I’ve been in Brussels at least 50 times, mostly for work, but sometimes purely for play. After finishing uni, I hung about Brussels for ages, partly because I wasn’t ready to begin a proper job right away, and partly because that’s where everyone was in those days. Later, when I did get around to finding a job, it was one that brought me to Brussels frequently. In fact, I was there for an EU committee meeting on the very day Norway had the referendum which rejected yet another invitation to join the union.
And that’s perhaps what first comes to mind when thinking of Brussels. Not Norway, specifically, in fact, not Norway at all – but the European Union.
flags outside the European Parliament
But Brussels is a city in its own right, beyond being the capital of Europe. There’s yummy chocolate, first-rate beer, fabulous architecture and groovy street art, and there’s TinTin. What more could one want? Here are a few Brussels Instagrams.
Brussels main square, La Grand-Place, is one of the prettiest in all of Europe, encircled by the 15th century town hall the 16th century King’s House and several 17th century guildhalls. I love how the various architectural styles – some are Baroque, some are Gothic and some Louis XIV – work so beautifully together.
Grand Place is surrounded by little streets and alleys full of quirky shops, bars and cafes. I always seem to pop into the TinTin boutique and adore the clever little Belgian journalist.
On my last visit, I was lucky enough to catch the International Festival of Ice Sculptures ‘Ice Magic’, dedicated to the world of comics – including (but not limited to) Smurfs, Thor, Asterix, Gaston Lagaffe, Thorgal, Lucky Luke and, of course, TinTin and his entourage.
The temperamental Captain Haddock
He is indeed a Brussels icon, and the subject of several works of art around town.
Even without TinTin, the street art scene of Brussels is dynamic and colourful.
The city’s architecture is world class, and not just La Grand-Place. This is the apartment (and museum) of Victor Horta, one of several gorgeous Art Nouveau town houses in Brussels he built in the late 1800s.
The Horta Museum is located in St Gilles, Brussels’ artistic neighbourhood, full of galleries, boutiques and pubs.
Another notable architectural feat is Stoclet House, designed by Josef Hoffman and an excellent example of the Vienna Secession movement.
But food….. isn’t there any food? From the country that has given us some of the world’s most famous beers, chocolates, frites (fries), and waffles, surely just one Brussels Instagram of food…
OK, since you asked: Here’s just a small selection of the ubiquitous Gaufre belge:
La Grand-Place, the townhouses of Victor Horta and Stoclet House are all UNESCO World Heritage sites – that’s three for one here in Brussels.
Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites we have visited around the world.