Art in Brussels
The Manneken-Pis is Brussels’ quirky, iconic, and also slightly awkward city mascot. He’s everywhere. Literally everywhere. People send costumes for him from all over the world and as you can see, the Hard Rock Cafes’ outfit was gracing the Manneken during our time in Brussels. The Manneken-Pis is fairly close to La Grand-Place, and it’s fun to explore the area around it. Although the streets are touristy to the extreme, it’s still fun to see all the beer and chocolate shops (interspersed with Manneken-Pis everything).
Royal Museums of Fine Arts & Museum Tour
There is SO MUCH here. You need two days because it’s really overwhelming otherwise. This ‘Royal Museum’ is actually three museums. It’s best to just pay for a combo ticket (€ 13) if you’re going to be there one day or pay for the Ancient Art and Modern Art Museums together on day 1 (€8) and the Magritte Museum by itself on day 2 (€8). You need the audio guides for all the museums (about €4). You can find the website link here. Typically, the Magritte makes you reserve a time to see the museum so plan accordingly. The Museum of Ancient Art has several Brueghels (Brueghel the Elder and Brueghel the Younger and less famous) as well as several Rubens. The Museum of Modern Art has several amazing Gauguins and a couple of Seurats. This museum holds several world-renowned pieces you can only see here, and its worth the trip just for those Brueghels. Side note- the gift shop here at the museum is probably my favorite one in all of Europe.
After you see the museums, check out the Place Royal (Koningsplein) and the surrounding area- specifically, the Parc de Bruxelles. It was commissioned by Maria Theresa of Austria and is a great way to stretch your legs and relax in between sights. Past the Palais Royale (not the same as the Place Royal, this is the actual residence of the king) there is a Sculpture Garden that although not amazing, is probably worth a walk-through. Frankly, just walking through the Upper and Lower parts of Brussels is an art show all in itself.
The MOOF Museum (Museum of Original Figurines) is 1300 square meters of original comic strips and figurines. We never went past the entrance (and actually stumbled into it by accident, although the giant Smurf statue outside should’ve been our first clue) but we heard that for comic book lovers, it’s a dream come true. It’s not our thing, but if you’re interested, their website is found here, but please be aware that it’s only in French and Dutch. Google translate typically automatically translates pages in a foreign language for you, but for whatever reason this page doesn’t seem to have that option.