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Best Museums in Brussels for Art and History Lovers

Best Museums in Brussels for Art and History Lovers

The capital of Belgium will surely delight those fascinated with history and various art styles. Here’s what not to miss on your next visit.

Brussels may be popular as a cultural hub, but not many people know that it’s home to so many museums. In fact, the number is nearing 100 as peculiar smaller museums keep emerging and for a good reason – Belgium’s capital city is filled with treasures that can satisfy the appetite of every avid museum-goer. 

If you love history, art, and seeing niche collections that are hard to find elsewhere, Brussels is the city for you. Take a look at the following list of the best museums in Brussels and make sure you visit them on your next trip.

1. Brussels City Museum

What better place to start your museum tour than at the place that showcases the fascinating history of the very city? 

The Brussels City Museum building is an architectural wonder in its own right. It’s made in the Neo-Gothic style and has been a national heritage site ever since 1936. This museum also has a name to match – Maison du Roi, which is French for The King’s Household.

There are over 7,000 exhibits in the museum, including paintings, maps, sculptures, and porcelain figurines. The insight into the city’s history that you’ll get from the museum offers an ideal beginning of your journey.

2. Museum of Original Figurines

Entirely devoted to comic book characters and their three-dimensional representations, the Museum of Original Figurines is a wonderland for comic book fans. It’s where you can find exhibits covering classical and modern American comics, Japanese manga, and local Belgian and Flemish editions. 

The museum also showcases the various stages every comic book passes through before it’s finalized. If you have at least a passing interest in this subject, you’ll get a lot from your visit. And if you’re a real comic book lover, you could proceed to the Comics Art Museum for even more great experiences.

3. Brussels Gueuze Museum

Located in the Cantillon Brewery, the Brussels Gueuze Museum is all about the history of beer. It’s where you can see various pieces of brewing equipment that are a century old or older. The museum gets its name from a particular variety of beer made without yeast. 

The recipe and method of making Gueuze beer stem from the Middle Ages and the visit to this museum will let you learn how to brew the rare sort. The reason you’ll have that chance is that you’ll be visiting the last brewery that still produces Gueuze beer. 

4. Museum of Natural Sciences

The amazing Museum of Natural Sciences is largely known under a different name. It’s often called the Brussels Dinosaur Museum, named as such because it’s the most expansive gallery showcasing the ancient reptiles with no match in Europe. 

The dinosaurs are presented incredibly well and are, of course, fascinating. While the stars of the show are the Iguanodons, there are other equally captivating exhibits. 

The Museum of Natural Sciences features other galleries as well, including those devoted to humankind and evolution. Additionally, as is the practice of many respected museums, there are yearly exhibitions that change periodically.

5. Museum of Fantastic Art

Museum of Fantastic Art is among the gems that will provide you with an experience rarely seen in other places. But the best way to describe the artwork you can find here is – strange. 

It’s because the exhibits in this museum focus on the fantastical and surrealistic art done in any number of techniques. Among the otherworldly wonders that the Museum of Fantastic Art offers is the Elephant Man and works such as ‘The killer flies’ and ‘Mato Grosso mummy,’ which should give you some idea of the art direction in question.

6. Belgian Comic Strip Center

We teased the expansive collection of comic and cartoon art when talking about the Museum of Original Figurines. Now, entering the glorious Art Nouveau estate that houses the Comic Strip Center where you can explore the legends of the art form. 

You’ll find here some memorable characters such as Lucky Luke, Tin Tin, the Smurfs, and more, nestled alongside some favorites of Belgian origin. 

And if you want to explore more and perhaps take home some of the art, there’s an excellent book store to browse. Finally, you can stop by the restaurant located inside the center to take a break and have lunch.

7. The Clockarium

The Clockarium is precisely what you would expect from the name, but with a particular twist. This is a clock museum but the exhibits fall into a very narrow niche – most of the clocks are ceramic and made in the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 30s. 

The museum collection contains over a thousand clocks that vary in shape and decoration style.  It might sound extravagant, but the exhibits are well worth seeing. And since you can pause and have a nice cup of tea in the Clockarium, visiting this unique place is a great idea.

8. Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History

The Belgian Army might not be very famous on its own, but the Royal Museum provides an interesting insight into the history of European armed conflicts.

