Brussels: The capital of Belgium, home to European Parliament and medieval Bruges

Brussels is home to the European Parliament (photo courtesy EC)

Brussels is home to the European Parliament (photo courtesy EC)

Combine a politics tour to Belgium’s capital and main base for the European Parliament with medieval Bruges.

A visit to the European Parliament and European Commission (EC) has to be arranged directly by the school, either through the Visitor’s Service (contact details are provided by us) or through the school’s local MEP.

A visit to Mini-Europe is highly recommended to help students understand how the EC functions. Here you can have a guided tour of all the main sites in miniature, including both current member countries and the newcomers. There is also a very active educational department providing excellent resources and an interactive exhibition called the ‘Spirit of Europe’. Mini-Europe is part of Bruparck, to the north of Brussels – other activities in this area include Atomium and the Brussels Planetarium.

It is possible to add an extra night in beautiful Bruges, approximately one hour’s drive from Brussels. Known as the ‘Venice of the North’, this is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and justifiably awarded a place on the World Heritage list by UNESCO in 2000. Wander along the winding cobbled streets, picturesque market squares and romantic canals, or visit one of the many museums to learn about its medieval history.

Mini Europe is Bruparck’s main attraction, with over 300 miniature models and sites and the only place you can have a whistle-stop tour of Europe in just a couple of hours! All the buildings have been recreated down to the smallest detail – Big Ben is four metres high and the Eiffel tower 13 metres. The gondolas in front of the Doge’s Palace welcome you to Venice and you can follow the TGV from Paris through France. Many of the beautifully crafted models are interactive, such as the eruption of Vesuvius, the fall of the Berlin Wall, bullfighting in Seville and many more, There is also an interactive course on the history of the EU called ‘Spirit of Europe’.

Atomium

The famous Atomium (photo courtesy SABAM 2009 / DJ Sharko)

The famous Atomium (photo courtesy SABAM 2009 / DJ Sharko)

Built in 1958 for the World Fair in Brussels as a glimpse of the future, the structure looks a little like a K’Nex model with a series of ‘balls’ connected by tubes. Inside, a lift takes you to the top sphere, which affords wonderful panoramic views of Brussels. On the way down (by escalator) there are a number of exhibitions documenting how the dome was constructed.

Planetarium

Planetarium de Bruxelles, also known as the Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium, is one of the largest in Europe and can accommodate up to 350 spectators. The main attraction is the dome’s screen, where the sky is identically reproduced through a special projector, built by the Carl Zeiss company. It consists of 119 cells that can project the sun, moon, planets, the Milky Way and more than 8,500 stars.

Euro Space Centre

Situated in the Belgian Ardennes, approximately one-and-a-half-hours from Brussels, this exciting venue arranges workshops, training on simulators, astronaut camps and spectacular exhibitions. Students have hands-on experience of, among other things, building and launching a micro-rocket, integration of a satellite, a multi-access rotating chair, a moonwalk chair and a space mission simulation. We can either arrange a one-day visit for groups based in Brussels or full board accommodation at the Space Centre.

Suggested Itinerary

DAY 1 Meet at the school car park and load your coach for departure to either Dover Ferry Terminal or Folkestone  Eurotunnel Terminal. After arriving in Calais, continue journey to Leuven, Belgium and check into your hotel.
DAY 2 After breakfast, board coach for departure to Brussels. Arrive at the European Parliament Building and meet the representative who will give a one-hour talk about how the Parliament is run. In the afternoon, visit the European Commission’s building ‘Van Maerlant’
DAY 3 Check out of hotel after breakfast and board coach for Mini-Europe where you will have a 90 minute guided tour. After the visit, head for Calais and your return crossing to  the UK. (There is the opportunity to add a further night in medieval Bruges if you wish)

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • Return executive coach travel
  • Return ferry or Eurotunnel crossing
  • Two or three nights hostel accommodation on a half/full board basis
  • Excursions and entrances as per itinerary
  • English speaking guides for visits where indicated
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