Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

#10 in Best Things To Do in Brussels
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium picture
elPadawan/Flickr

Key Info

Museumstraat 9

Details

Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
3.9

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

If you only have time to hit one art museum, the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts (Royal Museums of Fine Arts) should be it. The museum houses 20,000 works of art from the 15th to the 21st centuries, and it's organized into six smaller museums, including the Old Masters Museum and the Modern Museum. Walking through the halls, travelers will be able to see works from Rubens, Brueghel, Van Dyck, Magritte and many, many more.

Recent travelers report being impressed with the museum's vast collection of art. Considering the size of the collection, many suggest allotting four or more hours to not just see the works of art but to appreciate and enjoy them. Some travelers even visited twice. Others, however, found the museum to be a bit boring, cautioning future visitors not to go unless they are really into art.

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts can be found just a block or so from the Musical Instruments Museum. Museum hours vary depending on day of the week and the museum. Admission is about €8 EUR for adults and 2 EUR for children for one museum. A combination ticket that lets visitors into four of the six museums (excluding the Wiertz and Meunier museums) is 13 EUR for adults and 3 EUR for children. The museum is free to any visitors the first Wednesday of every month after 1 p.m. For more information, including hours of operation, visit the official website.

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#1 Manneken-Pis

This little boy has put Brussels on the tourist map; people travel to this city from all over the world just to catch a glimpse of him urinating. The legend behind the Manneken-Pis (which translates to little peeing man in Dutch) varies widely depending on who you ask. One popular story is of a little boy relieving himself on a witch's doorstep. Catching the boy in the act, the witch wished to punish him by turning him into stone, forcing him into that compromising position for eternity. A local, who witnessed the entire incident, ran to the boy and replaced him with a statue in the nick of time, making the boy miss the curse entirely. Another very popular story is that of a little boy stopping Brussels from meeting its demise. Enemy forces, intent on destroying Brussels, lit a small fire with the hopes it would spread and burn the city to the ground. A wandering little boy, who apparently really needed to go to the bathroom, saw the fire and put it out with his natural resources, thus saving the city. 

While the statue itself is of a child in the nude, he has been the recipient of about 800 different costumes, a tradition that began when Maximilian II Emanuel gave him a soldier's uniform in 1698. Since then Manneken-Pis has been many things, including Santa and Elvis. Those interested in learning more about Manneken-Pis should take a trip to the Museum of the City of Brussels, where more than 100 of his outfits are on display. The museum also has a digital archive of every single outfit that Manneken-Pis has worn for visitors to view.

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