoon. Willy Vandersteen is the best known name of the Flemish school. His most important creation is Suske and Wiske (in English known as Willy and Wanda). Since the 1950’s, however, the entire comic strips scene has boomed in Belgium. This museum illustrates this “9th Art” in Belgium, with sets of enlarged drawings, three-dimensional recreations, etc. One can also learn everything about the birth and the development of a comic strip series. The Museum also has a shop with albums and memorabilia of the different Belgian comic strip heroes.

Cathédrale Saint-Michel et Sainte-Gudule (Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudule):
Parvis Ste-Gudule
tel. 02/217-8345
Nov.-March, daily 7-6; April-Oct., Mon.-Sat. 7-7 Sunday 8-7.
The city’s principal church is a 13th-century edifice with twin Gothic towers and outstanding stained-glass windows. This church can be found at the Treurenberg hill on the edge between lower and upper town. Already at the beginning of the 11th century a church was situated here. In 1047 the duke of Brabant, Lambert II, had the relics of Saint Gudula transferred from the Saint Gorik church in downtown Brussels to the new church at Treurenberg hill. From that moment on the Saint Gudula and Saint Michael church took the lead over all the other churches in Brussels. Lambert II also gave the church a chapter of 12 canons (= priests who took care of the services and possessions of the church).

Because of its growing importance, the first St. Gudula church originally built in romanesque style was transformed in Gothic style as from the 13th century. The foundations of the first church can still be seen under the crypt of the Gothic cathedral. The Gothic choir was constructed between 1226 and 1276 nave and transept in the middle of the 15th century. The western facade, completed between 1450 and 1490 follows the example of the French Gothic facades. Via a large staircase (built in 1861 the three gates of the entrance can be reached. Inside, 12 pillars clearly determine the interior of the cathedral, whereas the triforia and glass-stained windows accentuate the later Gothic style which allowed more light to fall in to the church. The choir is darker because of the smaller window openings. In the northern chapel on the left side of the choir, one can see the portraits of several kings and emperors who bestowed the richly decorated glass-stained windows: Joao III of portugal, Louis of Hungary, François I of France and Ferdinand I. In the choir the windows of the following rulers can be seen: Maximilian of Austria, Philip the Beautiful, Charles V, Philip II of Spain, Philibert of Savoy with his wife Margaret of Austria. All through the 20th century the cathedral was almost continuously renovated. The renovation was completed in December 1999 when the marriage of the Belgian crown prince Philippe with his bride Princess Mathilda took place there, on the 4th of December.


The Chinese Pavilion and The Japanese Tower:
Avenue van Praet/ van Praetlaan 44
Tues-Sun. 10-5 Closed Monday
Admission charged.

The two monuments are located on the northern corner of the Royal Park .After his visit to the 1900 universal exhibition in Paris king Leopold II decided to have his park embellished with exotic monuments. He ordered the Parisian architect Alexandre Marcel to construct the Japanese tower and the Chinese pavilion. The entrance to the Japanese tower was built as a replica of the Japanese Pavilion at the Paris exhibitionthat had been constructed by a Japanese carpenter. The woodwork of both buildings was constructed by specialists from Yokohama and Shanghai.

The Heysel Exhibition Park (Bruparck):
A theme park in Brussels’ northern suburbs.
Metro 1A (Heizel/Heyzel)
In the 1930’s Belgium wanted to organize a world exhibition to show its prosperity after the disasters of World War I and also to celebrate the centenary of its independence. The exhibition surface in the Central Cinquantenaire Park had become too small. Therefore, it was decided that the Expo of 1935 was to take place north of the center of Brussels, in the Heizel/Heysel plains. This major event took 10 years to organize. The results were impressive. More than 20 million visitors came to Brussels, 182 buildings were constructed, 25 countries participated. More than 300 congresses, parades, festivals and concerts were organized. Each country was represented in a National pavilion where national products and accomplishments were shown to the rest of the world. Belgium also built a colonial pavilion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Congo freestate. A giant attraction park and a reconstruction of “old Brussels” drew large crowds to the Heysel. The result of restoration and additions to the site is Bruparck
Among its components are:

Daily shows: 258,10:30pm
Admission charged.
Said to be the world’s largest cinema complex, Kinepolis has 24 wide screen theaters and an IMAX screen seven stories high. All have a THX sound system. Films are shown in their original language (usually English) with Dutch and French subtitles.

