Take a stroll down Brussels’ comics lane
Brussels prides itself as the capital city of the comic strip (bandes dessinée) art form.
Its Comic Book Route stretches across the city, with more than 50 massive murals featuring bandes dessinée frames from Tintin and Asterix as well as lesser-known comics such as Lucky Luke, Spirou, and Benoît Brisefer (Benedict Ironbreaker).
Many are located within its central Pentagon, but the journey to Stockel Metro Station is particularly recommended for its two breathtaking murals featuring 140 Tintin characters. The route began with a single mural in 1991 and additions are made regularly (with some murals disappearing). As it has no particular start or finish, you are free to explore.
This citywide canvas delighting young and old alike takes visitors – literally – into Brussels’ residential, less-touristy districts, providing a fascinating insight into the city’s social history, an experience enhanced greatly when walking with a guide.
This said, much enjoyment comes from stumbling accidentally upon a mural (particularly one newly-created), while bicycle and even Segway tours are also available.
Housed in an art nouveau former department store, the Belgian Comic Strip Centre tells the story of cartoons from cave paintings to comics. Children will love seeing Tintin on the Moon and being photographed in a Smurf toadstool. Onsite are more than 5,000 original drawings, objects, and re-enactments plus a global comics gift shop.
Rediscover your childhood at the Museum of the Original Figurine (MOOF) where innumerable cartoon characters come in 3D form. Find Asterix and Obelix on their chariot, the Smurfs and their village, Snowy as an Egyptian mummy, and even a mock-up of the Belvision studio, complete with film, machinery, and cinema.
Brussels hosts the annual Comic Strip Festival, which runs from September 1-3 this year. Last year’s event saw 40 publishers and 25 authors participate in signings, talks, exhibitions, and games while two parades featured balloons depicting worldwide comic strip characters and over 80 real-life vehicles from Tintin’s pages.
Text and photos Simon Fry