Cinquantenaire Walking Tour, Brussels (Self Guided)

Cinquantenaire is a famous public park in Brussels. Planned by King Leopold in the late 19th century, Cinquantenaire hosts some of the most significant museums in Brussels, such as the Museum of Art and History, the Museum of the Army and Military History, and the Autoworld museum. There are also a number of monuments located in the park. Check out this guide to fully explore this wonderful park.
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Cinquantenaire Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Cinquantenaire Walking Tour
Guide Location: Belgium » Brussels (See other walking tours in Brussels)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
Author: audrey
1
Parc du Cinquantenaire

1) Parc du Cinquantenaire (must see)

Parc du Cinquantenaire (French for "Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary") or Jubelpark (Dutch for "Jubilee Park") is a large public, urban park in the easternmost part of the European Quarter in Brussels. It lies on a territory of 30 hectares and was created in the 19th century. The U-shaped wonderful building which dominates the symmetric park is the home for the Royal Military Museum, Museum of Aviation, Royal Museum of Arts and History, Royal Institute of Artistic Heritage and Auto World Museum. Most buildings of the U-shaped complex were commissioned by the Belgian government under the patronage of King Leopold II for the 1880 National Exhibition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Belgian independence, and successive exhibitions which place in the same area, replacing previous constructions. The present centerpiece triumphal arch was erected in 1905 replacing a previous temporary version of the arcade by Gédéon Bordiau. The structures were built in iron, glass and stone, symbolizing Belgium's economic and industrial performance. The surrounding 30-hectare park esplanade was full of picturesque gardens, ponds and waterfalls. It housed several trade fairs, exhibitions and festivals at the beginning of the century. Also here you can enjoy monuments such as the Belgian Pioneers in Congo and many others. This settled however in 1930 when it was decided that Cinquantenaire would become a leisure park.

Why You Should Visit:
A great place to relax, go for jogging, admire the views and enjoy the variety of museums.
Picnic-perfect, especially on the weekend when people watching (and dog watching) is prime.

Tip:
Make sure to enter the Royal Military Museum and take the elevator (in the gallery to your left on entry) to enjoy wonderful views over Brussels from the top of the Arch (free admission).
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Autoworld

2) Autoworld (must see)

Vintage car lovers flock to Autoworld to see the large collection of old automobiles. The museum is located in the Parc du Cinquantenaire in the southern hall. Opened in 2005, the museum’s 250 cars cover the time periods from the late 19th century to the 1970s with both European and American brands represented. Some of the more outstanding models include a 1928 Bentley, a 1930 Cord, a 1930 Bugatti and showpieces of Minerva. The museum even has a limousine that was driven by US President John F. Kennedy. The museum is separated into five different collections. The Mahy Collection is diverse with extraordinary and prestigious automobiles. These cars represent the personal collection of Ghislain Mahy. In addition to the cars shown at the Autoworld, it is rumored he has another thousand vehicles off-site. The Gallery Pierre D’Ieteren is a collection of carriages and coaches. The Thiry Marcel Collection focuses on two-wheelers. There is also an area that replicates a 1902 motor show and another that talks about the changes in the auto industry through time.

Why You Should Visit:
Outstanding permanent collection with displays being frequently re-arranged.
Special exhibitions are also rich and their scenography so unique that they are worth several visits.
For only a couple euro you can take an audio-guide that gives more information about certain cars.
The restaurant inside is top-notch and affordable, offering a wide range of Belgian beers.

