A weekend in…

The heart of Europe

If the Euro­pean Union is what brings you to Brus­sels, you can­not miss vis­it­ing the glass for­est that is the Leopold Quar­ter and the Squares Dis­trict. To­gether, they form the so-called Euro­pean Dis­trict. Here, all the leg­endary Euro­pean ad­min­is­tra­tion buil

- City Guides · Arts · Travel · European Union · European Parliament · Strasbourg · France · European Council · Council of Europe · Laos · T. Rex · Cinquantenaire · Leopold II · Democratic Republic of Congo · Tervuren


The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Brus­sels is one of two Euro­pean Par­lia­ments, as the other one can be found in Stras­bourg, France. The Brus­sels seat is in­tended for par­lia­men­tar­ian com­mis­sions, whereas Stras­bourg is the set­ting of the monthly ple­nary meet­ings. To un­der­stand what the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment does for you, you can pay a visit to the Par­la­men­tar­ium – the enor­mous vis­i­tor cen­tre of the par­lia­ment. This in­ter­ac­tive mu­seum can be ex­plored in all 24 of­fi­cial Euro­pean lan­guages and speaks to all ages and de­mo­graph­ics.

Rue Wiertz 60 (Trône, metro 2 and 6). Free ad­mis­sion to Par­la­men­tar­ium. Open from 9am to 6pm on week­days (ex­cept Mon­days, when it opens at 1pm) and from 10am to 6pm on week­ends.

3,750 WIN­DOWS

The Eu­ropa Build­ing is the new­est giant in the Euro­pean quar­ter. It has been in use since 2016 and houses the Euro­pean Council and the Council of Europe. Its façade is con­structed with 3,750 an­tique oak win­dows from all 28 mem­ber states of the Union. In­side, you’ll find a giant, egg-shaped con­struc­tion, which lights up at night, shin­ing its light through the many win­dows. More than any­thing, this build­ing re­flects the trans­parency of the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the en­light­en­ment of the Euro­pean val­ues.

Rue de la Loi 147 (Shu­man, metro 1 and 5). Free ad­mis­sion to vis­i­tor cen­tre as well as the weekly tours. The vis­i­tor cen­tre is open on week­days from 10.30am to 4pm (or un­til 1pm through­out Au­gust). Free tours are avail­able ev­ery Fri­day at 8am (online reg­is­tra­tion re­quired). Free, pri­vate tours can be booked for groups of 20 peo­ple or more if re­quested at least three months in ad­vance.


The Berlaymont Build­ing is the king of the Euro­pean dis­trict, in terms of both size and im­por­tance. It is the home of the Euro­pean Com­mi­sion; the or­gan that makes the most im­por­tant de­ci­sions. Yet, it is its 240,000 square me­tres of floor space, spread over 18 gi­gan­tic floors, that make it stand out from the crowd. Be­sides of­fices for 3,000 ‘euro­crats’ and con­fer­ence rooms aplenty, the build­ing houses a tele­vi­sion stu­dio, a garage for 1,100 cars, a cafe­te­ria that seats 900, a Nordic sauna, and more cof­fee cor­ners than mod­ern cal­cu­lus ac­counts for.

Rue de la Loi 200 (Shu­man, metro 1 and 5). Free pri­vate tours avail­able for groups of be­tween 15 and 150 peo­ple, if booked at least ten weeks in ad­vance.


The history of Europe of course goes back way longer than that of the Union alone. In the fan­tas­tic House of Euro­pean History, you can ex­plore it all in a wildly in­ter­ac­tive ex­hi­bi­tion. Armed with a tablet, you can re­live the last 2,000 years in one of the city’s state-of-the-art cul­tural tem­ples, which is not on most tourist maps. History freaks bet­ter go early, be­cause, when done right, a visit to this fas­ci­nat­ing house can keep you oc­cu­pied for half a day and more.

Rue Bel­liard 135 (Trône, metro 2 and 6). Free ad­mis­sion. Open from 1pm to 9pm on Mon­day, from 9am to 6pm on other week­days, and from 10am to 6pm on week­ends.


The Mu­seum for Nat­u­ral Sciences is a must-see for fam­i­lies with kids. A walk through its halls brings you eye to eye with nu­mer­ous dis­tinct an­i­mals and our an­ces­tors. Yet, the crown jew­els of the mu­seum are the di­nosaur skele­tons. The mighty Tyran­nosaurus Rex in par­tic­u­lar will trans­port you straight to Jurassic Park. The re­cently-re­vealed Al­losaurus Arkhane is also worth your while, as it is the only skele­ton of its kind in the world.

Rue Vau­tier 29 (Trône, metro 2 and 6). €7 (dis­counts avail­able). Open from 9.30am to 5pm from Tues­day to Fri­day and from 10am to 6pm on week­ends.

Amidst the sea of glass, Parc Cin­quan­te­naire adds a wel­come touch of green­ery to the Euro­pean Dis­trict. The park was built as a pres­tige project of King Leopold II, the in­fa­mous monarch who adorned the coun­try with pre­cious art and ar­chi­tec­ture that he fi­nanced through slav­ery in his per­sonal colony: Congo (see page 59). Most prom­i­nent in the park is the big arch­way from which the Bel­gian ‘tri­colour’ waves. In its gi­gan­tic aux­il­iary build­ings on the side, you’ll find the Art & History Mu­seum, the Royal Mu­seum of the Armed Forces and Mil­i­tary History and Au­toworld (see page 60). But more than a cul­tural cen­tre, Parc Cin­quan­te­naire is the ideal spot for ‘euro­crats’ and busi­ness peo­ple to pic­nic, re­lax or sun­bathe be­tween world-chang­ing meet­ings.

En­trance near Rue de la Loi 240 and Av­enue de Tervuren 1 (Shu­man, metro 1 and 5). The park is open 24/7. Art & History Mu­seum: €10 (dis­counts avail­able); open from 9.30am to 5pm from Tues­day to Sun­day (from 10am on week­ends). Royal Mu­seum of the Armed Forces and Mil­i­tary History: €10 (dis­counts avail­able, card pay­ments only); open from 9am to 5pm from Tues­day to Sun­day. Au­toworld: €14 (dis­counts avail­able); open daily from 10am to 6 pm (to 5pm on week­days from Oc­to­ber to March).

 ??  ?? Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.
Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.
 ??  ?? Berlaymont Build­ing.
Berlaymont Build­ing.
 ??  ?? Eu­ropa Build­ing.
Eu­ropa Build­ing.
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? House of Euro­pean History.
House of Euro­pean History.
 ??  ?? Parc Cin­quan­te­naire.
Parc Cin­quan­te­naire.
 ??  ?? Mu­seum for Nat­u­ral Sciences.
Mu­seum for Nat­u­ral Sciences.
 ??  ?? Mu­seum for Nat­u­ral Sciences.
Mu­seum for Nat­u­ral Sciences.

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