The French have their quatorze juillet, the Americans celebrate on the fourth of July, and on 21 July we proudly celebrate the independence of our little Belgian country. Belgium may be small, but it is no less beautiful for that. Elton John even wrote a song about his visit to our capital and Jacques Brel expressed his loss when he left for France. Today’s artists like Angèle, Damso, Pregnant Guy, Raymond van het Groenewoud and more prove how clean Brussels is through their musical talent. Besides the Grand Place, Brussels waffles and Belgian chocolate, there is much more to see and do. Rediscover diversity, culture and Belgian pride all with the help of this short guide. The icing on the cake of your visit to Brussels is a stay at Le Louise MGallery, which this year pays tribute to iconic figures who have a special connection with our capital.
Art Nouveau has been gracing the streets of Brussels since 1890 thanks to Horta, Hankar, Cauchie and Blérot. They were inspired by the organic forms of nature, to which they sometimes added a hint of Japanese inspiration. The Brussels cityscape was transformed in no time by the many beautiful facades that can still be admired today. These are well worth a visit.
One of the finest masterpieces of Art Deco architecture stands in Franklin Roosevelt Avenue: Villa Empain. A 21-year-old baron, Louis Empain, had this house designed in 1930 by the Swiss architect Michel Polak. The facades are polished granite, the villa has a large garden with an impressive swimming pool, a pergola and a gatehouse. Think of finishes in marble, bronze, cast iron and fine woods. The refined details and the harmony are the success of the impressive building.
Since 2010 it has been available to the general public and summer parties are held by the pool, you can see art exhibitions and there is even a café inside. Plan your visit here and immerse yourself in the grandeur of Brussels.
In 2000, the Tassel Hotel was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Daring arched windows, the use of visible iron structures and remarkable skylights are just some of the elements that show that this is the art deco style. The interior is just as enchanting as the exterior and surprises with a marble mosaic floor with a spiral motif, a beautiful curved staircase and an octagonal hall where the typical Japanese influences can be found. The ochre-coloured curves are painted up along the walls like ornamental plants.
The Tassel House can be visited by appointment
Address: Belgium Ixelles, Rue Paul Emile Janson, Ixelles
The Horta Museum typifies the high point of Art Nouveau in Brussels. It is housed in the architect Victor Horta’s own house and studio. The interior of the house has been largely preserved: mosaics, stained-glass windows, furniture and murals form a harmonious whole that shows subtlety down to the smallest detail. Here you can admire the architect’s personal archive, a collection of plans of his buildings and the library by appointment.
Tip: The ART NOUVEAU PASS gives discounts on art nouveau tours of your choice.
Discover also our special contribution about the architecture of Horta here: https://www.puredeluxe.be/inspirational-architects-victor-horta/
Address: Rue Américaine 27, 1060 Bruxelles
Brussels has over 150 museums exhibiting a variety of subjects.
Design Museum pays tribute to Belgian Design
Through exhibitions, guided tours, workshops, conferences and events, the museum aims to make design understandable and accessible to all.
In September 2020, theDesign Museum Brussels opened a new permanent exhibition space dedicated to Belgian design and its history. In order to question the history, the function, the diversity, the public and the artists of modern and contemporary Belgian design, BELGISCH DESIGN BELGE has been conceived as a laboratory in the form of pop-ups that follow one another chronologically.
Address: Trade Mart Brussels, Place de Belgique 1, 1020 Brussels
A not-to-be-forgotten stop during your visit to Brussels is the Strip Museum. In the Art Deco style of Horta, Cuifje en the Smurfs take you on an adventure to a world of unlimited creativity. For more than 25 years, the authors who defined the comic strip landscape in Belgium have been put in the spotlight. Numerous original plates, never-before-seen documents, 3D scenery and playful elements will keep you enthralled for at least an hour and a half.
Address: Rue des Sables 20, 1000 Bruxelles
Food and drinks
La Pharmacie Anglaise op de Koudenberg
When Mick Jagger picks this place for a cocktail before his concert in Brussels, you know you’re in the right place. With an impressive decor and an equally impressive cocktail menu, La Pharmacie Anglaise welcomes you for the perfect aperitif. Both the façade and the interior of this bar exude the grandeur of Brussels and know how to please the finicky cocktail lover to the full.