March 25-June 30 and Sept. 1-November 1: 9:30-6 daily.
July 21-August 20 9:30-midmight daily.
July 1-August 31: 9:30-8 daily.
November 7-January 7 10-6 daily.
Admission charged.
A miniature world displaying models of major events in the history of Europe. Some are hands-on such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Visitors can make it happen. There are even scaled down replicas of the Channel Tunnel and the Ariane rocket.

April-June Tues-Thurs. 10- 6 Friday-Sunday 10-10
July and August: daily 10-10
Sept.-March Wed-Fri. 10-6 Sat., Sun. 10-10
Admission charged.
An indoor and outdoor aquatic paradise with giant flumes, wave machine, plastic beaches and palm trees. While in the area, the visitor pretends to be on a two hour Carribean holiday. Even in winter; swimming in a heated pool is offered while snow falls outside the fantasy world. Children seem to love it at any time of the year Adults can also relax in the sauna complex.

The Village
Open daily
An imitation Flemish style village. There are restaurants, cafés, all of which are convenient to Bruparck’s many attractions. there is also a well appointed children’s playground and a full program of events for families.

The Planetarium
Avenue de Bouchout/Bouchoutlaan 10
Call for hours.
Admision charged.
Situated just outside the Bruparck.

The Atomium
Blvd. du Centenaire
Daily (Summer) 9-8
Fall and winter: Daily 10-6
Metro: Heizel/Heysel
This monument from 1958 has become the Eiffel tower of Brussels. The Atomium is the visual representation of the concept of an “atom”. It symbolizes an elementary iron crystal with its 9 atoms and magnified 150 billion times. It honored the metal and iron industry and the belief in atomic power. The architect was André Waterkeyn. It took 18 months to conceive and another 18 months to construct. The monument is coated with aluminum, weighs 2.400 tons and is 102 meters high. Each sphere has a diameter of 18 meters. An elevator takes visitors to the upper sphere where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the Heysel area and (if the weather is clear) the city of Brussels.

The Guild Houses:
In medieval Belgium, traders and craftsmen formed groups known as guilds in order to set standards for their craft and establish a trade monopoly in their geographic area. The guilds were run by wealthy families who also tried to exert political influence and control town or city governments. During the 16th century, they began building headquarters, first of wood and then of stone. The guild leaders met regularly in these houses to discuss new rules or regulations within their specific trade or area of commerce.

In Brussels the guilds built their houses around the main town square. After the French bombardment of August 1695 the city ordered the guilds to submit the restoration plans of the houses before a final approval could be given for the construction. Because of this decision, the unity of style has been preserved and former irregularities done away with. In the Middle Ages no house numbers were given, only names. There were so few stone houses that most people could locate a house just by its name. On the Grand-Place the names of the houses are often indicated by a little statue or some part of the decoration. Here follows a list of the houses with their names and eventual specific historic details. The list starts at the group of houses on the left side of the Town Hall and continues clockwise: The mountain of Thabor – the rose -the golden tree – the swan (now an upscale restaurant “La Maison du Cygne (House of the Swan). The star (in the middle ages this house was occupied by the amman, the duke’s representative in the city. Under the arcade is a statue of Everard ‘t Serclaes, a medieval Brussels hero. Legend has it that hitting the arm of the statue brings luck. ) (The Town Hall)- the fox (house of the Traders Guild with the statue of St. Nicolas on top) – the horn (House of the Sailors. The upper floor looks like the rear end of a ship) – the She-wolf – the Sack – the Wheelbarrow The King of Spain (house of the Guild of the Bakers ) – the Mule – Saint Barbara – the Samaritan – the oak – the peacock – the helmet – (the king’s house) – – the Merchand of Gold – the pigeon – the golden sloop – the angel – Joseph and Anna – the deer

The Horn
This house of the Sailor’s Guild has a gable that is in the form of the stern of a 17th century sailing ship.

