Tours & Walks, Brussels
The Marollen area is getting urbanized in a way that it might inflict on its original identity. Where it used to be for years a place to avoid, it becomes more and more touristy, old houses are replaced, more fancy shops settling in. If you don’t want to miss to visit this area, I would recommend you to do it soon, bearing in mind I write this tip in 2004.
Who knows if you might find this ruin of a house opposite the public bathing house, covered up by a really nice painting?
Inventive and artistic to hide the decade behind this nice temporary artistic wall `-)
This small nursery school at Saint Ghislain street (a connecting street between Blaes straat and Hoogstraat), is designed by the Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta in 1885.
It was his first public commission.
It was finished in 1900.
Horta let himself be inspired by the principles of the “model school”, a collection of definitions created by the “Teaching Association” in 1852.
Classrooms were built around a covered and an open-air central playground.
The façade is asymmetric and consists out of different materials as wooden panels, ironwork, mouldings, mosaic and decorative elements
Walking through the Hoogstraat you will find on number 132 the small Breughel house. On the front is a small commemorate plate on which you can read the painter has lived here… but watch more careful!
The creator of this plate made Breughel really really old!
The guy was born 1524, but sure didn’t die at 1924!!!
Another famous person who was often around here was Auguste Rodin who had his atelier at number 224
Just opposite of the Art Nouveau nursery school in the Sint Gisleinstraat/ Rue Saint -hislene 19-23, you will find the huge building of Mont de piete/Berg van Barmhartigheid.
Since 1923 this place is the “Public Office of Secured Loans”. Here people who are in financial problems can bring their belongings in exchange for money. They can buy them back when the circumstances are for the better. If the time is overdue, the pieces can be sold.
You could call it Ali Baba’s cave because, unlikely what you might think, it is not only the poor looking people who come here, you can find her gold and valuable things.
My tour guide in Brussel was Norali, she got some information over ' Off the beaten areas' in town before we went through, I was pretty amazed to some new discovery.
This is like a hidden gallery, at first i was hesitated to get in, the entrance was not quite entertaining and thought that we were wrong but inside was NiCe!!
We've been looking around to this street while walking somewhere in the City from St. Catherine. While on our way, we've met a concerned women and point out the right way where this street is, It was in french languge and Norali had spoken with her while I don't undertand french.
This is the main entrance of the street, about 1 meter wide and built in 17'th century, We saw a row of small houses in both sides, absolutely no cars can enter with a tiny street like this. Quite interesting to witness a small residential area right in the heart of Brussels.
Belgium is the home of Tintin, and comic strips are hugely popular around here.
The Belgian Comic Strip Centre (20 Rue des Sables) tells the full story. There are also more than 20 large-scale cartoons adorning the walls of buildings scattered throughout the city. These are linked by a four-mile walk; the tourist office can supply a route map.
It's a very nice way to see a different part of Brussels.
On this picture you can see Quick and Flupke. You can admire them in the " Marolles " district - the very heart of old Brussels.
They looks like a statue, a robot or a dressed manequin. Sometimes they make a real show to the public, sometimes you won't notice them because they don't attemp to move, it's a kind of joke and a little show to people who pass by, then you will entend to stop and watch him/them...usually they expect some euro, some cents if you have the courage to give them, but not obligated.
Brussels architecture is as varied as Brussels peoples got influences of other countries peoples. Think of centuries of exchanges, French, Dutch influences and at lesser extent, Italian or Spanish inspirations. However, Brussels stands alone thanks to interpretations of foreign styles as well as to its resourceful architects (Art Nouveau style, COBRA members included Belgian ones).
For instance, I read that while rebuilding Brussels Grand-Place Guildhouses, circa 1695- 1700, guilds took inspiration from Italian baroque that they have to adapt to the size of Brussels. The then aim was to get those buildings in harmony with their environment, the city they are located in... As a result, different styles coexist in same place: Italian baroque and gothic for instance stuck together ... Elsewhere, Victor Horta and the likes introduced Art Nouveau that eventually spread over Europe as Roman Gothic gave up, centuries ago, its seat to Brabant Gothic ... Still, much to be seen.. Art déco and modernism moulded Palais des Beaux-Arts... as both neoclassicism and Art Nouveau, Old England building (now, Music Instruments Museum).
