From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"After the war, Brussels underwent extensive modernisation and the construction of the North–South connection, linking the main railway stations in the city, was completed in 1952. Development was allowed to proceed with little regard to the aesthetics of newer buildings, and numerous architectural landmarks were demolished to make way for newer buildings that often clashed with their surroundings, giving name to the process of Brusselisation." --Sholem Stein
Brussels is the capital and largest city of Belgium and de facto the capital of the European Union (EU). It is also the largest urban area in Belgium. Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town founded by a descendant of Charlemagne to a sizeable city.
Culture and scenery
Main attractions include the Grand Place, since 1988 a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the Gothic town hall in the old centre, the St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral and the Royal Palace of Laeken with its large greenhouses. Another famous landmark is the Royal Palace.
The Atomium is a symbolic 103 meter tall structure that was built for the 1958 World's Fair. It consists of nine steel spheres connected by tubes, and forms a model of an iron crystal (specifically, a unit cell). The architect A. Waterkeyn devoted the building to science. Next to the Atomium is the Mini-Europe park with 1:25 scale maquettes of famous buildings from across Europe.
The Manneken Pis, a fountain containing a bronze sculpture of a urinating youth, is a tourist attraction and symbol of the city.
Other landmarks include the Cinquantenaire park with its triumphal arch and nearby museums, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Brussels Stock Exchange, the Palace of Justice and the buildings of EU institutions in the European Quarter.
Cultural facilities include the Brussels Theatre and the La Monnaie Theatre and opera house. There is a wide array of museums, from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts to the Museum of the Army and the Comic Museum. Brussels also has a lively music scene, with everything from opera houses and concert halls to music bars and techno clubs.
The city centre is notable for its Flemish town houses. Also particularly striking are the buildings in the Art Nouveau style by the Brussels architect Victor Horta. Some of Brussels' districts were developed during the heyday of Art Nouveau, and many buildings are in this style. Good examples include Schaerbeek, Etterbeek, Ixelles, and Saint-Gilles. Another example of Brussels Art Nouveau is the Stoclet Palace, by the Viennese architect Josef Hoffmann. The modern buildings of Espace Leopold complete the picture.
The city has had a renowned artist scene for many years. The famous Belgian surrealist René Magritte, for instance, studied in Brussels. The city was also home of Impressionist painters like Anna Boch from the Artist Group Les XX. The city is also a capital of the comic strip; some treasured Belgian characters are Tintin, Gaston Lagaffe and Marsupilami. The Belgian Comics Museum combines two artistic leitmotifs of Brussels, being a museum devoted to Belgian comic strips, housed in the former Waucquez department store, designed by Victor Horta in the Art Nouveau style.
Brussels contains over 80 museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. The museum has an extensive collection of various painters, such as the Flemish painters like Bruegel, Rogier van der Weyden, Robert Campin, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens. The Magritte Museum houses the world's largest collection of the works of the surrealist René Magritte.