Brewers’ Guild House Grand-Place/Grote Markt 10
Daily 10-5
Admission charged.
The headquarters of the brewers’ trade association and their guild, the Knights of the Marsh Staff. There is also a museum of brewing. Belgium poroduces more than 400 kinds of beer. For a small entrance fee, a tour is given and beer can be sampled.

The Pigeon
Grand-Place 26-27
Victor Hugo lived here in 1851 above what is now a shop selling lace.

Horta Museum
Amerikaanse straat / Rue américaine, 23-25
From 2pm to 5.30pm (closed on Mondays and holidays)
Admission charged
tram 91 or 92 to Ma Campagne
This is not a Museum in the traditional sense. It is not a building in which the objects displayed draw all the attention. In this case, the building itself is the object displayed. The Horta Museum was actually the house that Victor Horta built for himself in the late 1890’s. It provides an excellent example of the style that made Horta one of the most acclaimed architects in Belgium.

The art nouveau style was popular in Europe, and especially in Brussels, between 1893 and 1918. The characteristics are: the use of industrial materials like steel and iron in the visible parts of houses, new movement of design asinspired by nature (e.g. the famous whiplash motive, which occurs very often in the Art nouveau style and especially in the work of Horta), decorative mosaics or sgraffito on the façades of houses, etc… Most of these principles can be seen applied in the Horta Museum’s structure. This house also shows one of the great innovations of Horta: the rooms are built around a central hall. From the beautiful glass ceiling light falls into the house thereby creating a much more natural illumination of the building than was the case in the traditional late 19th century houses in Brussels and Belgium.

The King’s House
32(022794350 fax: 32(022794362
Admission charged.
Mon -Thurs 10 – 12:30, 1:30 – 5 ( 1 October – 31 March until 4)
Closed on Fridays and bank holidays
Saturday and Sunday: 10 – 1
At the market place, opposite the Town Hall, stands another of the remarkable historical buildings of Brussels. The beautiful neo-Gothic building with its many decorative statues is the “Maison du roi” in French or “Broodhuis” in Dutch. It contains the City Museum.

The Dutch name “Broodhuis” (I.e. bread house) clearly shows the origins of this building. In the beginning of the 13th century a wooden building stood in this spot from which the bakers sold their bread. In 1405 a stone building replaced the original wooden bread hall. During the early 15th century the bakers turned to selling their products from house to house, and the ancient bread hall was used more and more for administrative purposes by the duke of Brabant. It became known then as “Maison du roi” (the King’s House). During the reign of Emperor Charles V, the king’s house was rebuilt in Gothic style from 1515 until 1536.

After the French bombardment of 1695 the building was restored only as far as was necessary to keep it from collapsing. In the following centuries it was used for different purposes. In 1860 the mayor of Brussels, Jules Anspach convinced the city authorities to buy the old king’s house which by then was in a sorry state. The entire building had to be rebuilt. The restoration was done in the then fashionable neo-Gothic style. On June the 2nd 1887 the king’s house became the city Museum of Brussels. On exhibition are original statues from the Town Hall, as well as paintings, wall tapestries and artifacts which relate to the history of the city.

The City Museum:
Monday – Thursday (April to October): 10 -12.30 and 1.30 – 5 (Nov.-Mar.until 4pm)
Weekends 10 – 1
Admission charged
Grote Markt / Grand’place
32 -02-279 43 58
The City Museum is situated in the king’s house on the Grand’place of Brussels. In 1884 Brussels established a museum dedicated to presenting details of the city’s rich past. The Museum opened in 1887. The beginnings were modest. The small collection was housed on the second floor of the building. The collection has continued to grow over the intervening years. . A plan to use the entire building for the City Museum collection in 1935 was interrupted during World War II. Finally, in 1960, the City Museum space was enlarged to utilize the entire building. On the ground level is a collection of art objects showing: wall tapestries (some based on paintings made by Barend Van Orley and Peter Paul Rubens): The typical elements of a Brussels wall tapestry are the use of the colours red, blue and brown and the presence of a border which was decorated with fruits or plant motives. The scenes represented could be religious as well as historical. The tapestries were woven based on sketches made by important painters (e.g. Van Orley, Rubens, etc) Sometimes the Brussels origin of a tapestry can be detected through the presence of the initials b.b on the lower border. This initials were used as the Brussels trade mark and meant ‘Brussels in Brabant’, Brabant being the dukedom of which Brussels was the capital. Brussels wall tapestries are now spread all over the world. Tapestries wereoriginally meant for the decoration (and also insulation) of the immense, drafty rooms in the different European castles and courts.

