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Brussels, Belgium - Notes from an Aussie Sojourn to Europe
On a recent visit Brussels failed to deliver in satisfying my interests. Not much to see for me. The museums were disappointing. But to be fair, my few days in Brussels coincided with gaps between major exhibitions.
The hop-on, hop-off bus appeared to be simply going through the motions, with tiny maps and few stops. Most of the stops focused on shopping centers and churches.
Weirdly the buses parked for 30 minutes or more at various stops, and there appeared to be multiple buses lined up at various stops.
The last bus was at 1600 hours, which was very inconvenient. This restricted what you could do on each day.
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Overview of Three Day Trip to Brussels
Most of the art museums are centralized around the Mont des Arts near the Central Station, which is very convenient if you are interested in art.
Apparently there are about 80 museums in Brussels.
As with most European cities there is a huge contrast between the old and new and the rich and poor areas.
There are many tree lined streets and modern high rise buildings surrounding the UN commission buildings and offices in the European section.
In some ways it reminds me of Geneva and Canberra - public service towns.
Brussels seemed to lack the narrow streets that are found in the older parts of other European cities.
Though the older areas were worth visiting to get the feel for the community.
There are many cobble streets near Flagey and Louise and near the Horta Museum.
The art nouveau houses surrounding the Horta Museum were very interesting, though somewhat neglected. The lovely ironwork on the balconies is stunning.
See below for details and photos from the Horta Museum which was the highlight of my visit to Brussels.
I've seen too many Palaces and Churches to have much interest in these features, though they are undoubtedly fabulous to those who are interested.
More Photos of BrusselsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Art Nouveau - Horta in Brussels
One real gem in Brussels is the Horta Art Nouveau Museum, located in Horta's house.
It reminds me of the Gaudi houses in Barcelona.
The detail is stunning with even the door hinges and other fittings being done in the same style.
In the basement is a collection of house models and moulds which were used to create the metal pieces.
Interestingly the iron work was bolted and riveted together rather than being welded.
The museum is well worth a visit, though it is only open from 1400 to 1700 daily (groups visit in the mornings).
Victor Horta was a Belgian designer and architect who has been described as the most important European Art Nouveau architect, and one of the earliest designer to use the Art Nouveau in the area.
Four town houses by Horta in Brussels have been recognised by the UNESCO commission.
They feature an open plan design with lots of light and metal work.
They also feature decorative curved lines and stained glass. The buildings are:
Maison & Atelier Horta, 23-25 rue Américaine (now the Horta Museum)
Hôtel van Eetvelde, 2-4 avenue Palmerston;
Hôtel Tassel, 6 rue P-A Janson;
Hôtel Solvay, 224 avenue Louise;
There are many guided tours of Art Nouveau in Brussels which I did not have time to organise and book.