Growing up, one thing I learned is that Belgium is famous for is its chocolate! Did you know that in 1912, Jean Neuhaus invented the praline? Many brands such as Godiva, Wittamer and Neuhaus started in Brussels. Following the invention of the praline, the Belgian chocolate industry became world-famous. Beyond chocolate, Belgium offers its people and tourists multiple endless opportunities to sight-see, relax and soak in its culture.
In this edition of the Explore series, I will be a playing the role of a virtual tourist (due to the current COVID-19 situation) and share 5 places I would love to visit if I went to Brussels, Belgium.
1. La Grand-Place
Did you know that La Grand-Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? This site has been able to preserve its integrity and authenticity over the past three centuries even after the reconstruction, following its bombing in 1695. You can still observe Gothic and Baroque characteristics of the place.
2. Autoworld Museum
Source: Collectors Car World
I started admiring cars because of my dad. An avid car enthusiast, he would comment on the horsepower, sleekness, colour and the personality of the design whenever he sees an attractive car on the road.
In the Autoworld Museum, time travel and view over 400 automobiles mainly from Europe and the United States which date all the way back to 1886. One vintage model that I would love to see is in real life the Corvette Stingray! In addition to vintage cars, Autoworld Brussels is also home to some of the coolest and latest supercars in the world. One model housed in this museum which looks really stylish and dynamic is the 2017 Italdesign Zerouno. Absolutely incredible!
Source: Autoworld Brussels
In addition to La Grand-Place and Autoworld is the iconic Atomium. The Atomium is a unique structure initially built with the purpose to encourage peaceful use of atomistic energy back at Expo 58 during the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958. The Atomium remains admired by the international community.
Even the interior of the Atomium looks like it came out from a science-fiction book.
I can’t wait to make a trip there and take pictures of this amazing building!
4. Musical Instruments Museum (MIM)
Source: Brussels Museums
In addition to La Grand-Place, Autoworld and the Atomium, we have a musical museum. The original creation of the Brussels Musical Instruments Museum dates from 1 February 1877. Within this museum lies an Atelier.
This Atelier provides a conducive and inclusive environment where children, students, the disabled and the deaf can access. By interacting with the musical instruments in the Atelier, they can learn about their constituent materials, the vibrations given out and create sound.
With 4 galleries housing various types of instruments spanning across bagpipes to African slit drums to pianos, step into the world of music and discover some of the thousands of instruments within this museum!
Since young, I have loved listening to music. I grew up listening to instrumental and orchestral music to fall asleep or to work with. Moreover, I admired drummers and pianists a lot.
Besides trying out the instruments in the Atelier, I’m also excited to view the museum’s collection of electronic and electrical instruments! One interesting thing about me is that bass-boosted music was an accidental discovery in my Junior College days, and I’ve been in love with the way bass music sounded since then.
5. Choco-Story Museum
Source: Visit Brussels
Remember how I mentioned that Brussels is home to some of the most famous chocolate brands in the world? There is a chocolate museum too!
In this chocolate museum, see how cocoa beans are made into chocolates and have a chocolate-y journey as you try some of their chocolates! You could also engage in some arts and crafts and watch how the expert chocolatiers do it. Click here to watch a video of a tour in the Chocolate Museum.
As a chocolate lover, when I visit the chocolate museum, I am going to try some of their chocolates and watch how chocolates are made.
The best part is this chocolate museum is just 230m away from La Grand-Place!
One interesting discovery I made while becoming a virtual tourist for a day is that Belgium is home to a number of co-operatives too. The pharmaceutical co-operatives are established in Belgium. According to the International Health Co-operative Organisation, the Office des Pharmacies Coopératives de Belgique (OPHACO) manages 15 co-operatives which altogether make up 616 co-operative pharmacies in Belgium.
Moreover, there is a co-operative that engages in Fairtrade and which offers coffee and chocolate to the public. Meet Revolver World. Not only does it support Fairtrade and make its purchases from local co-operatives, it does not use genetically modified crops and palm oil11! Also, in 2019, Revolver Cooperative partnered with Callebaut to launch a new product in the chocolate and beverages market – luxury Belgian Drinking Chocolate!
Want to walk on cobblestones, relax and go museum hopping? Brussels is an amazing place to go to! Even I can’t wait to visit Brussels in person!
This article is brought to you by Denise Ong. Denise is a first-year undergraduate in NUS Business School. She is currently interning with SNCF as a Marketing Intern. She is experimenting with designing on Canva and Photoshop, and enjoys playing volleyball in her free time.