Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is known for its fries, waffles and chocolates. However, besides the tasty treats, the city is also absolutely artistic and creative. Keep your eyes peeled as you walk the streets and see the comics displayed on the walls. Keep your ears open as you walk around Grand-Place and listen to the beautiful music during summer and winter. Brussels is not just about food but rather expressing yourself through creative means and this is why it is the home of sights such as the Belgian Comic Strip Center and the Musical Instruments Museum.
Fantastic comics for all ages at the Belgian Comic Strip Center
The Belgian Comic Strip Center is not only special because of its rich collection of comics but also because it is located within the enchanting Art Nouveau building, which was designed by the famous architect, Victor Horta, in 1905. The building originally served as a textiles warehouse to Charles Waucquez but after his death, the building became run-down and was even scheduled for demolition. However, it was saved and restored by a group of comic artists and subsequently became the home of comics in Belgium.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center was opened in 1989 and includes a number of exhibitions, including interactive ones, such as films on how comics are made. The Belgian Comic Strip Center has to be one of the most informative and fun museums which I have visited across Europe and I would most certainly recommend that you visit it.
I do not believe that the Belgian Comic Strip Center is geared for a certain age range or audience but rather, I feel that it is the type of place where you can learn independently or with your friends or family members. You can learn about what a comic truly is; the history of comics and their evolution and the different types of comics. For adults, it is a fantastic place where you can relive your childhood whilst learning so much more. All the exhibits are explained in French, Dutch and English; although some of the cartoons are understandably not in English. There is no restriction on photography and you will notice a number of people taking pictures of some of the comics that make them chuckle; I am most certainly guilty of doing that!
The Belgian Comic Strip Center consists of three floors and includes a variety of permanent exhibitions such as the Smurfs, Tintin and Boerke. There are also temporary exhibitions that are housed there for varying periods of time. As the Belgian Comic Strip Center will make you smile, feel positive and creative, I would suggest putting aside a minimum of 3 hours to enjoy the experience there. However, do make sure that you save some time to check out the gift shop which has some wonderful postcards and comics that you can purchase as a souvenir.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center is open daily from 10.00am-6.00pm. The entrance fee for adults is 10 EUR (approximately 11 USD). I would recommend visiting it early in the morning when it opens as it gets quite busy quickly.
A visit to the Musical Instruments Museum sounds beautiful
Similarly to the Belgian Comic Strip Center, the Musical Instruments Museum is based within a beautiful Art Nouveau building. The building was designed by Paul Saintenoy and built in 1899. The museum, which was made open to the public in 2000, has a collection of over 8,000 instruments from all over the world and there is a brilliant section on recorders. Recorders are famous in Brussels because Belgium was famous for making them in the 18th and 19th century.
The Musical Instruments Museum provides a highly entertaining experience. At the point of paying the entrance fee, you will be provided with an audio guide which you can use whilst experiencing the museum. The audio guide is quite high-tech and every time you stand in front of a certain instrument that is on display, the audio guide will play you a short example of the sounds that the instrument makes. It is a wonderful opportunity to listen to different instruments during one sitting.
Whilst you need to stand in front of the instruments for the audio guide to start playing, you can subsequently take a seat in one of the few seats around the exhibit. This is helpful when the audio sound that is being played is part of a longer composition which lasts more than 5 minutes. Please note, however, that there are approximately three or four seats on every floor of the museum and therefore, you will be spending most of your time standing. With so many great instruments and sounds, I would have liked the opportunity to sit down more often and truly appreciate the art that has been carved out or painted onto the instruments as well as to hear the sounds. It should also be noted that the place-cards next to the instruments are in French and Dutch, and only occasionally in English.
I would recommend putting aside a minimum of 3 hours to enjoy the plenitude of musical instruments, from the ancient times till the present day, that are housed in this exquisite establishment. My favourite exhibitions were the piano, violin and sax and jazz sections and I would urge you to see them too.
From Tuesday-Friday, the Musical Instruments Museum is open from 9.30am-5.00pm and from 10.00am-5.00pm on weekends and holidays. The entrance fee for adults is 8 EUR (approximately 9 USD). I would recommend visiting it early in the morning or late afternoon as it’s least busy during these periods.
Sensational views whilst dining at a roof-top restaurant
Although food is not your objective here, you will no doubt get a little bit hungry with all of this creativity. I would recommend munching in the roof-top restaurant of the Musical Instruments Museum. Whilst the restaurant is quite a small space in comparison to all the other floors, there is a beautiful terrace which you can enjoy in the summer.
The quality of the food is good and the pricing is on par with other cafes and restaurants of its calibre. The cost for a two-course meal with drinks is around 15-20 EUR (approximately 16-21 USD) per person. The cuisine offered is European and the portions are quite large and filling. However, if you’re a vegetarian, there are limited options available but the waiting staff are quite helpful and will try and see if the chef can rustle something up for you.
You should visit the restaurant because the views from it are simply sensational. You can see so much of Brussels whilst enjoying your meal in a comfortable and relaxing environment. The restaurant is open during the same times as the Musical Instruments Museum.
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Brussels offers so much more than just food
If you want to be inspired and want to use all of your senses, then a creative few days in Brussels should definitely be on the top of your list. You can experience so much culture and fun whilst wandering around the narrow cobbled streets and also whilst you’re learning through the beautiful museums that are housed in fabulous buildings. Whilst you should, of course, enjoy the fries, waffles and chocolates, please don’t forget that Brussels is a very creative city and the comics and musical instruments are one way in which you can enjoy it.
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