December 17, 2007

Places of interests in Brussels – Part 2

Continue from here.

Designed to celebrate the half centenary of Belgium's 1830 independence, the Parc du Cinquantenaire (Golden Jubilee Park) was a work in progress from the 1870s until well into the 20th century. The most impressive structure in the extensive gardens is the triumphal arch topped by a bronze four-horse chariot sculpture, representing Brabant Raising the National Flag. The gardens are flanked by several museums. Among them are the Musée du Cinquantenaire, a vast museum of an eclectic collection of antiques, decorative arts and archaeology and the Musée Royal de l'Armée et d'Histoire Militaire (Royal Museum of the Army and Military History), one of Brussels' often forgotten museum since Belgium is not and never has been a great military power. Opposite the Musée Royal de l'Armée et d'Histoire Militaire is the Autoworld, with a display of 500 historic cars set in the hangar-like Palais Mondial. The collection starts with 1899 early motorized tricycles and moves on to a 1911 Model T Ford, a 1924 Renault, a 1938 Cadillac that was the official White House car for Roosevelt and Truman, a 1956 Cadillac used by Eisenhower and then by Kennedy during his June 1963 visit to Berlin, and more.

Parc du Cinquantenaire and the various museums in the vicinity

The European District, home to the European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Ministers, and related institutions, is a short walk away from Parc du Cinquantenaire. It encompasses 12.7 million sq. ft. of office space packed with 20,000-plus Eurocrats to back up its "capital of Europe" tag. European Union national flags billow proudly out front the X-shaped Palais de Berlaymont (Berlaymont Palace), the Commission's headquarters. On its far side, a soothing stroll through little Parc Léopold brings you to the new, European Parliament and International Conference Center complex, an ultramodern gleaming complex in white marble and tinted glass.

European District and Parc Leopold

European Parliament

(to be continued...)

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