In addition to tapestries there are also many paintings displayed (among them a Wedding Procession attributed to Brueghel the elder), altar pieces, and goldsmith work. On the second floor one can see a collection of documents and miniature scale models which outline the development and growth of the city. The third floor shows the cultural, economic and social development of Brussels through historical documents, paintings, engravings, scientific documents and manuscripts. On this floor the wardrobe of Manneken pis can be seen. The little boy already possesses a collection of more than 650 costumes.

The David and Alice Van Buuren Museum:
Avenue Léo Errera, 41
House and garden : Sunday 1 -5.15 Monday 2 – 5.15
Garden only : Daily 2 -5
Admission Charged
The museum is located in the house in which David and Slice Van Buuren lived. It opened in 1973. In 1970 Mrs.Van Buuren had established the “Friends of the Museum of David and Alice Van Buuren” society, to which she left by will the house, the garden, the works of art as well as a substantial donation which would serve as an endowment to insure the continued availability of funds in years to come. During his life, Mr. David Van Buuren, was a fervent collector of fine works of art. The Van Buurens turned their property into a living museum. The house itself was built in 1928. It was constructed in a typical Dutch style and decorated by well known Belgian, French and Dutch designers. In the various rooms of the house the visitor can view the sculptures and paintings displayed within an exquisite setting of rare and precious furniture, luxurious woodwork and signed tapestries. The entire “art deco” setting in which the Van Buurens lived,has been carefully preserved. The surrounding gardens never ceases to amaze the visitor. The gardens are laid out in three sections. First, there is the “picturesque garden” designed by Jules Buyssens (1924 ). A masterpiece of art deco design, it recalls the spirit of the “roaring twenties”. Second, the “labyrinth” by René Pechère, constructed in 1968. Its 300 elms lead to 7 rooms of plantings selected to illustrate the “Song of Solomon”. The last section is the “garden of the heart” by René Pechère, built in 1969-1970.

The Grand’place:
(Grote Markt – Market Square)
The Grand-Place is the main tourist attraction of the city of Brussels. All through the year it is visited by thousands who like to spend some time wandering around and admiring the beautiful buildings, or sitting down on one of the many terraces having a good Belgian beer Concerts and musical happenings are organized all through the year on the square. The most famous events that take place here are the annual Ommegang (an historical procession at the beginning of July) and the biennial flower carpet.

Manneken pis. (Also known as Petit Julien):
Corner of Rue de l’etuve and Rue du chêne.
This small bronze statue of a chubby boy urinating into a fountain is known as “Brussels’ oldest citizen.” The first mention of the statue came from documents dating back to about 1377, but the current version is a copy; the original was kidnapped by French soldiers in 1747. In restitution King Louis XV of France presented the statue with a gold-embroidered suit, the first of a collection of ceremonial costumes that now numbers over 500.

Musée d’Art ancien (Part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts):
rue de la régence 3. This Museum lies next to the Museum of Modern Art.
Tues.-Sunday 10-noon and 1-5. (closed on Mondays)
Admission charged. Artists united to form powerful guilds in the 15th century. They turned the cities in the low countries into centers of European Art. Most of their work was done using wooden panels. After having made the representation on the panel, they applied the colourful paint. Through this procedure thin layers of unmixed, pure mineral paint were applied on top of each other. These optically mixed colours gave their work a unique depth as can be seen in the works of Van Eyck, Rogier Van der Weyden, Dirk Bouts, Hugo Van der Goes, Petrus Christus, Gerard David and Hans Memling. They also experimented with perspective. In many of the earliest works of the 15th century perfection had not been achieved. Also the setting of the (mostly) religious scenes started to change. Until the beginning of the 15th century, most religious scenes were set against a colored background. In the first decades of the 15th century, the divine personae were painted against a contemporary and very realistic background (such as typical Flemish landscapes, typical Gothic living-rooms and church interiors).

