Things to see in Brussels

Tourist offices

BIP (Bruxelles Info Place)

Rue Royale 2, Grand-Place, Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 513 8940.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1800, Sat-Sun 1000-1800.
visitbrussels.be

Passes

The Brussels Card (www.brusselscard.be) gives free entry to over 30 museums and unlimited travel by STIB public transport for 24, 48 or 72 hours. It also offers reduced prices in selected shops, restaurants and bars. The pass is sold at BOOTIK agencies, tourist information offices, hotels and museums.

Atomium

Léopold II bequeathed the 202-hectare (500-acre) estate of Heysel to the city of Brussels in 1909, but it wasn’t until the 1958 World’s Fair that it received its most famous landmark, the Atomium, a giant model of an oxygen molecule. Following extensive renovation, including replacement of its metal 'skin', its highest sphere gives a panoramic view of the entire region.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Square de l'Atomium, Boulevard du Centenaire, Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 2 475 4775.
Website: www.atomium.be
Grand-Place

A web of narrow cobbled streets suddenly opens out into the vast Grand-Place. The asymmetrical Hôtel de Ville, built in the 15th century, dominates. Its 96m (315ft) spire is topped with a gilded copper statue of St Michael. Opposite the Town Hall is the Maison du Roi, commissioned in 1515 and faithfully rebuilt in the 1890s. Sometime pied-à-terre of the Hapsburg monarchy, the building now hosts the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles whose small collection includes tapestries and altarpieces.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Grand-Place, Brussels, Belgium
Manneken-Pis (Statue of the Pissing Boy)

This allegory of irreverence and symbol of Bruxellois self-mockery - a bronze statuette of a urinating boy. If it were not for the occupation of the young child, the sculpture might resemble an angelic putto, such as the ones decorating the facade of the nearby Bourse (Stock Exchange). Jérôme Duquesnoy cast Manneken-Pis in the 1660s, perhaps as a reference to the peasant lads of legend, who extinguished fires with their urine.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Rue de l'Etuve, Brussels, Belgium
Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat (Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate)

This delightful little museum, located in a magnificent 17th-century house on a corner of the Grand-Place, pays homage to one of Belgium's most famous products. It traces the history of chocolate from the time of the old Maya Empire, and explains the production processes involved in making the modern sweet delicacy.

Opening Times: Tue-Sun 1000-1630 (open Mon during Belgium holidays).
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Guldenhoofdstraat 9, Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 2 514 2048.
Website: www.mucc.be
Place du Grand-Sablon

Notre-Dame du Sablon dominates the Place du Grand-Sablon, the smartest square in town. Began as a humble chapel for the guild of archers, the arrival of a statue of Mary from Antwerp in 1348, dramatically increased its popularity. The building was later expanded into an impressive gothic church. The area is a major centre for antiques dealers.

Opening Times: Daily 24 hours.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Place du Grand-Sablon, Brussels, Belgium
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

This complex boasts three museums. The Musée d'Art Ancien (Museum of Ancient Art) excels in its Old Masters, with works by Rubens, Bouts and Memling. The Musée d'Art Moderne (Museum of Modern Art) has a collection of Belgian Surrealist art including works by René Magritte and Paul Delvaux. Picasso, Chagall, Henry Moore and Francis Bacon are represented too. Meanwhile, the new Musée Magritte presents a chronological examination of his work.

Opening Times: Tue-Fri 1000-1700, Sat-Sun 1000-1700 (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium); Tue-Sun 1000-1700 (Musée Magritte)
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Place Royale 1-2, Brussels, Rue de la Régence 3, 1000 Ville de Bruxelles, Belgium
Telephone: +32 2 508 3211.
Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée (Belgian Comics Strip Centre)

The history of the Belgian comic strip, including its links with silent movies and animation, is displayed throughout the airy and uplifting Grand Magasin Waucquez. Original drawings by early masters like André Franquin (who created accident-prone Gaston Lagaffe) and Hergé (who breathed life into Tintin) are complemented by modern-day cartoons, temporary exhibitions,children's library and a brasserie.

Opening Times: Daily 1000-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Rue des Sables 20, Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 2 219 1980.
Musée BELvue (BELvue Museum)

This upbeat museum is dedicated to the major periods of Belgium's history since Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815. The permanent collection is themed around the reigns of each of the country's monarchs. The building itself is located at the scene of the 1830 Belgian Revolution, which led to the establishment of an independent state.

Opening Times: Tue-Fri 0930-1700, Sat-Sun 1000-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Hôtel Bellevue, Place des Palais 7, Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 70 220 492.
Website: www.belvue.be
Musée Horta (Horta Museum)

Architect Victor Horta produced some 110 buildings, first in neo-gothic style, famously in art nouveau and latterly in sparse modernist style. Many (such as the Hôtel Solvay, Avenue Louise 224, and Hôtel Van Eetvelde at Avenue Palmerston 4) are still standing. However, the Musée Horta (the architect's former home and studio) is beautifully preserved and open to the general public.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1400-1730.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: Yes
Address: Rue Américaine 25, Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 2 543 0490.
Muséum des Sciences Naturelles (Natural Sciences Museum)

Close to the European Parliament, and containing what is claimed to be one of the finest dinosaur collections in the world, this fascinating museum additionally features a special presentation on the Arctic and Antarctic regions. There is an extensive permanent marine mammals exhibition. All forms of wildlife, extinct and extant, plus mineralogy, are represented.

Opening Times: Tues-Fri 0930-1700, Sat-Sun 1000-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Rue Vautier 29, Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 2 627 4238.
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