Opening Hours:
(Apr-Sep) Daily: 10am-6pm; (Oct-Mar) Mon-Fri: 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-6pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Triumphal Arch

3) Triumphal Arch (must see)

The Triumphal Arch serves as the dramatic centerpiece of the Parc du Cinquantenaire. The arch was commissioned by King Leopold II in 1880 to commemorate Belgium’s independence for a national exhibition. It would also serve as a new entrance gate to the area. The funding and the construction of the arch ended up being controversial because the King wanted to spend excessive amounts of money to make something very extravagant, whereas the government was not committed to spending a lot of money. It ended up taking 25 years to resolve the funding and to construct the arch, with the King and other private donors footing the bill. The arch was completed in 1905, in time for the 75th anniversary of Belgium's independence. The top of the arch features a statue of a chariot pulled by four horses. This statue represented the Brabant province. Other provinces are depicted by statues at the foot of the columns. Each side of the arch features “galleries of the columns” which include mosaics that depict Belgium as a peace-loving nation. On each side of the arch are exposition halls that were built as a permanent replacement to the pavilions of the 1880 exposition.

Why You Should Visit:
Because the best things in life are free.

Tip:
Just head to the top of the Arch to admire Brussels' interesting panorama.
4
Cinquantenaire Museum

4) Cinquantenaire Museum (must see)

The Cinquantenaire Museum is also known as the Jubilee Park Museum. It is one of several museums that make up the Royal Museums of Art and History. Construction began in the late 19th century per the direction of King Leopold II. The focus of the museum is to educate about art and history across a wide time spectrum. The museum is divided into four collections. The collection of national archaeology dates from prehistory to 751 AD (Merovingian period). The antiquity collection covers the Near East, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Asia and the Americas are covered in the third collection, which focuses on non-European civilizations. A notable item in this collection is a large Easter Island statue. The last collection is dedicated to the European decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Works in this collection include sculptures, textiles, tapestries, costumes, glassware and more. A particularly unique part of the museum is the Museum for the Blind, which lets visually-impaired patrons discover art by touching objects. In addition to the permanent collections noted above, the museum has temporary rotating exhibits, lectures and other programs.

Why You Should Visit:
Amazing permanent collection – both historically- and art-oriented – and an outstanding rotation of temporary exhibitions.
Good restaurant with reasonable prices and a nice selection of food & drinks, and the gift shop is quite big and has something for everyone.

Tip:
Note that there is limited information in English on the displays.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Fri: 9:30am-5pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Royal Military Museum

5) Royal Military Museum (must see)

The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History (or simply the Royal Military Museum – RRM) is a museum that occupies the two northernmost halls of the historic complex in Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels. The collection originally consisted of a set of exhibits collected by an officer, Louis Leconte. Approximately 900 pieces were brought together, the collection was later heavily enriched by legacies, gifts and exchanges. Leconte was particular in choosing from equipment abandoned by the Germans in 1918 after World War I.

Today, it is possible to find uniforms, weapons, vehicles and military equipment of a number of periods and countries. The north wing, built by Gideon Bordiau, has been occupied by the aviation hall since 1972 when the Air and Space gallery was inaugurated. The collection includes various types of aircraft, both military and civilian, some dating back to the early 20th century, while the most recent additions include a F-16 Fighting Falcon and Westland Sea King.

Why You Should Visit:
Holds a surprising number of rare and unique objects; the aircraft, as well as some of the tanks and armored vehicles are not seen in any other collection.
A good reminder of how mankind has invented and spent many valuable resources on finding new and creative ways to wage war.

Tip:
Don't miss the climb to the tower and make sure you enjoy the park and surroundings.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Fri: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Great Mosque of Brussels

6) Great Mosque of Brussels

The Great Mosque of Brussels is located in the north-western corner of Cinquantenaire Park. It is the oldest mosque in Brussels, and is the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium. The original building was built by architect Ernest Van Humbeek in an Arabic style, to form the east pavilion of the National Exhibition in 1880. The pavilion housed then a monumental fresco; “Panorama of Cairo” which was a major success. However, the lack of maintenance in the twentieth century caused the building to gradually deteriorate. In 1967, at an official visit to Belgium by the King Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, King Baudouin decided to turn the building into a place of worship. The mosque, designed by the Tunisian architect Boubaker, was inaugurated in 1978. Today, it also hosts a school and an Islamic research center whose objectives are to propagate the Muslim faith. The center also provides courses of Arabic to adults and children, as well as initiations to Islam.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Temple of Human Passions

