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10,000 visit Bourse on opening weekend

16:33 16/09/2023

Brussels’ iconic building, the Bourse, is mythical no more. It remained almost shrouded in secrecy before renovation of the giant monument of 19th century architect Léon-Pierre Suys created from 1868-1873 started three years ago.

Now, the stunning new place to be for Brussels residents and tourists, complete with rose marble Corinthian columns and incredibly high ceilings, is open.

More than 10,000 people entered its monumental entrance hall last weekend and some 500 visited the Bourse’s star attraction – Belgian Beer World.

As Brussels secretary of state for urbanism Ans Persoons told journalists at the opening press conference, the “beating heart of Brussels” is now open to everyone.

The City of Brussels, faced with criticism from urban tourism organisation ARAU that too much of a building destined for public use is being used commercially, is keen to emphasise that the Bourse is not only a beer museum.

It is also a place to be used for exhibitions, concerts, coworking, meetings or just to eat your lunch – with Brussels mayor Philippe Close saying this means local schoolchildren and their sandwiches, not only the Madame Café restaurant and rooftop brasserie.

In short, the idea is to make this symbol of Brussels dubbed by European commissioner for budget and administration Johannes Hahn as “a unique blend of beer, history and hospitality” accessible throughout the day, notably by creating a gallery with a passageway on the ground floor from the Grand-Place to the pedestrian zone.

“The aim was to create a vibrant, dynamic place, and this is what we have seen this afternoon, with much entertainment in and around the Bourse,” Belgian Brewers chief executive Krishan Maudgal explained. “The people have really reclaimed the space.”

He was proud that Belgian Beer World, built with the support of about 100 Belgian brewers, welcomed not only people from Brussels at the opening weekend, but also those from all over Belgium, “and Canadians and Americans who really wanted to be among the first to visit the centre.”

Tickets for Brussels’ newest museum – and one of the biggest at 12,500m² – cost €17 for adults and can be bought in the Bourse or online.

Brussels hopes that this attraction will entice as many visitors per year as the Atomium. It explains the history of Belgian beer, which in 2016 attained Unesco status as ‘intangible cultural heritage’, from the monasteries to the modern brewing process today.

Truly interactive, highlights include a trip to the Yeast Theatre, the chance to find out what beer is best for you via your taste in holidays or favourite dessert for example and to be served a beer by a virtual barman or woman.

Written by Liz Newmark