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Brussels in 6 pop culture places

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Discover Brussels through six major pop culture locations. From Dikkenek to Tintin, via Stromae or Maigret.
Reality/Fiction Brussels

Place Poelaert – Dikkenek by Olivier Van Hoofstadt (2006)

The Poelaert square in Brussels by Jean Housen (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Poelaert square in Brussels by Jean Housen (CC BY-SA 3.0)

“Oh, Mom? Claudy speaking, I just got carjacked!” Totally distraught, Claudy Focan (François Damiens) calls his mother from a phone booth located on the Place Poelaert after having his car stolen.

In fact, the booth in question has long since been removed, but the place has not changed. Serving as a forecourt for the Palace of Justice, this esplanade overlooks the old town of Brussels and bears the name of its architect, Joseph Poelaert, who died during the construction. The Brussels expression “Dikkenek” means “big mouth”, “know-it-all” or “big neck”. François Damiens was revealed to the general public thanks to this cult film.

Address : Place Poelaert, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Royal Library of Belgium – Zone Blanche (France 2, 2017)

The Royal Library of Belgium and the equestrian statue of King Albert I by Alfred Courtens (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The Royal Library of Belgium and the equestrian statue of King Albert I by Alfred Courtens (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Laurène Weiss (Suliane Brahim) investigates in Villefranche, a remote village, about several murders, each one more mysterious than the other. In this respect, she regularly goes through the Brussels Courthouse.

The producers of the series installed their cameras in the Royal Library of Belgium located in the capital to shoot the scenes of the Palace of Justice. Opened in 1839, the Albertine houses 150 km of shelving spread over 17 floors. Approximately five million books and several hundred thousand documents are stored there, some of them very old. The White Zone is greatly inspired by the Twin Peaks series.

Address : Boulevard de l’Empereur 4, 1000 Brussels

Station Louise – Formidable by Stromae (2013)

Streetcar stop Louise in Brussels
Streetcar Louise stop in Brussels – Photo Wikimedia Commons by Harilevente

In May 2013, some mysterious videos appeared on the internet. The spectators discover Stromae, interpreter of the song Alors on danse, in the street, wandering and drunk. He then unveiled the video clip of his new single Formidable, a few days later.

The short film was an instant hit with over 273 million views on YouTube. This piece dealing with a love breakup takes place in Brussels and more particularly in front of the Louise tramway station. Commissioned in 1985, it is located near the courthouse.

Address: Louise streetcar station, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Tintin’s apartment – The broken ear (1937)

Rue de Terre-Neuve, 26 - Tintin's apartment
Rue de Terre-Neuve, 26 – Photo Wikimedia Commons by Jmh2o

Fans of Tintin’s adventures have often searched for the apartment of the reporter with the blond puff. They had to wait for the release of the album The broken ear to finally discover this place. His home is located at 26 rue du Labrador.

This address does exist in the commune of Laeken. However, Hergé’s drawings do not correspond to this place. In Tintin in Tibet, the doubts are lifted because a letter of Tchang is well addressed to 26 rue du Labrador in Brussels.

However, in the Belgian capital, there is no rue du Labrador. However, a Newfoundland street exists. The address is reminiscent of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, of the breeds of canines, but above all of the home of Hergé’s grandmother, to which he regularly went. In homage to this mythical address, the Hergé Museum of Louvain-la-Neuve is located at 26 rue du Labrador.

Address : Rue Terre-Neuve 261000 Brussels, Belgium

Palace Hotel – Maigret’s New Investigations: Death Penalty by Georges Simenon (1936)

Palace Hotel - DoubleTree Hilton Brussels by EmDee ( CC-BY-SA-4.0)
Palace Hotel – DoubleTree Hilton Brussels by EmDee ( CC-BY-SA-4.0)

“Maigret would leave his door open, walk down behind the couple to the restaurant, walk behind them along the stalls of the Rue Neuve, enter the same brasserie, always obstinate and calm in appearance.”

The French commissioner Jules Maigret is in the middle of a shadowing operation. He suspects Jehan d’Oulmont of having killed his uncle in a Parisian hotel. The suspect then went to Brussels and stayed at the Palace Hotel, closely followed by the famous sleuth. Georges Simenon did not choose this place, now DoubleTree by Hilton, by chance. During his escapades in the capital, he would sometimes go down to the establishment, fascinated by the luxury it embodied.

Address : DoubleTree by Hilton Brussels City, Rue Gineste 3, 1210 Brussels

Brussels City Hall – Age of Empire II: Definitive edition (Forgotten Empires / Xbox Game Studios – 2019)

Brussels City Hall by Savant-fou ( CC-BY-SA-3.0)
Brussels City Hall by Savant-fou ( CC-BY-SA-3.0)

For the re-release of Age of Empire II, Forgotten Empires studio has added additional content to the original edition. We find the Lords of the West extension, inspired by the former Burgundy region, the empire including a large part of medieval Belgium, with a nod to the city hall of Brussels.

The construction of this building in Gothic and classical style dates back to the 15th century. The various facades of the building are decorated with gargoyles in human, animal or fantastic creature form. The original edition of Age of Empire II had no version on Xbox and it was only twenty years later with the remaster that the game finally arrived on the console.

Address : La Meuse et l’Escaut, Grand Place, 1000 Brussels

The Fantrippers Buying Board

Map BRUSSELS of the 100 cult places [French Edition]

Brussels as you’ve never seen it before. Except through the legendary heroes and heroines of pop culture! Get off the beaten track and discover the capital of Europe through your favorite movies, series, music, comics, novels and video games!

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By Damien Canteau

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Passionné par l'Histoire, les animés, les Arts et la bande dessinée en particulier, Damien est le rédacteur en chef du site spécialisé dans le 9e art, Comixtrip.

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