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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