Culture in Brussels: raise your roommate’s cultural IQ
You’ve found the perfect roommate in Brussels with Flatninja (of course, how else right?). You’ve been living together for a couple of weeks or months now. Everything went smoothly so far. Except for one thing…
It seems your roommate is from another planet, not just another city. Seriously. He’s never even heard of Bozar, Ancienne Belgique and Horta. Time to do something about it!
How to raise the cultural IQ of your roommate? We’re happy to help you out! No boring museums here but lovely theaters, charming movie theaters and must-see Horta houses. This is culture in Brussels for dummies!
Theaters you should take your roommate to
Brussels has dozens of theaters, from very small and relatively unknown theaters to the larger and famous theaters like Beursschouwburg and Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg.
Discover the hidden (are not so hidden) gems among the Brussels theaters that are absolutely worth a visit with your roommate!
Théâtre de la place des Martyrs
Théâtre de la place des Martyrs is a beautifully renovated theater at the heart of the city of Brussels.
This theater has one hall with 366 comfortable seats from which you can enjoy a variety of classical or contemporary performances. Another small hall, L’Atelier, offers more intimacy in a scenic interior that is different each time you visit L’Atelier.
You should know however, that the performances are all in French. That doesn’t have to be a problem if you don’t speak French. See it as the perfect opportunity to practice the language!
Enjoy a drink or a snack before or after the performance in the Martyrs cafeteria and get a chance to meet the artists!
Théâtre de la place des Martyrs
Place des Martyrs 22, 1000 Brussels
La Monnaie or De Munt
Opera, dance, concerts, recitals, chamber music, … all under one (beautifully painted) roof. That’s ‘La Monnaie’ or ‘De Munt’ in Dutch.
While this certainly isn’t the smallest theater in Brussels, we absolutely had to add La Monnaie to our list. The interior is so overwhelmingly beautiful, chances are you and your roommate haven’t seen anything like this before.
La Monnaie – De Munt
Place de la Monnaie, 1000 Brussels
If your roommate is the kind of person that appreciates a fine piece of architecture, you should take him to Théâtre National. This is not an old theater like Monnaie or Martyrs but a brand new industrial-looking theater.
The Théâtre National has three halls with exceptional sound. The program is intended for a wide audience. There is room for rather intelligent and demanding performances, but also for more entertaining and emotional performances.
Boulevard Emile Jacqmain 111, 1000 Brussels
Théâtre de Poche
If you’re looking for something small, cosy and with a relaxing atmosphere, Théâtre de Poche is the place to be for you and your roommate.
Théâtre de Poche is not your everyday theatre. This theater attracts a younger crowd that is committed to socially and politically hot topics.
Poche was brought to life to make culture accessible for everyone. If you have a lower budget, this is definitely a good choice.
Théâtre de Poche
Chemin du Gymnase 1a, 1000 Brussels
Charming movie theaters
Is there anything more fun than going to the movies with your roommate in Brussels?
Not the huge UGC and Kinepolis kind of cinemas, but the smaller, independent, cosier ‘art house’ movie theaters that display movies that actually teach you something about camera angles and unforced, natural acting.
Culture in Brussels doesn’t have to be boring but can be fun too!
Cinematek is a no-nonsense, small movie theater for the no-nonsense movie buff. This movie theater is also the official ‘Royal Belgian Film Archive’ that was found in 1938.
This is certainly not a large movie theater as it has only two viewing rooms, the Ledeoux room with 117 seats and the Plateau room with no more than 29 seats.
No noisy crisp packets, annoying sipping sounds and sticky popcorn leftovers on the seats here: food and drinks are not allowed. There’s no publicity before the movie starts and the doors close when the movie starts!
Tip: buy your tickets up front. It happens that movies are completely sold out at Cinematek!
Tickets cost €4 (access to the exhibition space is included).
Baron Horta straat 9, 1000 Brussels
Since its founding in 1997, Nova Cinema became the benchmark for alternative movies. As Nova Cinema states, ‘Nova is something unconventional or simply different.
Nova Cinema screens all kinds of films such as feature films, short films and experimental films. As long as they’re non-commercial. Don’t expect too much comfort here. The unique building looks as if they’re renovating it.
A normal film ticket costs €5. Nova also hosts concerts and art exhibitions. Don’t forget to enjoy a cold beer before or after the film at the Nova Foyer-bar!
Arenbergstraat 3, 1000 Brussels
This movie theater doesn’t even have its own website. If you don’t know Actor’s Studio, you surely walk past it without noticing it.
Make sure you and your roommate have enough time to go grab a bite first in the famous Rue des Bouchers with its many cosy restaurants. Actor’s Studio is just around the corner, in the Petite Rue des Bouchers.
What to expect? Actor’s Studio screens well-chosen art house movies as well as the better commercial movie.
Petite rue des Bouchers 16, 1000 Brussels
Vendôme is slightly larger than the previous Movie theaters with five viewing rooms and obviously more movies to choose from.
This movie theater can best be described as ‘a friendly place where live art, culture, emotion, aesthetic sensibility, reflection, discovery, creation and recreation can coexist’.
This cinema is situated in Ixelles, with its young and vibrant Quartier Latin.
Chaussée de Wavre 18, 1050 Ixelles
Must-see Horta houses in Brussels
If you’ve never heard of Victor Horta (1861-1947), you were either sleeping in class or your aesthetics or art teacher was stupid. Period.
You really can’t live in Brussels without knowing Horta or at least Art Nouveau. The same goes for your roommate.
In case you do need a reminder: Victor Horta was a famous Belgian architect and one of the most important representatives of the ‘Art Nouveau’ or ‘Jugendstil’. This is culture in Brussels for people who appreciate architecture.
Horta Museum (Maison et Atelier Horta)
Horta lived and worked in a beautiful house that is now the ‘Horta Museum’. This museum is definitely a must-visit.
The major part of the interior was preserved, as well as the beautiful stained glass and wall paintings.
Tickets cost €8 for adults and €4 for students, seniors and Saint-Gilles residents.
Amerikaansestraat, 25, 1060 Sint-Gillis
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 14h00 to 17h30 (last entrances at 17h15)
There are three other important Horta houses in Brussels: Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay and Hôtel Van Eetvelde (all Unesco World Heritage).
Hôtel Tassel (1893) is a beautiful town house built for Horta’s friend Emile Tassel. It was the very first Art Nouveau house ever built.
While Hotel Tassel isn’t open to the public, you can always go take a look at the impressive façade.
Address: Paul-Emile Jansonstraat 6, 1050 Brussels
Hôtel Solvay, another town house by Victor Horta, was built a year later, in 1894. This house was built for the wealthy industrialist Armand Solvay. Group visits are possible after reservation.
Address: 224 Avenue Louise 224, 1050 Brussels
Hôtel Van Eetvelde
Hôtel Van Eetvelde was built in 1895 for the Congo Secretary-General, Edmond Van Eetvelde.
The town house isn’t open to the public either, but like with Hôtel Tassel even the façade is worth a visit and a couple of pictures.
Address: Avenue Palmerston 2-6, 1040 Brussels