Brussels in Belgium is often considered the de facto capital of the European Union, though the EU has no official capital. Brussels hosts however, the official seats of the European Commission, Council of the European Union, and European Council and European Parliament.
After the revolution, Belgium established a very liberal constitution which attracted many eminent authors and thinkers who sought refuge.
Brussels through the years has been a “safe destination” for many who would face prosecution within their own country. Though famous for its comic books, Belgium has a rich literary history – especially during the 19th century. Just some of these literary giants include: Alexandre Dumas, Lord Byron, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Honore de Balzac, Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire and Karl Marx.
When I visit Brussels, my first stop is always to the Belgian Chocolate Village which houses one of the largest museums dedicated to chocolate! It even has a tropical greenhouse that produces the conditions for cocoa cultivation! The chocolate workshop integrated throughout the museum, allowing one to indulge in tasting many of these delicacies!
Now that my tummy is happy, I can now share with you my very favorite museums and special attractions, opened throughout the year!
Since my spouse loves vintage autos – first stop is Auto World Brussels. Prior to WWII, Belgium ranked as one of the top auto manufacturers producing some of the top brand names of the day: Minerva, FN, Imperia, Nagant, Germain, Vivinus to name a few! This museum ranks as one of the top auto museums in all the world, housing over 400 vehicles – ALL in working order! Autos are represented from the 1886 to 1970's!
Other models include: Model T Ford, Citroen 2CV, Volkswagen Beetle, Czeh Tatra and rare vehicles specially designed for celebrities and Royal Families. Have a cup of tea as your hubby indulges!
Now with our two favorite museums put aside, we can now venture onto some of the most famous and top destinations for first time visitors!
Atomium: one cannot help but see this strange structure towering over the city! Technical term – a facsimile of an iron crystal, enlarged 165 billion times! It has been an icon for visitors since it was unveiled at the 1958 Brussels World Fair! At night,
there are over 2970 lights, and I suggest you plan a dinner in the towering restaurant that remains open until 11:00 pm! City lights are breathtaking and you will enjoy your scientific tour through this world famous structure.
Since Brussels is the capital of Europe, you must visit the Parlamentarium! This is where European politics come alive as you learn the protocols of how decisions are made and the impact of these decisions on people's lives! Attractions include:
- 3D lighting structure which shows the shifting map of Europe
- Interactive virtual trip through Europe to discover each member state
- Major educational hands on instructions – purpose and results of the EU and its impact on members as well as the world.
Though there are many other terrific museums to visit – my favorites include:
Royal Museum of Army & Military History – Housing one of the largest armament collections in the world, dating pre- WWI.
Comic Book Museum – most famous and largest collection in the world
Magritte Museum (Royal Museum of Fine Arts) that trace the evolution of the famous surrealist painter Magritte. The Royal stands right in the center of Brussels and contains the multidisciplinary collection is the richest in the world , with over 200 famous works of oils on canvas, drawings, sculptures, vintage photographs and films directed by Magritte himself, the surrealist.
MuseeFin-de-Siecle: Contains Belgian artist, such as James Ensor, Khnopff, Horta as well as foreign artist: Paul Gauguin, August Rodin, Pierre Bonnard. This is my top favorite as I adore Gauguin and Rodin!
After a day or two of touring – you are ready for the biggest surprise of all that you just cannot miss! Do book yourself for a Tram Gourmet Restaurant Experience! For two hours you will be sitting on a tram in the most elegant surroundings – to be served a six or seven course meal by famous Belgian chefs! While you sip your win and enjoy your meal – you will see the magnificent tour of lights throughout the city. This truly a must do on your check list!
Visiting Brussels is a wonderful experience – to feel its importance and as we recently have seen the withdrawal from the EU of Great Britain – it is very exciting to be walking the streets in this city – for many political leaders are here, debating the new challenges of keeping the rest of the member states intact.
January 28, 2017