The museum houses over 100,000 various objects that tell the tale of war in Europe along with a detailed history of Belgian armed forces. The aviation section is especially fascinating, as it showcases different types of military aircraft.

9. Musical Instruments Museum

The Musical Instruments Museum has an impressive collection of over 1,100 instruments, including modern and historical examples. The exhibits are divided into four galleries and you can take an audio tour, which is especially exciting. 

It’s also interactive, as the music played on a particular instrument is transferred via WiFi straight to your headphones, allowing you to hear the instruments in action. The museum also features additional amenities, such as a workshop space, concert hall, library, shop, and a restaurant on the roof. 

All things considered, this is one of the most enjoyable experiences for music lovers.

10. Magritte Museum

Rene Magritte was a world-famous artist who produced some of the greatest examples of the surrealist school of Verism. Although some of his works are housed in galleries around the world, the museum named after him has been quite respectable ever since it opened in 2009.

The artwork exhibited in the Magritte Museum showcases the evolution of the artist’s personal style. You’ll also find the story of his artistic development further detailed through letters and videos.

A Place of Incredible Culture and History

Brussels is very rich in historical heritage and the abundance of museums shows that cultural treasure to everybody interested. 

From the classical arts to the modern and abstract, there’s much to see and the only limiting factor might be the lack of time. That’s why if you love visiting museums and learning about history and culture, Brussels will be a city you’ll return to multiple times.

Trip Ideas

Brussels Isn’t Just About Sprouts – 12 Gorgeous Sights in Belgium’s Capital

Brussels Sights

Brussels Isn’t Just About Sprouts – 12 Gorgeous Sights in Belgium’s Capital

Brussels is the seat of today’s European politics. And it’s also a city with gorgeous and unique landmarks.

Brussels has two parts – the old part of town and the new part of town. As such, it is a very diverse tourist destination that makes it Belgium’s most visited city. What’s even better? The city is small enough for you to easily visit all the important landmarks and monuments.

When you’re done munching on Belgian fries and sampling the local beers, here are some places you might want to visit.

1.   Take a Grand Tour of the Grote Markt

The Grote Markt, or Grand Place, is the center of Brussels Old Town. This main plaza is well-preserved and features unique architecture. Don’t forget to check out the stonework – it’s amazing and everything is highly detailed.

Most of the buildings and sculptures here date back to before 1700. While there is some Flemish influence in the style, everything is predominantly Baroque.

The town hall building still looks great for a building commissioned in 1402. But then again, so does everything else in the Grand Place.

2.   Tour the Saint-Michel Cathedral

Construction on the Gothic Saint-Michel Cathedral started in 1225 but was only finished in the 15th century. And over time, numerous artists contributed to the cathedral’s artwork and stained-glass windows.

A majestic building with twin high towers and a lavish interior, it’s a top Brussels attraction for anyone, especially architecture students and history buffs.

3.   Photo Shoot at the Royal Palace

The Royal Palace is still the official residence of the Belgian royal family. That’s why the iconic Changing of the Guard event still happens here at 2:30 pm every day.

You can also take photos of various Neoclassical buildings surrounding the palace. Don’t forget to walk around the garden. It looks perfect all the time and makes for a great photoshoot location on a sunny day.

Here’s an interesting fact: if you see the flag flown up on the roof, it means that the sovereign is home.

4.   Enjoy Some Pop Culture Exhibits

Brussels isn’t just about the old part of town and historic buildings.

The Comic Strip Center, commissioned in 1906, is a different kind of attraction. This spot hosts some of the largest cartoon and comics exhibits around. In fact, many Belgian and French artists have rotating exhibits here.

Don’t forget to check out original artwork, drafts, and manuscripts of various artists. It will leave you in awe at their talent.

5.   Tour the Royal Museum of Fine Arts

The first collection in this museum dates back to 1797. And today, it hosts not just one of Belgium’s greatest art galleries but also the world’s.

Most of the paintings on display here are by Flemish and Dutch painters. There’s a good selection of classic pieces here, as well as artwork mainly from the 19th century and 20th century.

6.   Take in a Surreal Landmark Attraction

One of the most popular things to do in Belgium is to check out the Atomium. This unique building, designed after a molecule of iron, is made of steel and aluminum. It stands 334.6ft tall and is very unusual from an architectural standpoint.

