Visit Brussels: comics, Art Nouveau and urban planning

Who I am
Elia Tabuenca García
@eliatabuencagarcia
Author and references

Brussels, capital of Europe and Belgium, is an improbable and protean city. To visit Brussels is to accept and then get caught up in the game of a patchwork or even sometimes a cacophony of cultures, nationalities, architectural styles and atmospheres. In the midst of this mess, two great local passions emerge: comics and Art Nouveau. They are expressed here and there in the city, sometimes in the metro, sometimes in a museum or even on a facade. Let's go together in the footsteps of Art Nouveau and Belgian comics in Brussels!



Visit Brussels #1: an unusual town planning

Brussels escapes the norms on the urban planning and architecture side. It confuses and blurs the tracks from the outset with the famous Grand-Place, an essential tourist gateway.

Sumptuous and grandiose, this square dazzles with its Baroque decorations, its gilding and this vision of an almost excessive restoration: everything shines!!


 

The surprise effect continues while strolling through the Îlot Sacré, the district organized around the Grand-Place. One or two medieval alleys to create an illusion then... it's the chaos ! I don't understand a thing: the old rubs shoulders with the modern, the gabled facades mingle with the concrete buildings. Gothic churches coexist willy-nilly with hyper-modern buildings. In short, I lose my Latin a bit and then little by little, I get used to it and I end up having fun with it.

The proof in pictures:



 

In this unusual mix of modern and old architectures where the absurd and the refined, the functional and the decorative intermingle, three sheltered passages stand out and bring an outdated XNUMXth century note.

The Saint Hubert Royal Galleries and the Passage du Nord : an astonishing touch of Italianism in this northern city.


 

La Galerie Bortier : it houses bookshops and art galleries, thus giving Brussels a little Parisian air.

 

Visit Brussels #2: a well-hidden Art Nouveau heritage

For me, Art Nouveau is synonymous with a crazy aesthetic dominated by undulating patterns, vegetal details, wrought iron arabesques and colored windows. In Brussels, this movement took off in a very particular way thanks to exceptional industrial development and the talent of artists such as Victor Horta.

 

As an amateur, I had only one desire, to conquer the most beautiful testimonies of the “capital of Art Nouveau” without wasting too much time because I only have a weekend.

It's there that the tourism office saves my day with a great small guide including 4 proposals for Art Nouveau and Art Deco tours at the ridiculous price of €1!


Art Nouveau circuit 1: the Louise district, the Ixelles ponds and the Horta house

A walk that begins in a pleasant way on the side of the Ixelles ponds park and which then loses interest for two reasons:


  • The achievements are very scattered and the route sometimes crosses areas of little interest except for the pretty and well-to-do residential area of ​​Ixelles.
  • Most of the buildings are not open to visitors! O frustration of having to be satisfied with the facade when it is very often inside the building that Art Nouveau is expressed in all its splendor and its art of detail.

On the other hand, this circuit includes the UNESCO-listed Brussels Art Nouveau masterpiece, the personal home of genius architect Victor Horta. Please note that the house is only open to the public in the afternoon from 14 p.m. to 17:30 p.m. and we cannot take pictures of the interior.


 

Art Nouveau circuit 2: in the city center

This is the one I recommend because on the 17 crossing points, 7 can be visited !

Two brasseries allow you to immerse yourself in an Art Nouveau decor while enjoying a coffee or a Belgian beer: Le Falstaff and Le Perroquet



 


End of the century museum bonus

For fans, this museum allows you to extend the Art Nouveau decorative experience and the Belle Époque art of living through a very rich collection of photos, paintings (Lautrec, Bonnard, Vuillard...), sculpture and even furniture.

Visit Brussels #3: the homeland of comics

 

Belgium, cradle of the 9th Art gave birth to a number of comic book characters such as Tintin, Spirou, the Smurfs and Lucky Luke, to name only the best known.

In Brussels, we are very proud of this breed and we find it almost everywhere in specialized shops, in hotels, in the metro, in museums and even in the street!

Here is another nice surprise as only Brussels has the secret: to bring out the 9th art in the public space, on the walls of buildings ! It's unexpected and pretty, quite simply.

To make sure you don't miss any of these walls decorated by the most illustrious names in Belgian comics (there are nearly 50!), download the complete map of the Brussels comic strip route.


 

the BD FRESCOES of Brussels

in our photo album

 

Favorite for the Belgian Comic Strip Center:

We go there for the building, old shops signed Victor Horta and marked by a more refined Art Nouveau style and by the use of iron and glass. As for the museum itself, it returns to the basics of good quality by addressing in an educational (but not boring!) way the historical origins of comics, the creative process and the different styles (heroic-fantasy, youth, science fiction , photo-novel… there are 1000).

I left with bright eyes what I had come to look for in Brussels, the 9th Art and Art Nouveau!


 

  • Practical information:

Museum open daily from 10 a.m. to 18 p.m.
Full adult price: 10€
More info: https://www.cbbd.be/fr/accueil

All our museum visits in our section Track Culture !

Bonus delicacy from the North: the Wonderful

In terms of gastronomy, the north and Belgium hold the upper hand with well-known specialties such as fries, beer or waffles and others less known but no less appreciable such as the aptly named “Merveilleux”.
The base of this somewhat rich pastry, meringue and whipped cream, all covered according to tradition with chocolate shavings. Today the recipe is perpetuated, declined and above all can be tasted “Aux marvelous de Fred” a specialized shop that can be found in the main cities of the North and a handful of large cities in Europe (Lyon, Geneva, etc.).


Did that make your mouth water?
Find our article tips “eating, drinking, sleeping in Brussels”.

 

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