Brussels, Belgium
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Brussels Old Town

The crown jewel of Brussels’ Old Town is the Grand Palace, built as a merchants’ market in the 13th century. Wander around the cobblestone streets, see the striking Gothic town hall or people watch from a café.

Sample world-famous Belgian chocolate
Sample world-famous Belgian chocolate
Royal Palace

The Palais Royale is no longer the royal residence but it is used for state receptions and houses the offices of the current King and Queen. The original Royal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1731. It was rebuilt on the original site, then later remodelled in Louis XVl style in the 19th. century as a residence for King Leopold ll. You can see many rooms including the impressive throne room with 11 chandeliers and gilded ceilings and the most unusual Hall of Mirrors with its ceiling decorated with more than a million Thai jewel beetles that sparkle like emeralds.

Hall of Mirrors

In 2002, the artist Jan Fabre, at the invitation of the King & Queen of Belgium was invited to decorate the Hall of Mirrors. The queen wanted to bring contemporary Belgian art into the 19th century palace as the last artist to work for the palace was Auguste Rodin more than a century ago.

Jan Fabre, who sculptures, draws and produces theatre, dance and opera, decorated the principal hall with the wing cases of almost a million Asian jewel beetles. What seemed designed to shock became a work of art that provokes admiration and astonishment for its beauty and originality. Jan has used the glowing beetle carapaces to create an enormous mosaic that covers the ceiling niches of the 19th-century Mirrors. For a centrepiece he has made the beetles crawl down to cover every inch of the main chandelier.

Depending on the angle of the light, the wing cases shine in fluorescent green, turn blue and shift again to emerald green, then to ochre or to a deep, velvet moss colour. The mosaic’s texture also evolves. From some points the shells seem soft as feathers, from other spots they resemble a daunting layer of scales.


Musical Instruments Museum

This luxurious Old England style department store, opened at the end of the 19th century and since 2000 has been the home to the Musical Instruments Museum. The museum's extraordinary collection of 7000 instruments is spread over several floors of the building. Instruments range include rarities such as the viole da gamba from the Court of Brussels to the 20th century theremin, and even include an African kora! The infrared headphones enable you to hear the sound of the exhibited musical instruments all over the museum.


Sonian Forest

One of Belgium’s last woods, this forest has a rich history as a royal hunting place, which became forbidden in the 1970′s. It is now home to a wealth of wildlife.