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The magic of Brussels

December 12, 2017 2:12 pm Published by
Brussels, the capital of Belgium and de facto capital of the European Union, is a bustling, cosmopolitan city and the political heart of Europe. With a population of approximately 1.1 million inhabitants, it has a village-like’ disposition, with residents spread across nineteen communes (similar to Parisian arrondissements or London boroughs).
As the headquarters of both the EU and NATO, an international financial centre and the primary European base for more than two thousand multinationals, Brussels might be viewed as a rather stuffy and dull destination. However, despite the staid impression, Brussels is known to be rebellious and mischievous, relaxed, fashionable and creative.

Visit

Brussels has a wealth of museums and educational tours, from Autoworld (a haven for car devotees) to the Parlamentarium—a parliamentary visitor centre, it takes on the challenge of explaining the workings of the European Parliament in a simple and sexy’ way. Design fans should make a beeline for the ADAM (Brussels Design Museum). Its permanent exhibition— Plasticarium—includes two thousand plastic objects, mixing everyday pieces, postmodern works and pop-art, in a veritable parade of all things plastic-fantastic. Contemporary architecture aficionados will doubtless enjoy the Europa building, a huge cube constructed  from 3,750 restored window frames from every EU member state. A glass lantern (with 374 LED tubes) illuminates the building at night. And no trip to Brussels is complete without a visit to the Atomium. A famous city landmark and a futuristic, sci-fi place and space, it was built originally for the 1958 Brussels World Fair.

Sleep

Sleepy heads can find respite in the fun-loving Hotel Bloom, where every guest room includes a hand-painted mural by a number of young European artists. You can even choose the room whose fresco you prefer. And with its LZF lights, including the Totem, Poppy and Agatha, Hotel Bloom’s friendly lobby is flush with handmade, wood veneer blossoms.

Explore

At this time of year, Brussels prepares for Christmas with its traditional, seasonal markets, found in Grand Place (the central square in Brussels and a UNESCO World Heritage site) and across various leafy neighbourhoods. Simply grab a hot Belgian chocolate and enjoy a stroll, as the city twinkles and sparkles with magical wonder.
The European quarter in Brussels is a must for cultural (and political) enthusiasts, with its vibrant squares, individual shops, world-renowned museums and many European institutions. And if that feels rather overwhelming, then perhaps a wander around the city’s various comic strip walls will prove more appealing—discover Tintin, Spike and Suzy, Asterix and more.

Eat and drink

Famous for its chocolate and beer, Brussels is a great destination for every sweet tooth and lover of the hoppy brew. The city is home to over two hundred breweries and 2,500 beers. In fact recognising the integral part of beer to Belgian life, in 2016 UNESCO added Belgian beer culture to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. For chocolate connoisseurs, the city is awash with walking tours, museums, discovery workshops and chocolatiers.
Like any capital city, Brussels offers a range of foodie fare. For something a little more unusual, jump on board the Tram Experience and enjoy your meal as you tour a number of the city’s sites.
Text by Gerard Mc Guickin
Facts and figures courtesy of Visit Brussels.
Pics via Pixabay. Thanks to Hotel Bloom. (Pics via @HotelBloom)

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