Address: Coudenberg 66, 1000 Bruxelles
Le Conteur turns every meal into a feast. Not only because of their rich and daring dishes, but also because of the atmosphere they create. Don’t be surprised if suddenly loud music plays and the waiters start dancing. When you walk in and pull the thick, velvet curtains back behind you, you forget the rest of the outside world. As you hang up your coat, the speculation begins and you find yourself in a magical Middle Eastern setting. Enjoy the glorious mix of different cultures and flavours tied to the inextricable link between folklore and food.
Address: Rue du Marché aux Poulets 32, 1000 Bruxelles
A visit to Brussels is not complete without a good beer in a typical pub. De Walvis, which borders the canal, is probably the cosiest bar in the district. The brewery of The Brussels Beer Project is open from Thursday to Saturday night for tastings. But for an authentic Brussels beer experience, you don’t have to leave the Sint-Catherine neighbourhood. Roskam, for example, has an excellent selection, and on Sunday evenings you can catch jazz concerts. The Monk and the Bar des Amis are two addresses we recommend to anyone wishing to meet the real Brussels people. Families will feel at home in the Chicago Café or Café De Markten: Rue Antoine Dansaert 209 , 1000 Bruxelles – Instagram: @cafewalvis
Roskam: Rue de Flandre 9, 1000 Bruxelles – Instagram: @roskambrussels
De Monk: Rue Sainte-Catherine 42, 1000 Bruxelles – Instagram: @monkcafe
Bar Amis: Rue Sainte-Catherine 30, 1000 Bruxelles
Chicago Café: Rue de Flandre 45, 1000 Bruxelles – Instagram: @chicagotrattoria
Café De Markten: Rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains 5, 1000 Bruxelles – Instagram: @cafedemarkten
A shopping trip is a must, and one address is enough: Dansaertstraat, the beating heart of Brussels fashion and design. Just past the Brussels Stock Exchange, right in the centre, you’ll find different boutiques offering something for everyone. Below, we explain a few of them.
From first steps in 2009 to reality in 2016, the fashion brand Arte was founded by Bertony Da Silva in Antwerp. Soon the brand became a household name in the city and since last year Arte also found its way to Brussels. They celebrated their arrival in the Belgian capital with a specially designed T-shirt that pays homage to Brussels. A mix of streetwear culture and graphic design l lie at the origin of their recognizable designs. Arte strives, and succeeds, in bringing together a community and includes interior design, music and culture in addition to fashion.
Address: Antoine Dansaertstraat 50, 1000 Brussels
Style houses quite a few Belgian fashion designers under its roof. Some of the iconic names are Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Haider Ackermann. Knowledgeable staff will help you find the piece you are looking for. After a visit to Stijl, your wardrobe will undoubtedly be an investment richer. With their variety of styles and designers, the boutique offers a wide range to choose from.
Address: Antoine Dansaert 74, 1000 Bruxelles
In addition to beautiful clothing boutiques, the iconic Dansaert Street is also home to many interior shops. Diito is one of them and was founded by two architects and an interior designer. Young designers, carefully selected brands and vintage furniture are sold and exhibited here. Besides unique furniture, you can also find home accessories, lighting and carpets. The two showrooms can be visited by appointment.
Address: Rue de l’Aurore 62, 1000 Bruxelles
Le Louise Hotel Brussels
Le Louise Hotel is this year paying tribute to the city of Brussels, its people, architecture and gardens. To honour our most beloved Brussels-born icons, guests can now indulge in a series of suites. The suites of Le Louise are unique executive rooms, specially decorated and designed to highlight the life and success of the honoured icons. Rediscover the life stories of Audrey Hepburn, Marguerite Yourcenar & Pierre Culliford (art pseudonym “Peyo”) through their first 3 Homage Suites.
The family members of the first 3 icons participated in the creation of the suites to ensure that each suite embodies the essence and personality of their loved one: personal photos, special objects and anecdotes, but also treats such as marshmallows in chocolate, a special link to the Académie Française or a creative family dinner. Discover the Homage suites here.
Address: Av. de la Toison d’Or 40, 1050 Bruxelles