7) Temple of Human Passions

Boasting an eclectic neoclassical style of architecture, the Temple of Human Passions was built over a four-year period from 1892 to 1896. The primary purpose of the temple construction was to have a permanent location to show Jef Lambeaux’s large marble relief “Human Passions”. This work of art measures 12 meters (39 feet) by 8 meters (26 feet) and presents imagery relating to happiness, the sins of man and death. At the time of the relief’s debut, it was controversial for its depiction of uninhibited nudes engaging in all manner of activity. Additionally, the depiction of the figure of death above a crucified Christ outraged religious conservatives at the time. The temple was designed by the architect Victor Horta. There was dispute between Horta and the artist Lambeaux as to the best way to design the structure so as to enhance to large marble relief. The artist wanted to facade left open so passers-by could see the work, but the architect wanted it hidden behind a facade. In 1967, the building was given to King Faisal ibn Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia when he made an official visit to Belgium. Eventually, the government of Saudi Arabia gave the building back to Belgium.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Robert Schuman Statue

8) Robert Schuman Statue

Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (29 June 1886 – 4 September 1963) was a noted Luxembourgish born French statesman. Schuman was a Christian Democrat (M.R.P.) and an independent political thinker and activist. Twice Prime Minister of France, a reformist Minister of Finance and a Foreign Minister, he was instrumental in building post-war European and trans-Atlantic institutions and is regarded as one of the founders of the European Union, the Council of Europe and NATO. The Schuman District of Brussels (including a metro/railway station and a tunnel, as well as a square) is named in his honor. Around the square ("Schuman roundabout") can be found various European institutions, including the Berlaymont building which is the headquarters of the European Commission and has a monument to Schuman outside, as well as key European Parliament buildings. In the nearby Cinquantenaire Park, there is a bust of Schuman as a memorial to him. The bust is the starting point of the Schuman district.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Brussels, Belgium

Create Your Own Walk in Brussels

Create Your Own Walk in Brussels

Creating your own self-guided walk in Brussels is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Artists' Studios and Museums Tour

Artists' Studios and Museums Tour

Brussels is the cultural capital of Belgium and also the former home of such well-known artists as Victor Horta, Camille Lemonnier and Paul Cauchie. There are a number of famous artists' houses and museums in Brussels, which exhibit numerous Belgian masterpieces. Don't miss the chance to visit some of the most famous artists' studios and house museums in Brussels.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 km
Chocolate Shops Tour

Chocolate Shops Tour

Belgium is considered one of the best producers of chocolate. Its capital, Brussels, offers you the opportunity to taste more than 2000 different types of chocolate. There is a plethora of chocolate shops in Brussels which offer chocolates of all shapes, sizes and colors imaginable. Go ahead and take a look at Brussels most visited chocolate shops in this tour.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Marolles and Matonge Nightlife

Marolles and Matonge Nightlife

Brussels' nightlife is represented by the variety of its clubs, among which are not only out and out discotheques, but also clubs that host world-famous DJs and live music. Brussels is home to some of the most fashionable night clubs in Belgium. Take this walking tour to visit the most famous venues located in the Marolles and Matonge districts of Brussels.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Royal Sightseeing Walking Tour

Royal Sightseeing Walking Tour

The main Royal site in Brussels is the statue of Godfrey of Bouillon, which actually represents the center of the Royal Square. Also known as the Royal Place, the Royal Square is surrounded by the Royal Palace, the Royal Museums and the Royal Library. All these served as the official residence to the King of Belgium. Enjoy this two hour tour to visit the Royal places in Brussels.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Mont Des Arts Walk

Mont Des Arts Walk

Mont des Arts, meaning "hill/mount of the arts", is a historic site in the center of Brussels. The Mont des Arts offers one of Brussels' finest views, the famous tower of the Brussels Town Hall in the Grand Place is clearly visible. On a sunny day, the Koekelberg Basilica and even the Atomium can be seen.
Major tourist attractions are located within walking distance of the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
Central Nightlife Tour Part 2

