The Belgians take their tradition of comic strip writing seriously, even giving it its own name, the ‘ninth art’. Their greatest artist is Hergé, creator of ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ and country’s most famous fictional detective. The unforgettable character of Tintin has left an indelible mark on Brussels and everywhere you turn, glimpses of him and his comrades light up the capital, from murals on walls and train stations, to museums, shops and even in the suites of Hotel Amigo. Delve into the story of Tintin in Brussels with this comic lover’s guide to the city.
Start where it all began in Etterbeek, a municipality of Brussels where cartoonist Hergé (real name, Georges Remi), was born. Explore the neighbourhood that raised such a talent before heading to 26 Rue Terre Neuve in Brussels to discover the surprisingly ordinary house on which Tintin’s home was based. Around the corner is La Fleur en Papier Doré, said to be Hergé’s favourite watering hole. A quiet, homely space, it’s easy to imagine him relaxing here while taking a break from writing or perhaps dreaming up fresh ideas over a pint of Belgian beer.
Dive deeper into the stories by visiting local sites that influenced Tintin’s adventures. The Place du Jeu de Balle flea market inspired the market in ‘The Secret of the Unicorn’, where Tintin found a model of the unicorn that instigated a new adventure. Elsewhere, Hergé used the Royal Palace as inspiration for ‘King Ottokar’s Sceptre’, while artefacts housed in the imposing Musée du Cinquantenaire appeared in stories including ‘Seven Crystal Balls’ and ‘Prisoners of the Sun’.
Belgians love comics so much that the capital has a whole museum dedicated to it: the Comics Art Museum. Naturally, Tintin plays a leading role at the institution, which takes visitors through 25 years of comic strip literature. A favourite for families and children, the museum has creative exhibitions dedicated to the adventurer and other famous faces like the Smurfs and Dickie, and a children’s reading room.
Tintin is also a star of MOOF – Museum of Original Figurines. A collector’s dream, this museum proudly displays a large collection of figurines of characters from Flemish and international comics. Young aspiring cartoonists can also join a workshop and watch how experts transform 2D comics into 3D cartoons.
If you have time to venture outside of the city, visit the Hergé Museum in the nearby town of Louvain-la-Neuve, a 30-minute drive from Brussels. Here, you can discover more about the life of the artist himself, as well as his famous character.
Tintin at Hotel Amigo
For the ultimate Tintin experience, book a room at Hotel Amigo. Located moments from the giant Tintin mural on Rue de L’Etuve, every room features artwork donated by Moulinsart, the Hergé Foundation, including rare prints of stories inspired by local locations such as Brussels’ flea market, La Monnaie Theatre and the Royal Palace. Hotel Amigo also gives guests a map of the city, which they can use to embark on a detective adventure of their own to discover the world of Tintin in Brussels – an exciting game for the whole family.
While myriad shops across the city sell Tintin souvenirs, one of the best is La Boutique Tintin, just off Grand Place and a stone’s throw from Hotel Amigo. An official outlet of the Tintin brand, the space contains an impressive collection of memorabilia, ranging from small figurines for children to rare collector’s items for the young-at-heart.