What surprises people the most is that the building is fully functional. You can go inside in four of the nine existing spheres. That’s where you can catch the show known as Biogenium. And it’s an interesting presentation, particularly if you’re interested in biology, chemistry, and human life.

7.   Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Belgium is famous for its chocolate and beer. And for chocolate lovers, a tour of the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate is a must.

It’s also one of the most intriguing museums in Brussels, featuring sculptures, exhibits, and demonstrations. The small entry fee and free samples make it worth your while. But if you’re not interested in history, go here at least for the spinning wheel that pours melted chocolate.

8.   Look at More Weird Attractions

Interested in more unique attractions in Brussels? Belgium has no shortage of weird landmarks. A case in point is Manneken Pis. This little bronze statue of a boy “filling up” the fountain underneath gathers huge crowds.

What makes it most interesting, and hilarious, is that the statue gets dressed for various occasions, depending on what events are taking place. While it is a bit weird that it gets so much attention, it’s also a free tourist spot.

9   Relax and Take in the Scenery

While many know Brussels for its majestic historic buildings, it’s also home to a huge park. The Bois de la Cambre spans 247 acres and is an ideal place for anyone to relax.

You can go on a bike ride through the park, have a picnic or enjoy a boat ride while enjoying the view and fresh air. You don’t even have to pay an entrance fee to enjoy the park.

There aren’t any cars allowed on the weekends, which makes it even better.

10.   Tour the Cinquantenaire Park

Dating back to the 1800s, its construction marked Belgium’s 50th year of independence. And this park is host to amazing gardens and fountains. But, it’s not the only attraction here.

The park houses several museums, too. These include the Royal Military Museum and the Autoworld museum, which are among the most popular. Various events also happen here throughout the year, so it’s best to plan ahead.

11.   Enjoy the Winter Festivities in Brussels

Summer is not the only time to visit Brussels. Because if you go during the winter you can experience the Christmas markets, which are famously known as Winter Wonders.

During this time, the Grand Place turns into a Christmas-themed location where you can get your trinkets, drinks, light shows, and more. There are even live performances and traditional carnival rides, not to mention parades, that you don’t want to miss out on.

12. Check Out the European Union’s Headquarters

Believe it or not, the European District is one of the most unique places to visit in Belgium.

While it’s undeniably an important district for European politics, economics, and social rights, it’s also a very lively spot in the evening. There are many parks and bars around where you can spend some time while feeling the culture and history of the EU around you.

Brussels – Go for the Food and Drinks, Stay for the Scenery

Many visit Brussels to sample some of the best beers, fries, and chocolates in the world. But the city is more than that – it’s also rich in history and art. And given the size of Brussels, you can easily see a lot of everything even with limited time here.

There is plenty to do in the summer and winter. Whether you want to see a car museum, military exhibits, or take a boat ride, nothing is off-limits.

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Europe

What to Do on Your Next Trip to Brussels

What to Do on Your Next Trip to Brussels

With plenty of available attractions and activities, the more challenging question would be what not to do in Brussels. The city’s full of wonderful experiences and the following are a must.

Brussels is a city teeming with a variety of offerings that can satisfy almost every taste. What’s even better, in many cases, is that there are no limitations on things to do in Brussels – the language barrier or travel budget will hardly be an issue. 

From the rich culture and sights that might surprise you to the fantastic cuisine and the enticing nightlife, you can be certain that no visit to the Belgian capital will be uninteresting. 

In this article, you’ll discover the most engaging sights and activities to immerse yourself in when visiting Brussels.

1. Visit the Atomium

Despite what the name may suggest to some, the Atomium is, in fact, a giant representation of a molecule. The molecule in question is iron and the model is more than 160 billion times larger than the real thing. 

Naturally, the monument presents a perfect opportunity for selfies. After you’ve had a good photo session, you might decide to go inside the Atomium. Besides the exhibitions, there’s an excellent restaurant in one of the ‘atoms,’ though you should keep in mind the prices are somewhat steep.

2. Take a Walk Around the Triumphal Arch

The Triumphal Arch and the area around it are among the most rewarding spots in the city. The park is called the Cinquantenaire and it’s a gorgeous area of verdant grass with a view of the architectural wonder.