This Museum contains an extensive collection of excellent paintings from the low countries and the world. In the entrance hall several sculptures can be seen of Belgian and international sculptors (for example: Meunier, Lambeau, Rodin, etc.) The main accent, however, is on the collection of old masters with its 1200 paintings. On the first floor are the masterpieces of the 15th and 16th century. Among the famous names are: the Master of Flémalle, Rogier Van der Weyden, the Master of Aix, Barend Van Orley, Dirk Bouts, Hieronymus Bosch, Lucas Cranach and Quentin Metsys. The pride of the Museum is the Bruegel collection, of which the “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus” is considered to be one of the seven wonders of Belgium. Most visitors go directly to the Bruegel and Rubens rooms, but there are also works by Van Dyck, Bosch, the great Flemish primitives of the 15th century, and a fine collection of 19th-century works.

The Museum of Modern Art (Part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts):
Koningsplein / place royale, 1-2
1000 Brussels.
Admission free.
Tues.-Sunday 10-1 and 2-5. (closed on Mondays and public holidays).
Admission charged
Housed in a building that is an amazing feat of modern architecture that burrows seven floors underground around a central light well, this collection holds mainly Belgian and French Art of the past 100 years. Highlights include works by the Belgian surrealists Delvaux and Magritte. In 1984 a new Museum complex was opened near the royal square. In this complex, the collection of modern masters of the Museum of the fine arts is now housed. The entrance, situated in a neo-classical building at Place Royal, leads to the underground Museum, built around a central light well, where the displays are arranged in chronological order.

The ‘modern masters’ of the 19th century are located on the ground level of the Museum of Ancient Art , which can be reached via an underground passage between the two Museums. In the collection of the 20th century the following are represented : fauvism ( Wouters, Spilliaert, Auguste Oleffe, Ferdinand Shirren, Jean Brusselmans), surrealism: (Rene Magritte with 26 major works, Paul Delvaux, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Tanguy, etc), Futurism (Schmalzigaug, Prosper de Troyer), abstractionism (Peters, Victor Servranckx, Flouquet), young Belgian painters: (Louis Van Lint, Bonnet, Mendelson, Mortier, Delahaut), the Cobra Movement (with Karel Appel, Pierre Aleschinsky) and others such as Pol Dury, Christian Dotremont, Lacomblez. Among the modern sculptors whose works are displayed are: Wouters, Jespers, Cantré, Puvrez, Bury, Leplae, George Segal, Tony Cragg, Strebelle, Ubac.

Natural Science Museum:
rue Vautier 29
9:30-4:45 Tues-Sat 9:30-6 on Sunday
Admission charged.
Bus 34,80
The Museum of the Royal Institute for Natural Sciences of Belgium gives a fascinating overview of natural life over the course of time. This large complex is on a hill overlooking Parc Léopold. It is an excellent place to visit with children. The major attraction of the Museum is its collection of the so-called “iguanadons of Bernissart”. Skeletons of these dinosaurs were found in the late 19th century in the small village of Bernissart in the south of Belgium. The beautifully reconstructed skeletons draw many people every year This is an ideal Museum to visit with children.

Other permanent collections are:
The inhabitants of the seas of the jurassic and cretaceous eras; “Of Men and Mammoths” – The evolution of mankind, with special focus on ice-age men and their environment; The insect world (e.g. an animated termite mound); Whales – 18 skeletons; Mammals – on display are 80 of the 107 existing mammal families; The fauna in Belgium – with dioramas; Mineralogy – (also fragments of moon rock and meteorites). The new Arctic and Antarctic galleries are well presented and lead into the whale room where the skeleton of a blue whale is suspended from the ceiling.