So take time to enjoy spring, just wander, look up in the air and discover... This way, I discovered a museum years ago, just wandering in an administration district. Turns out it was once the Art district... See my tip on Musée Charlier (must see activities)
From Ap. to Oct., a guided tour every Sunday afternoon. A tour in Dutch starts at 2pm, in French at 2.30pm. Tours in English, only for groups.
5 circuits of about 15 km, lasting 3 hours, designed to let you know about Brussels atmosphere, history & architecture.
On the menu:
*The heart of Brussels through the centuries: extraordinary history capital & visit its hidden areas.
*Treasures of Art Nouveau (Schaerbeek and the Squares). See works of architects Strauven, Horta & Jacobs.
*Treasures of Art Nouveau (Ixelles / Elsene and St Gilles). See works of architects Blérot, Horta, Hankar & Delune.
*Comic strips and cafés. Discover comic strip murals & typical cafés of central Brussels.
*Fountains and Sculptures. Jef Lambeaux & Constantin Meunier, Mannekenpis, old fountains, old quarters or modern Northern quarter, a tour full of contrasts.
4 circuits of about 25 km, lasting 4 hours, to discover Brussels, the Greenest of cities.
*The green mysteries of northern Brussels. Cycle through parks & reserves, as well as see the grotto of Notre Dame de Lourdes & the gardens of the Erasmus house.
*Castles and abbeys. The splendours of South-West Brussels – a journey back to when the abbeys were at their hey days.
*City and gardens. Visit garden-cities & villas of South-East Brussels.
*Brussels Art Déco and Modernism (1920-1940). A pleasant tour in quarters Molière & Coghen, at the Altitude Cent & through the ULB (Brussels University).
Do not worry about where to hire bicycles,
- let Provelo organize it for group hiring: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- or see:
*The cyclists' house
Rue de Londres 15 Londenstraat - 1050 Brussels (near Trône - Troon metro station & Leopold train station)
*The Bicycle Bus in le bois de la Cambre
Further info: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
and check given URL
My fave: cycling in the park just off my apartment (rather, my apartment was off the park)
If you are an individual and you understand french, you can join the theme tours organized every week end between April and December by the Chatterbus guides, sharing their passion for Brussels with just about every kind of public : tourists of course (both groups and individuals) but also business delegations, Brussels residents, schoolchildren.
Do you wish to organize a guided tour for a private party (friends, colleagues, foreign visitors etc..) ? This is possible all year round, at the time which suits you best.
Languages available include English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish & Italian.
Grey, gloomy ramshackle gables first attract tags and graffitti before harbouring illicit rubbish dumps. Paint them afresh with giant comis strip characters and they turn out to be lively sceneries full of colour and light.
Brussels is indeed the Capital of the Comics and, since 1991, 24 painted walls and some statues are there to prove it !
The Comic Strip Frescoes Road is bound to know further and consistent new developments. New frescoes are added each year to the Route on a regular basis.
A leaflet shows you exactly where the painted gables are located.
Visit also the Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art, rue des Sables 20 in 1000 Brussels
Opening hours From tuesday until sunday from 10 a.m until 6 p.m.
Central - De Brouckère - Rogier
29 - 63 - 71
Gare Centrale - Gare du Nord
So what's so special about a big clock on a big wall in a big city? Well apparently not even many of the locals get to see it especially motorists.
This time piece is set above an arch which is over a one way street. So unless drivers glance in their rear vision mirror while driving on a busy city road they wouldn't be able to see the clock... and even then the time would appear to be backwards.
A fine piece of town planning!
Belgium is a small country and that is great for travelers.
Centerally located, Brussels is the perfect place to stay while taking day trips anywhere in the country. In less than and hour--sometimes less, sometimes a bit more--much of the country can be conveniently reached by train. I traveled by car or train from Brussels to Mons, Tubize, Deist, Tienen, Lueven, Antwerpen, Brugges, Charleroi and even to Paris, France!
Tubize is just one of the wonderful examples of places I went to from Brussels. A small town southwest of Brussels, worth seeing if you want to get a glimpse of the real life in Belgium.
The Matonge district is the place where the African community of Brussels lives. It's situated on and around the Chaussée de Wavre, in the suburb Ixelles. It got its name from a market place in Kinshasa.
Go there if you want to see some colourful shops with all kinds of vegetables and fruit you never knew that existed. A little piece of Africa in Brussels.
There are some nice restaurants as well, not only African, but also quite a few Indian/Pakistani, since this is also the neighbourhood of Indian/Pakistani immigrants.
To get there take the subway and get off at Porte de Namur.