BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – This is not just the capital of the European Union and Belgium, it’s also the fun capital of Europe.
And that’s thanks mainly to the city’s cartoon culture.
You can’t miss it. It’s larger than life and on full display on the exteriors of some 50 buildings located in the city’s historic Lower Town.
Tintin, the Smurfs, Lucky Luke and Blake and Mortimer are just some of the famous characters brought to life by Belgium’s renowned cartoon strip artists and who have now found their way onto the sides of buildings in Brussels.
The grouping also makes up one of the city’s most interesting tours – the Strip Cartoon Trail, which leads you past the 50 murals and right to the front door of the Centre for Cartoon Strips, where the inventories of some 650 professional comic artists – the largest in the world – are offered.
There’s also a museum devoted to comic strip works – The Belgian Comic Strip Centre , which covers 4,000 square metres and displays thousands of original scripts, cartoon memorabilia, models and animations.
Brussels also hosts the annual nine-day Cartoon and Film Festival, where strip cartoonists from around the world show off their playful creations.
Above: Even street art is based on Brussel's comic culture.
One of the most fascinating places in Brussels regarding strip cartoons is The Raymond Leblanc Centre, located in the legendary “Tintin Building” near the city’s main rail station. This is where cartoonists rub shoulders and compare their creations. The building is named after the man who agreed to print the first Tintin cartoon strip, which came from the mind of Belgium’s legendary Georges Prosper Remi, better known by the pen name, Herge.
Belgium’s current crop of creative cartoonists is responsible for painting the building murals and their masterful creations usually reflects something about the district or the building on which they are painted.
For more information about Brussels’ Strip Cartoon Trail, go to visitbelgium.com
About the Author
Marc Atchison is a veteran journalist and a seasoned traveller with more than 20 years of travel writing experience. As the former Travel Editor of the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper, and now Editor-in-Chief and Senior Writer for TraveLife magazine (Canada) and travelife.ca, Marc has been to over 100 countries in the world. Japan is one of his favorite destinations and he's been there on numerous occasions.