The Notre Dame Church of Laken:
Laken is the name of one of the suburbs of Brussels. It is also the community where the royal family of Belgium lives in the royal residence, near the Notre Dame church. Not far away is the Heysel area with the Atomium and mini-Europe. The church was built in 1854 during the reign of King Leopold I, to commemorate the death of his wife Louise-Marie of Orléans, Belgium’s first queen . The construction continued until 1908. The Notre Dame church was designed by Joseph Poelaert, the architect of the Brussels Palace Of Justice. Behind the church, in the cemetery of Laken, can be seen the choir of the old Medieval church which used to stand here. This cemetery is certainly worth a visit because of the magnificent late 19th century tombstones

Children’s Museum
Rue du Bourgmestre 15
Weekends; Wednesday, and school holidays 2:30-5:30
Admission charged.
Exibitions and displays on the changing patterns of children’s lives in Belgium and abroad.

Toy Museum
Rue de l”Association/Verenigingsstraat 24 Brussels
Daily 10-6
Admission charged
Metro: Madou
Historical toys and other aspects of children’s lives over years past.

Natural History Museum
29 rue Vautier/Vautierstraat
Tues-Sat. 9:30-4:45 Sun.: 9:30-6
Admission charged.
Leopold District Railroad Station
Dinosaur skeletons, dioramas of prehistoric life and displays of the natural world are featured.

Museum of Transport
Avenue de Tervuren/Tevurenlaan 364b, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Brussels
First Saturday in April-first Sunday in October weekends and holidays only: 1:30-7
Admission and excursion charge.
Tram 39 or 44 from Metro: Montgomery
Vintage horse drawn and electric trams are on display at this fascinating museum. Featured are historical excursions on various interesting modes of transportation. There is also a book shop.

April-August daily and weekends in Sept. 10-6
Admission charged.
Exit 6 from E411 Brussels-Namur motorway. By train: Bierges-Walibi station (walk 500 feet to park)
An outstanding amusement park near Brussels. Fun for all ages. Includes the Kangaroo Walibi Boat Trip to the land of Tintin (popular Belgian cartoon character); Lucky Luke City, with a gold mine, saloon, and bank in the style of the Old West; and the terrifying 250 ft. high Skydive ride.

Boulevard du Centenaire
April 1 – August 31 daily 9-8
Sept. 1-March 31 daily 10-6.
Admission charged.
Metro: Heizel/Heysel
Nine giant metal spheres are linked by tubular rods to represent the atomic structure of iron. The Atomium opened in 1958 for the World Expo in Brussels. Inside the topmost sphere is an observation deck that gives a superb circular panorama of the city. Most of the interior is devoted to a self guided display on the Atomium presented via comic strips.

A theme park in Brussels’ northern suburbs.
Metro 1A (Heizel/Heyzel)
Among its components are:
Daily shows: 258,10:30pm
Admission charged.
Said to be the world’s largest cinema complex, Kinepolis has 24 wide screen theaters and an IMAX screen seven stories high. All have a THX sound system. Films are shown in their original language (usually English) with Dutch and French subtitles.

March 25-June 30 and Sept. 1-November 1: 9:30-6 daily.
July 21-August 20 9:30-midmight daily.
July 1-August 31: 9:30-8 daily
November 7-January 7 10-6 daily.
Admission charged.
A miniature world displaying models of major events in the history of Europe. Some are hands-on such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Visitors can make it happen. There are even scaled down replicas of the Channel Tunnel and the Ariane rocket.

April-June Tues-Thurs. 10- 6 Friday-Sunday 10-10
July and August: daily 10-10
Sept.-March Wed-Fri. 10-6 Sat., Sun. 10-10
Admission charged.
An indoor and outdoor aquatic paradise with giant flumes, wave machine, plastic beaches and palm trees. While in the area, the visitor pretends to be on a two hour Carribean holiday. Even in winter; swimming in a heated pool is offered while snow falls outside the fantasy world. Children seem to love it at any time of the year Adults can also relax in the sauna complex.

