A weekend in…

The cul­ture-rich sub­urbs

By now, it is prob­a­bly clear to you that Brus­sels is so much more than just its city cen­tre. As the metropoli­tan re­gion stretches over 19 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, its cul­tural life, too, blos­soms all the way to the far edges of the city. So if you want to visit a

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THE ART OF TO­MOR­ROW

Not to be con­fused with New York’s MOMA, MIMA is the Mil­le­nium Icon­o­clast Mu­seum of Art. This Wal­halla of con­tem­po­rary art fo­cusses on cul­tural prodi­gies who tran­scend artis­tic gen­res. The house ex­hibits a permanent col­lec­tion of 21st-cen­tury art and hosts two temporary ex­hi­bi­tions a year. Lo­cated in Molen­beek-Saint-Jean – a re­gion de­scribed by Don­ald Trump as ‘a hell­hole’ – MIMA is a first step to­wards a warmer, more pos­i­tive Molen­beek.

Quai du Hain­aut 41 (Molen­beek-Saint-Jean) (Comte de Flan­dre, metro 1 and 5). €9.50 (dis­counts avail­able). Open Wed­nes­day to Fri­day from 10am to 6pm and on week­ends from 11am to 7pm.

A CAR LOVERS’ PAR­ADISE

Cars are more than just a means of trans­port. To many, they are art pieces wor­thy of their own mu­seum. En­ter Au­toworld, a siz­able mecca ded­i­cated to our loyal quadri­cy­cles. In­side, you get close and per­sonal with fan­tas­tic cars from through­out the ages and dis­cover world history through the rear-view mir­ror. When at Au­toworld, make sure to stroll through the sur­round­ing Parc Cin­quan­te­naire (see page 53) as well.

Parc du Cin­quan­te­naire 11 (Et­ter­beek) (Mérode, metro 1 and 5). €14 (dis­counts avail­able). Open daily from 10am to 6pm (to 5pm on week­days from Oc­to­ber to March).

BRUS­SELS’ OWN CEN­TRE POM­PI­DOU

The brand-new mu­seum KANAL is the Bel­gian branch of Paris’ leg­endary Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou. It re­sides in a mam­moth Art Deco build­ing that used to house a Citroën garage. Its goal is to be an in­ter­na­tional cross­road of arts and cul­ture in the heart of Europe. Through ex­hi­bi­tions and per­for­mances, it brings the world to Brus­sels. It doesn’t have a permanent col­lec­tion but hosts mul­ti­ple rel­e­vant ex­hi­bi­tions ev­ery year.

Quai de Wille­broeck 6 (Yser, metro 2 and 6). Rates and open­ing hours vary across the ex­hi­bi­tions.

AT THE STA­TION

Train World tells the story of how trains changed Bel­gium and the world. Sta­tioned in the mod­ern an­nexe of the Schaer­beek train sta­tion, it dis­plays 22 lo­co­mo­tives, among which is the old­est one in con­ti­nen­tal Europe, and over 1,200 other ob­jects, in­clud­ing an orig­i­nal 19th-cen­tury rail­way bridge. Head to the mu­seum by train to com­plete your train im­mer­sion.

Place Prins­esse Elis­a­beth (Schaer­beek) (lo­cated in Schaer­beek’s train sta­tion). €12. Open Tues­day to Sun­day from 10am to 5pm.

CUL­TURE AS A WHOLE

Though sit­u­ated a bit out­side of the city, Flagey is one of the beat­ing hearts of Brus­sels’ cul­tural scene. Its Art Deco build­ing used to house NIR, Bel­gium’s first ra­dio (and later also tele­vi­sion) broad­caster. To­day, it is home to an art­house cin­ema, a con­cert hall and a meeting point and some­times func­tions as a fes­ti­val lo­ca­tion. Make sure to check out the sched­ule when in Brus­sels. It will likely con­tain mul­ti­ple great op­tions for a cul­tural night out.

Place Sainte-Croix (Ix­elles) (Flagey, tram 81 and bus 35, 59, 60 and 71). Rates and open­ing hours vary be­tween ac­tiv­i­ties.

UN­DER­NEATH THE CITY

The sewers don’t tend to be the first lo­ca­tion that springs to mind when you plan a city trip. Yet, in Brus­sels, they sure are worth your while. De­scend into the labyrinth of tun­nels, to­talling more than 1,900 kilo­me­tres, and dis­cover how a me­trop­o­lis like Brus­sels func­tions, why these sewers were paramount for the city, and how they were dug out. Don’t worry about the smell or get­ting your feet wet; the sewers that are open to the public are clean and dry, so you don’t need a spe­cial out­fit to pay this unique mu­seum a visit.

Porte d’An­der­lecht (Porte d’An­der­lecht, tram 51 and 82). €8 (dis­counts avail­able). Open Tues­day to Satur­day from 10am to 5pm.

CHO­CO­LATE-DRENCHED CUL­TURE

You can’t leave Brus­sels with­out hav­ing tasted its to-die-for cho­co­late. In the Bel­gian Cho­co­late Vil­lage, you can do so while learn­ing all about the pop­u­lar aphro­disiac. The big Art Deco build­ing that houses the mu­seum was once a cho­co­late fac­tory it­self: the Bis­cui­ter­ies Choco­la­ter­ies Vic­to­ria. Among other things, it was the birth place of the pop­u­lar Big Nuts cho­co­late bar that is now sold by cho­co­late giant Côte d’Or. The faint smell of cho­co­late still lingers through its halls, but in­stead of ma­chines, it now houses in­ter­ac­tive screens, pe­cu­liar ob­jects and even a green­house with co­coa-re­lated plants. Don’t leave be­fore you sam­ple some cho­co­late in the Belle Epoque Sa­lons and buy your­self a sou­venir in the Bou­tique.

Rue De Neck 20 (Koekel­berg) (Si­mo­nis/Elis­a­beth, metro 2 and 6). €8 (dis­counts avail­able). Open Tues­day to Fri­day from 9am to 6pm, and week­ends from 10am to 6pm.

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