5 spots to get up close to the EU in Brussels
A striking building designed by Belgian architect Philippe Samyn, used for summit meetings of EU leaders. Known locally as 'the egg in a cage', the building has an oval meeting hall surrounded by walls built from recycled window frames gathered from demolished buildings across Europe. Explore this building, where 28 EU leaders meet, by booking a visit online.
2) House of European history
The House of European History opened in 2017 in a former dental hospital on the edge of Parc Leopold. It sets out to tell the story of Europe using objects and documents from 300 European collections. The presentation is ambitious and innovative, using digital tablets with texts in all 24 EU languages. The extensive collection covers two world wars, the Cold War period and even campaign slogans from the UK in/out referendum. Entry is free.
Head to Librebook to discover the richness of European fiction, art and political thought. Founded by Antonio Parodi in 2016, this quirky corner bookshop stocks books in 30 European languages. It’s a slightly chaotic place filled with old furniture salvaged from local offices. But Parodi has turned his space into a lively cultural hub with readings, book launches and jazz sessions.
4) Berlaymont panels
Find out how the European Commission ended up in the Berlaymont building and how Brussels was transformed into the capital of Europe. The story is told in a series of information panels attached to glass screens on the south side of the iconic 1960s Berlaymont building.
5) Parc Leopold
This romantic park with steep slopes and a lakeside walk was once a 16th-century country estate. It briefly became a zoo before it was turned into a science park. Now a convenient shortcut between the European Parliament and the Berlaymont, it offers a quiet green haven where staff escape the EU bubble.
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The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Brussel's best-kept secrets.
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