The Village
Open daily
An imitation Flemish style village. There are restaurants, cafés, all of which are convenient to Bruparck’s many attractions. there is also a well appointed children’s playground and a full program of events for families.

The Planetarium
Avenue de Bouchout/Bouchoutlaan 10
Call for hours.
Admision charged
Situated just outside the Bruparck.

Exhibitions Park
Place de Belgique/Belgiëplein
Open daily
Admission charged.
Belgium’s main exhibition center where prestige events are held such as the Car Show; Travel Fair; and Ideal Homes Exhibition

International Film Festival
This festival has been held for over 30 years. It features first release independent US and European films. It takes place at the Palais des Congrès 02/513-4130.

Antique Fair
The annual 10 day event is held at Brussels’ Palais des Beaux-Arts in late January. It offers the best from antique dealers in Belgium and neighboring countries and is eagerly anticipated each year.

International Cartoon and Animated Film Festival
This festival is a world premier of feature length films and about 100 shorts produced in Belgium and elsewhere.

Chocolate Passion Fair
Held on St. Valentine’s weekend at Place du Grand Sablon. The theme is chocolate.

Celebrated throughout Belgium with the largest and most popular celebration occurring one hour southwest of Brussels in Binche. The highlight is on Shrove Tuesday when the elaborately costumed local men dance in the town’s central square.

Late April-early May:
The Royal Greenhouses
02/513-0770 at Laeken Palace near Brussels, with superb flower and plant arrangements, are open to the public for a limited period of about 10 days.

Festival van Vlaanderen
Brussels hosts this classical music festival, which continues until October.

The Queen Elisabeth international music competition
02/513-0099 is one of the most demanding events of its kind. The categories rotate: in 2000 the theme was piano; in 2001 voice and in 2002 violin

The Kunsten Festival des Arts
02/512-7450 is a month-long international celebration of contemporary drama, dance, and music.

Late May:
The Brussels Jazz Marathon
0900/00606 The last weekend in May brings jazz bands and enthusiasts to the stages all over the city for a series of concerts. Gigs and informal sessions in more than 50 clubs and pubs, plus outdoor concerts in the Grand’place and Grand Sablon featuring leading jazz musicians. One ticket for all events, includes free shuttle between venues and public transport.

Brussels 20km Run
Annual competition held in the streets of the capital on a Sunday in mid -May which attracts about 20,000 runners.

Battle of Waterloo
Every 5 years in mid-June the battle of Waterloo is re-enacted. The next scheduled re-enactment is in 2005.

Couleur Café
During the last weekend in June, world music, dance, rap and drums come together for a three day festival.

Late June or early July:
02/512-1961 takes over Brussels’s Grand’place. It’s a sumptuous and stately pageant reenacting a procession that honored Emperor Charles V in 1549. Book early.

Festival of Wallonia
Young Belgian musicians perform classical concerts throughout Brussels and Wallonia until October.

Foire du Midi
This huge, annual month long fun fair runs from mid-July on the Blvd. du Midi. Large crowds, a ferris wheel, roller coasters, Belgian waffles, are all part of the enjoyment of the event.

July 21:
Belgium’s National Day
is celebrated in Brussels with a military March, followed by a popular feast in the parc de Bruxelles and brilliant fireworks.

August 9:
A procession of “giants” parades from the Sablon to the Grand -Place and a maypole is planted there.

A flower carpet, painstakingly laid out, covers and transforms the entire Grand’place of Brussels for two days. Even years only; next in 2002.

Every other year, the Europalia festival honors a different country with exhibitions, concerts, and other events amounting to a thorough inventory of its cultural heritage. In 2001 a country will be thus honored in Brussels and in other European cities .02/507-8550.

Les Nuits Botanique
A week of celebrating rock, international music and pop is held in the Botanique in mid-September.

2nd weekend in September:
On National Heritage Day on selected weekends in September 02/511-1840 buildings and monuments of architectural or historical interest throughout Belgium, that are not normally accessible to the public, are opened to all.

2nd weekend in December:
The European Christmas Market in the Grand’place in Brussels features the traditions and products of many different European Union countries

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