Latest posts by Zsófia Albert (see all)
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- Comic Strip Mural Walk – a Different Way to Explore Brussels - May 18, 2016
Have you been to the Grand Place already? Taken selfies with the Manneken Pis? Are you bored of the Atomium? Well, Brussels has much more to offer than beer and waffles, and the above mentioned well-known sights. Let’s bet I can show you something new in the lovely capital of Belgium! If you’re into comics, streetart and/or you prefer to explore a city on foot, keep on reading, this tour is just for you!
Apparently, Belgians are very famous by their comic culture. It’s enough to mention some of the most popular Belgian comics like Tintin, Lucky Luke, Marsupilami or the Smurfs… everyone knows them, right?
In a country divided by linguistic lines, with Dutch speaking Flanders and French speaking Wallonia (and the smaller German speaking east cantons), comics were a great unifier; a popular kind of art that could be enjoyed by everybody. But what are these cartoon heroes doing on the walls of Brussels’ buildings?
It all started in 1991, when the local authorities of Brussels and the Belgian Comic Strip Center joined forces and initiated a project, intending to embellish empty walls and gables of buildings in the city. Later it became a great opportunity to remember all the well-known comic artists around the world, who were linked to Belgium’s capital. Today the city has nearly 50 mural paintings about comic heroes immortalized in giant format, most of them located in the city center.
How and where to start the tour?
Apparently, almost anywhere. As I’ve mentioned, the city center is full with these lovely murals so it’s pretty easy to stumble upon them even by accident. But if you wanna visit them all and in a more organized way, just buy a Comic Strip map in one of the VisitBrussels Offices (BIP – Rue Royale 2-4; Town Hall at the Grand Place; or at the Gare du Midi train station) or check out the shorter and less informative, but free version here.
Follow the route, get lost in the little streets, breathe in the atmosphere and fall in love with Brussels like I did! The walk itself takes only a few hours and in my opinion it’s a perfect way to explore the less touristy areas of the city too.
The Adventures of Tintin (2005)
Where: Rue de l’Étuve 33
If you start your tour from the Grand Place, walking towards the Manneken Pis, the first mural you see will be Hergé’s famous hero, Tintin with his friends, captain Haddock and Milou. The Tintin series was one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, published in more than 70 languages with sales of more than 200 million copies.
Olivier Rameau (1997)
Where: Rue du Chêne 9
The next colorful, festive mural is close to the Manneken Pis and showing us the comic heroe Olivier Rameau with his love, Colombe Tiredaile.
Ric Hochet (1994)
Where: Rue du Bon Secours 9
My personal favorite is about Ric Hochet, who is a newspaper reporter and an amateur detective, climbing out of the window, and Commissaire Bourdon with his dog. Too bad some people couldn’t resist and damaged the lower half of the mural with their own kind of “art”.
The Adventures of Nero (1995)
Artist: Marc Sleen
Where: Place Saint-Géry
Nero (the character chasing birds on the top) is regarded as one of the Big Three of Flemish comics. The series debuted in the newspapers in 1947 and became very popular for its satirical content, with references to politicians and celebrities of the day. Marc Sleen drew “The Adventures of Nero” singlehandedly from 1947 to 1992 without any assistance of other artists, which is pretty impressive in my opinion.
Artist: Frank Pé
Where: Rue du Marché au Charbon / Rue des Teinturiers
This was one of the first comic murals after the government initiated the project in the early ’90s. It’s located behind the Grand Place and portraying Broussaille with his girlfriend, Catherine.
Le Passage (1995)
Artist: Francois Schuiten
Where: Rue du Marché au Charbon 17
L’Ange de Sambre (1998)
Where: Rue des Chartreux 19
Where: Rue de Flandre 109
This mural features Dupa’s cartoon heroe, Cubitus, a large, white, anthropomorphic dog, who lives in the suburbs with his master, Sémaphore, a retired sailor. Take a closer look, and you’ll find some similarities with the Manneken Pis!
Spike and Suzy (1995)
Artist: Willy Vandersteen
Where: Rue de Laeken 116
The Spike and Suzy comics revolve around the adventures of two children, along with their friends and family. The strip was first published in 1945 and still runs daily in the Belgian newspaper De Standaard. Notice the Manneken Pis reference again!
These are the comic murals I’ve explored during my short visit in Brussels, but there are a lot more waiting for you to discover! Have you seen any of them already? Would you do the comic mural walk? Let us know in a comment below or share your own story!
All photo copyrights © 2016 Zsófia Albert