Nearby is the Belliard Tunnel, the Great Mosque of Brussels, and several museums where you can dive into thousands of artifacts that will paint you a colorful picture of history and art. 

3. Witness the Art of the Brussels Metro

Brussels boasts about 90 museums of different kinds, along with numerous galleries. However, some unique art is waiting to be found in unsuspecting locations – the Brussels metro stations being one of them. 

And there’s more than street art going on underground.

Depending on the station, you might see futuristic art, ironwork along with amazing stained glass art, and statues. And if you take the time to go around the whole network, you’ll discover over 80 authentic artworks. There are also brochures to help you navigate this city-wide exhibition.

4. Experience the Unique Nightlife

Whether you’re after an evening of dancing or more interested in a quieter night out, chances are the Brussels nightlife won’t fail your expectations. You can find plenty of bars, pubs, and clubs where you can have the best time imaginable.

Many venues have exciting events, even on workday nights, and you could come upon a live concert, happy hour, and parties under the open sky. When it comes to music choice, you could visit a club focused on techno like Fuse, a relaxed, chill-out joint such as The Flat, or be pleasantly surprised with the nightly music choice at Bonnefooi. 

Those looking for the most fun and exciting things to do in Brussels should make it a point to immerse themselves in the rich nightlife.

5. Enjoy the Exquisite Cuisine

Belgian cuisine may have yet to reach the popularity of its French counterpart, but there’s no shortage of amazing food in Brussels. 

Of course, the first association when talking about Belgian food is chocolate. If you’ve heard about and had a chance to try the delicacies of Cote d’Or, Godiva, or Marcolini, you can actually visit their very shops in Brussels.

Speaking of the staple treats of Belgian cuisine, you shouldn’t miss out on the world-famous waffles. They are sold at cafes, street stalls, and confectioneries everywhere you look. And you can’t go wrong with specialized shops such as the Waffle Factory.

If you’re up for a complete, delicious meal, Brussels is filled with incredible restaurants to explore and enjoy their dishes. 

6. Explore the City’s Many Parks

There are numerous gorgeous parks all across the city and picking just one won’t be enough. 

Inside Brussels, you’ll find the glorious Forest Park that’s situated on a hill overlooking the city’s downtown area. In Duden Park, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a piece of a forest, with many hills and valleys throughout the massive area. But if you like to be near water, Leopold Park may be up to your standards more as it has a massive pond with a plethora of birds that call it home.

Step outside the city and you’ll find even more fascinating areas, like the last remains of the Brussels swamp at Moeraske or the La Hulpe forested area that boasts a dreamlike castle. Nature is thoroughly mixed in with the urban landscape in Brussels and still presents fascinating sights.

7. Set Out on a Beer Tour

Belgium is respected worldwide for its beer, so much so the beverage is even linked to the history of Brussels. 

Unsurprisingly, there are numerous pubs that have an impressive selection of unique beers. You can even take a tour that will allow you to discover the essential points in the whole chain, from brewing to serving the drink.

Without spoiling the experience, it’s worth noting that even those not too keen on beer will enjoy the tour due to the fascinating history that makes the beverage an inseparable part of Brussels.

8. Visit the Courthouse

The Palais de Justice is possibly the most grandiose courthouse in the world. A massive building, it’s decorated with jaw-dropping artwork and you could easily mistake it for a colossal ancient Greek temple at first sight.

Finding yourself standing in front of the towering white pillars is a one-of-a-kind experience. And that impression will become even stronger once you turn to see the breathtaking view of the city from the courthouse.

9. Catch an Open-Air Movie Projection

If you come to Brussels during Summer, chances are you’ll come across one of the numerous events where movies are shown in the open. There are projections on various locations throughout the city and you should keep an eye out for events like Wolubilis, Bruxelles fait son cinéma, and Cinema en Plein air. 

Enjoy Every Hour in Brussels

Whether you love nature, art, or trying the local cuisine, the number of things to do in Brussels is overwhelming. One thing is sure – every day you spend in the Belgian capital will bring precious new experiences. 

It should come as no surprise that a single visit likely won’t suffice. You’ll probably be longing for a new vacation in Brussels from the moment you leave.

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