Brussels may be the political pulse of the European Union, but Belgium’s pristine capital prefers to play the role of gorgeous wallflower. Brussels’ medieval streets, resplendent architecture, centuries-old squares, handsome boulevards, and fabulous cuisine often draw favorable comparisons with Paris, albeit a more hospitable rendition.
It was in Brussels that Art Nouveau style reached its zenith. Belgian architect Victor Horta (1861-1947) found his metier as the style’s chief proponent. His former home, the Maison & Atelier Horta has been transformed into a wonderful museum dedicated to the architect’s life and work. The permanent display features Art Nouveau furniture, utensils, and art objects designed by Horta and his contemporaries, as well as documents related to his life and times.
Beer and chocolate are the country’s two most appreciated exports. Throughout the city’s ancient core, it seems as though a master chocolatier is waiting to tempt you on every corner. Belgium has been refining its brewing techniques since the Middle Ages, and it shows. There are close to 200 breweries in Belgium and the average Belgian drinks around 30 gallons of beer per year. From sun-soaked patio cafés in the summertime, to sleepy taverns and subterranean bars in the bleak midwinter, there’s a Pale Ale, a Flemish Red, a Trappist, an Abbey, or a Lambic beer for every occasion.
Brussels has turned self deprecation into a fine art. The city’s poster child, Manneken-Pis (literally, little man peeing), deserves a special mention. The petite, bronze, fountain-sculpture of a cherubic little boy urinating into the fountain’s basin was designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder in 1618.
In a city which displays a healthy deference for the absurd, the Musée Magritte Museum is a surrealist fantasy not to be missed. Housed in a 19th-century Neoclassical building, the museum unravels the eccentric life story and seminal artistic accomplishments of René Magritte through a weird and wonderful collection of objects, ranging from bowler hats to a home-made Alice in Wonderland video staring the artist himself in a leading role. The exploits of another beloved Belgian export, the Smurfs, are immortalized throughout the city. The lovable, blue-skinned troupe can be seen smurfing through the city on countless, colorful murals. The Musée Hergé is a one-of-a-kind museum that has managed to turn the comic strip into an art form. The museum’s starring protagonist is the orange-tufted Tintin, whose escapades are endowed with quasi hero status.
Airports within a 25-mile radius of Brussels:
- Brussels National Airport (BRU)
- Beauvechain Airport (EBBE)
- Deurne Airport (ANR)
Popular aircraft charters* in the Brussels area include:
- Citation Excel (super light)
- Learjet 45 XR (super light)
- Citation CJ3 (light)
- Learjet 31ER 400A (light)
- Learjet 60 XR (midsize)
- Citation III (midsize)
- Gulfstream G200 (super midsize)
- Citation Sovereign (super midsize)
*This is just a sample. Zephyr provides access to aircraft at every end of the spectrum, from luxurious VIP airliners, to ultra long range business jet, helicopters, and economical turboprops.