How do I love Brussels? Let me count the ways

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The huge Grand-Place, the marvellous Magrittes – not to mention chocolate and Tintin. It's all a Eurostar ride away, says Harriet O'Brien


75

The price in euros for a room this Saturday at the new Aloft Brussels Schuman, which opened on 1 September. Devised to offer urban-chic looks and good value, the 147-room hotel is at Place Jean Rey, close to the European Parliament and a metro ride from Bourse station by the Grand-Place. Note, though, that accommodation charges in the EU capital fluctuate dramatically: when the Eurocracy is in town the rates are high, but at weekends prices plummet, often by 60 per cent or more. Weekday room rates at the Brussels Aloft start at €189 (prices given exclude breakfast). www.aloftbrussels.com

















68

The width, in metres, of the Grand-Place. Glittering with gilded statuary, this ornate square is, of course, the cultural heart of Brussels – and the most visited site in the city. Traditionally part of the central market area, the square took shape thanks to the city's wealthy merchants. The magnificent guildhalls they funded here date from the late 17th century. The north side is particularly glorious, variously built for the guilds of the bakers, butchers, coopers and boatmen. The central tourist office is in the elegant Hôtel de Ville on the west side. www.brusselsinternational.be









800

A conservative estimate of the quantity of suits and costumes that belong to the Mannekin Pis. Brussels' most famous sight, this small sculpture of a nude peeing boy stands near the Grand-Place on the junction of Rue de l'Etuve and Rue du Chêne. Bizarrely, he is periodically dressed up with clothes donated by his fans. His wardrobe – an Elvis outfit, a tiny Moroccan costume with fez and much, much more – is housed in the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles on the Grand-Place. Head to the second floor to see a selection of his vast collection of outfits. www.brussels.be







10

The number of trains running direct from London to Brussels during weekdays (11 at weekends). The fastest trips on Eurostar's service from London St Pancras to Brussels' Midi station take under two hours, with fares from £69 return. You can travel beyond the capital to any Belgian station for £5.50 single or £11 return. www.eurostar.com



1847

The year in which the Galeries Saint-Hubert opened. Located close to the Grand-Place, the elegant, iron-and-glass building is Europe's oldest shopping arcade. When the galleries were completed the glass ceiling, constructed by architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer, was considered a marvel of engineering – a window to the sky measuring some 200m. Designed as a genteel entertainment area, the arcade is today still home to luxury shops (the likes of Delvaux for leather goods and Mer du Nord for fashion) as well as cafes and the gilded Théâtre du Vaudeville. www.galeries-saint-hubert.com









1901

The year that the architect Victor Horta finished building his house in Brussels – complete with swirling staircase and great twirls of wrought iron. A leading innovator of Art Nouveau, Horta is renowned for the fluidity and the organic forms of his designs. Four of his buildings in the Belgian capital are now World Heritage Sites - Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van Eetvelde and his own house at 25 Rue Americaine, now preserved as a museum. www.hortamuseum.be











81

The number of years since Tintin first appeared in print. On 10 January 1929 the Brussels-based newspaper Vingtième Siecle started to publish the first of Hergé's serialised adventures of the boy reporter. Tintin, though, is by no means the only comic strip hero of the Belgian capital: Lucky Luke, Blake and Mortimer, and the Smurfs are among the host of characters subsequently created here. All this and more can be discovered and explored at Brussels' comic strip museum, the Centre Belge de la Bande, at 20 Rue des Sables, which contains a large quantity of original sketches and drawings, as well as a comic strip library and shop. www.comicscentre.net











200

A modest estimate of the number of artworks in the Musée Magritte that opened in June last year. The Surrealist René Magritte (1898-1967) attended art school in Brussels and lived in the city most of his life, his graphic paintings famously challenging the viewer's perception of art and reality. Housed in the Altenloh Hotel, part of the Museum of Modern Art complex on the Place Royale, the gallery contains a wide range of his paintings, gouaches, posters, advertising work, sculptures and films. Highlights include a paintings from his Empire of Lights and Sky Bird series. www.musee-magritte-museum.be









750

The quantity, in kilograms, of chocolate produced per day by Pierre Marcolini. The haute couturier of Belgian chocolate, Marcolini creates just a small proportion of the 172,000 tonnes of chocolate made in the country every year. His most atmospheric outlet is on pretty, cobbled Place du Grand Sablon (on the corner with Rue des Minimes). www.marcolini.be

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Day In a Page

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada