Brussels IH Tour Day 1

TBH I am running out of places I really want to go and see and in the absence of something of amazing IH interest, I am more likely to hop on a plane across the Atlantic (notwithstanding the recent political changes there) as I am almost guaranteed better weather and they speak English. Having said that, I have never been to Belgium, until today and will be here until Friday.

After a red eye flight from Dublin, the first port of call was to the sewer museum. I am sure that many have regarded a lot of my comments as being in the sewer and I have been accused of having a potty mouth on more than one occasion. Today I visited a museum dedicated to the subject.

The museum is located in two adjacent buildings which were originally city toll houses.* Unfortunately, the museum developers saw fit to have the displays in French and Flemish only, but the museum is interesting nonetheless with a range of artifacts, plans and photographs of the sewerage network in Brussels. There is also a dry sewer culvert that you can walk through and, down another level in the museum, a live sewer that can also be experienced.

The closest I got the the latter was the entrance, from where the stench was overpowering. I would have walked the length of sewer open to the public but there has been a lot of rain in Brussels recently and the level of the sewer had just started to overflow onto the walkway so this part of the tour was out.

The Brussels sewer also had a railway of sorts (now I am interested). Whilst I couldn’t determine what the purpose of the contraption involved was for, it looks like it may have been to declog the sewer walls/floor but effectively ran on flanged wheels guided along the top of the sewer channel (see below).

Sewer Railway Vehicle
Sewer Railway Vehicle

After this experience, I headed off to the nearby “La Fonderie” (Museum of Industry). I couldn’t determine if this was open or closed – its website stated open at 12:00 but there was no obvious controlled access. I wandered into the site which could only be described as akin to an open air scrapyard of historic machinery, as if some poor soul decided to dump it all in prime real estate in Brussels and call it a museum.

Museum of Industry
Museum of Industry

As I am in Brussels and staying nearby, I paid a visit to the Mannekin Pis and rather like the Giant’s Causeway, expectation and reality are somewhat different – it is very small. It was also dressed up in a red cape and baseball hat with extra large peak. When I arrived at the Mannekin, there was a group of English tourists dress in similar style – not that I am saying that this group decided to adopt the Mannekin Pis as one of their own!

Mannekin Pis
Mannekin Pis

I have been told by a friend that there is a more recent, female counterpart, which I will try to locate tomorrow.

* These were not uncommon features in cities historically – they were used to levy a toll for local use on goods coming into the city. Dublin had such a toll house at Stephen’s Green for traffic coming in along Leeson Street.