The historic capital of Brussels is a story of cheeky refinement. Beneath the glittering golden gilding lives a wonderful world of weird: strange monsters, urinating children, and cigar-related philosophy.
Brussels’ main square is perhaps the grandest place to see gilding, but it, too, is not without its weird. As a Krakow resident, it’s easy to scoff at its small size, but the facades and architecture are truly impressive. There isn’t a building on the square that doesn’t bear some kind of gold adornment save the hilariously named Breadhouse and City Hall, which instead boasts an impressive spire.
This adorable little nudist has been befouling the streets of Brussels since 1618. He’s often dressed up and decorated for occasions which meant that when I saw him he was wreathed for Christmas time. He even has a sister, though she’s in a secluded dead end street and behind bars.
Museums, museums, museums
A trip to Brussels would be incomplete without a visit to one of its many museums. For art, it has a collection of them at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. There you can view works of many time periods and styles. Perhaps most notable is the collection of (literally) black art by the Old Masters (or the Dutch Masters if you’re not Belgian). For things more on the figurative side of dark art, you can admire the crazy creatures of the excellently named Hieronymus Bosch. Or visit a whole museum dedicated to Belgium’s surreal-est son, Magritte.
Another option is the Cinquantenaire Museum. It’s kook starts before you even enter:
Inside you can find art and artifacts from all over the world, most beautiful, some bizarre. If you, like me, tend toward the latter category yourself, you can spend an inordinate amount of time admiring hundreds of rock samples.
Along with culture and buildings Brussels has wonderful green spaces as well. The weird depends on your opinions about the faces of statues and certain weather patterns.
Top and bottom left: Brussels Park; top right: Mont des Arts Garden; bottom right: Parc du Cinquantenaire
There is much more of both splendid and strange to enjoy in Brussels. It’s definitely beautiful, maybe a little bizarre, but certainly not boring.