Moving to Brussels – where to live, what to do
Brussels offers visitors a rich cultural experience with over 85 different kinds of museums. Covering topics from art nouveau to history and comic strips to science, there is one catered to every imaginable taste.
Brussels is quickly gaining a reputation as one of Europe’s must-see destinations, with its small town charm, trendy bars and restaurants, fabulous food, great nightlife, fantastic shopping, numerous museums, and other attractions including the diverse and interesting exhibitions and festivals organized there every year.
Brussels is also becoming known as a mecca of style, art, and design. While attracting more and more big names in international fashion to its growing shopping districts, home-grown Belgian designers are rapidly gaining global notoriety. The streets of Brussels feature art and architecture created from an unmistakably Belgian point of view that cannot be replicated. This beautiful city is a center for fashion, art, and Belgian culture.
Brussels is the capital of Art Nouveau and magnificent structures throughout the capital city are recognized as “world heritage” by UNESCO. The brilliant creative works of Victor Horta, Paul Hankar, as well as those of other architects, bring pleasure to thousands of visitors who enter the private world of these opulent houses every year.
At the turn of the 19th century Brussels went through a period of unrivaled effervescence. The middle classes, merchants and artists opted to have their houses built in the style in vogue: Art Nouveau, marking the beginning of modern architecture and design.
The Austrian architect Josef Hoffman and painter Gustav Klimt, the French architect Hector Guimard all joined the Belgian architects Victor Horta en Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde, the furniture designer Serrurier-Bovy and the jeweler Philippe Wolfers to get their inspiration or produce themselves for the first time in a more liberal city.
Comic strips and Belgium is a true love story, nourished by over 70 years of eccentric, fantastic, funny and sometimes touching adventures. It would of course be impossible to retrace an exhaustive overview of the Ninth Art. Brussels represents numerous walls around the city just painted like comics. With more than 700 comic strip authors, Belgium has more comic strip artists per square kilometre than any other country in the world! It is here that the comic strip has grown from a popular medium into an art in its own right. Nowhere else comics are so strongly rooted in reality and in people’s imagination. For centuries, Belgium was the creative workshop of comic strips across Europe. Located in the heart of Brussels, in a majestic Art Nouveau building, created by Victor Horta in 1906, the Belgian Comic Strip Center opened its doors to the public on October 6th 1989. In no time this impressive museum became one of the main attractions of Brussels. Every year more than 200.000 visitors come here to explore 4.200 m² of permanent and temporary exhibitions. Housed in one of the oldest districts of Brussels, just a few steps away from Grand’Place and the Royal district, the Belgian Comic Strip Center seduces in many ways. Come and enjoy the magnificent architecture as well as the communicative pleasure of comic strips.
In Belgium, beer is more than just a frothy beverage – it is a culture. With over 450 different varieties, many Belgian beers have personalized beer glasses in which only that beer may be served. The shape of each glass enhances the flavor of the beer for which it is designed. This tradition may seem like behavior reserved for wine snobbery, but Belgians take their beer seriously – and with good reason. The country has enjoyed an unparalleled reputation for specialty beers since the Middle Ages. Connoisseurs favor Belgian beers for their variety, real flavor and character.
Belgian chocolate has been a lure for lovers, the indulgence of kings and today, everyone’s favorite sweet. The country’s reputation for chocolate began with the creation of the praline in 1912 by Jean Neuhaus, founder of the iconic Neuhaus Chocolatier. Belgian chocolates stand out from the rest because of the use of only natural products. Even in today’s technology driven world, Belgian pralines continue to be made by hand and different flavors are created by adjusting the amounts of sugar and cocoa in chocolate mixtures.
Parks and Forests
Brussels has some of the most beautiful parks in Europe. The Parc of the Cinquantenaire is one of the largest architectural and cultural complexes in Europe. The park is laid out following classical park designs – symmetrical layout of flower beds and lawns, rows of trees with thick trunks.
Providing a welcome breath of fresh air to the city, the Forest of Soignes is home to many squirrels and foxes and has a dense network of tracks and trails, horse and cycle paths as well as picnic spots and recreational areas. The forest, 80% of which is covered by row upon row of beech trees, forms a rich and verdant expanse and encompasses five natural reserves.
The Bois de la Cambre is one of the most beautiful public parks with a large variety of sights and a maze of trails that are in complete harmony with the site. It is the Belgian equivalent of Central Park in NYC. On Saturdays and Sundays, some routes are closed to cars, thus leaving the way free for cyclists, joggers, roller-skating enthusiasts, etc.
Petit Sablon Square originally a horse market, it was converted in 1890 into an elegant & charming flower garden with lavish fountains, surrounded by wrought-iron fences decorated with stone statuettes. Each figure represents a medieval trade or craft that brought prosperity to Brussels.
A seminal totem in the Brussels skyline; neither tower, nor pyramid, a little bit cubic, a little bit spherical, half-way between sculpture and architecture, a relic of the past with a determinedly futuristic look, museum and exhibition centre; the Atomium is, at once, an object, a place, a space, a Utopia and the only symbol of its kind in the world, which eludes any kind of classification. The Atomium was not intended to survive beyond the 1958 World Fair but its popularity and success soon made it a key landmark, first of Brussels then internationally.
Half a century later, the Atomium continues, for that matter, to embody those ideas of the future and universality. And, among other things through its cultural programming, it carries
on the debate begun in 1958: What kind of future do we want for tomorrow? What does happiness depend on?