Central Nightlife Tour Part 2

Brussels' nightlife is represented by the variety of its clubs, among which are not only out and out discotheques, but also clubs that host world-famous DJs and live music. Brussels has some of the most fashionable night clubs in Belgium, such as Fuse, Bazaar and Havana. Take this walking tour to visit the most famous venues located in Central Brussels, all within a pleasant walking distance.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


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It's no secret that Brussels is not all about JCVD muscles and EU headquarters. Small country as such, Belgium abounds in signature items, such as beer, chocolates and... the peeing boy. All of these have made prime Belgian souvenirs for years. Now you can explore the Brussels gift scene in...
Belgian Beer Tour of Brussels

Belgian Beer Tour of Brussels

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Brussels for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Brussels has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money getting around Brussels and visiting the city's multiple highlights, you may want to resort to the Brussels City Card.

Among other conveniences, this card allows its bearer to explore Brussels's top attractions, tours, restaurants, bars and clubs, and selected shops either completely free of charge (41 museums) or with great (up to 50%) discounts. The card provides 24-, 48-, or 72-hour passes to these locations, plus free ride on the hop-on hop-off bus and public transportation (optional) thus putting Brussels at your fingertips! Reduced rates for children and students also apply at participating venues.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Brussels hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: NH Brussels Carrefour de L’Europe, Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo, Hotel Novotel Brussels Off Grand Place.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Brussels, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close, with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, as a guided tour of Brussels typically costs from around US$20 up to US$50+ per person:

- Take a 3-hour guided walk around central Brussels to discover the city's historic locations, learn about its legendary men and women who made history, delve into the origins of Brussels, and acquaint yourself with the Belgian capital's contemporary culture and gastronomy;

- Embark on a must-see tour of real Brussels exploring the city's top attractions through the eyes of a local guide revealing a flip side of the well-known locations, plus discovering a few secret spots only the locals know about, away from the trodden tourist paths. En route, you may give yourself a treat to the authentic Belgian cuisine at a local eatery, not forgetting the world-famous Belgian chocolate, plus indulge yourself in some other local delights along the way.

- Appreciate Belgian gastronomy in its diversity – chocolate, waffles, beers, fries, and more – on the Food and Beer walking tour of Brussels offering a unique chance to savor a variety of local foods, drink local beers and unleash your sweet tooth onto the delicious local chocolate, whilst listening to a great deal of fun stories associated with each of these delights!

- Come and see what's made Belgium an international beer superpower on a 2.5-hour beer tasting tour of Brussels led by a local expert. Here, you will learn to tell a difference between the Belgian and foreign-made brews plus acquaint yourself with some of the 1,000+ craft beers made in this country.

- Pedal your way across Brussels on a 3.5-hour guided biking tour to discover the city's beauty manifested in its top landmarks, breath in the local atmosphere, plus enjoy along the way some of the best fries and beer (optional) the city has to offer.

- Explore the artistic side of Brussels on the tour following in the footsteps of renowned Belgian artists who left their mark in the field of Surrealist painting and Art Nouveau architecture. On this tour you will see some of the city's hidden gems, visit independent galleries and more, led step by step by a knowledgeable local guide.

Day Trips


If you have a half or full day to spare whilst in Brussels, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Ghent and Bruges, Antwerp, Maasmechelen, or Waterloo. For as little as US$10+ to US$100+ you will get a chance to acquaint yourself with the UNESCO World Heritage city of Ghent's medieval architecture, learn about Bruges's Viking and Middle Age history, get to see Antwerp - the hometown of Peter Paul Rubens and one of the largest harbors in the world, shop till you drop at Maasmechelen Village with over 100 international boutiques offering big-name brand clothing at reduced (down to 40%) prices, plus visit the site of one of the most significant battles in the history of Europe that saw the ultimate defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. All these trips start and end at your hotel and you'll be carried by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minivan, accompanied by an English-speaking tour guide.