Lately I’m being completely chaotic. The stress of upcoming exams makes sure I’ve got a bunch of to-do lists in my head, and plannings that I change every week. Besides that I realized that I have zero structure in my blog as well. I don’t think that is going to change soon, but I’ll give it a try 😉
As you may, or may not remember, I had a ‘series’ going on about Brussels. I absolutely adore Brussels, I go there multiple times a year. I already covered The Palaces, The Center, The South , The Marollen and The René Magritte museum. On my last trip (which was also during the summer) I explored an area that was partly new to me: The European Quarters.
I took the train towards Brussels-Central, but from there it was still quite a walk to get to my starting point. So if you’re not up to it, take the subway/bus/…
As a student in International Law, I started by visiting the Parlamentarium. Brussels is an important city in Europe. Many of the European Institutions, among other international institutions, are housed here. And so is the European Parliament and Commission. The Parlamentarium is a visitor center (FREE ENTRANCE) that walks you through EU politics, and how everything works.
I must say they did quite a good job! You can take as long as you like to listen to your audio guide, read, explore… The interactive setup is nice. I also watched a 360 degrees movie, I felt like I was sitting in the Parliament. I believe audio-guides are available in all 24 EU languages. This is really the perfect way to start exploring the EU quarters! Most of the info I already knew, but for outsiders I think it could be very informative!
I had lunch just across the Leopold Park, in Living Room. A cosy little spot, where you can combine shopping your furniture with a unique bite.
Time to walk! I had an online booklet that told me more about the history of this area. The Leopold Park started of as a zoo! From foreign plants, to ice-skating ramp, to exotic animals… all sorts of curiosities could be found here. The zoo kind of got out of hand and went bankrupt, the gate is still a remembrance of the zoo.
In 1880 the park became an actual park. Shortly after, science kind of took over. The institute of anatomy, the Solvay library, a school, the institute for psychology and the museum for natural sciences found their way to the park. Today you can still see different aspects of the history of this area. The architecture of the buildings is simple yet beautiful. The park itself reminds me of English gardens.
After spending some time strolling around, I tried to find the right direction to leave the park. The little road mentioned by my online guide was kind of cute!
It lead me to the back of the European Parliament, where I got to see a surrealistic view. The little old house reminding of a pre-European time. It gets dominated by the huge modern building behind it.
I continued my path by walking down the Vautierstaat, along two museums, and beautiful authentic houses.
The museum for Natural Sciences always brings back great memories from my childhood. Dinosaurs are just fascinating. I remember that at the end we could go to work. We got brushes and had to dig up our own bones! (of course fake ones) I think this is part of why I wanted to become an archaeologist.
The second museum is the Wiertz museum. Antoine Wiertz is a painter and sculptor. He was known for dramatic subjects and horror scenes. The entrance of the museum is free! Unfortunately it was closed when I was there.
The directions of my guide weren’t that clear, I got distracted by the people, the markets, the daily life going on in a big city. I love to watch people. Not in a creepy way. But just standing still and observing. The ones who hurry, about to miss their bus, the ones like me, sitting and staring, children playing, daily conversations between a merchant and his clients. My last stop was the building of the EU Commission.
I don’t know what to think about this part of Brussels. It seems to me that the authentic city somehow got lost. Big modern buildings rule over the neighborhood. I’m glad still part of the history remains here, although you do have to look for it. I was very close to Parc du Cinquantenaire, my actual last stop of the day, before heading back home.
The Triumph Arch was built to celebrate Belgium’s 50th anniversary. Their is a lovely park around it along with a couple of museums. In the arts museum are often interesting exhibitions!
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