Some days out are planned weeks and months in advance, some I wake up and decide that’s where we are going today, and others I make a decision in a split second. The Parlamentarium in Brussels certainly falls into the last category. I didn’t know this place existed five minutes before we were walking through the door, and I’m so glad I decided to investigate.
The Parlamentarium is a planetarium on an EU theme. It is the official visitors centre of the EU in Brussels, and it’s somewhere that I didn’t even know existed until our City Sightseeing bus stopped just yards away. The commentary explained what it was and we were interested. Then it said it was free entry, and we jumped off the bus fully expecting to be back at the bus stop ready for the next bus coming around in 30 minutes time.
Two hours later, we eventually made the short trip back to the bus stop. There is lots to see and do here and we thoroughly enjoyed our tour.
The Parlamentarium is very accessible and free entry. You can collect an information leaflet (in whichever EU approved language you speak) at the entry. You go through security, and are given a free interactive audio tour, which was very good.
The exhibition is made up of several floors (lifts are available) of interactive displays about the work of the EU, and a wonderful 360 degree cinema where you can experience being at the heart of the European Parliament. You might even spot some familiar faces virtually around you.
There are displays about the history of the EU, and the numerous projects that the EU has been involved with. We particularly liked the map room where you could wheel a TV unit over different places in Europe and find out more about the EU and its impact. We obviously headed straight over to our home region and found out lots about how the EU has helped regenerate Yorkshire and the Humber.
My 12 year old daughter was given a passport-style question and answer book and we had to answer the questions and crack the code in the book. At the end of the tour we were given a free gift for getting the code right! It was challenging and she needed my help on a few parts but it was a great way of getting children and adults alike finding out key information, and engaging with the exhibits in more depth.
It’s obvious that Brussels are proud of the part they play in the EU, and while cynics and eurosceptics might think that the Parlamentarium is bordering on propaganda, as a confirmed Europhile, I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a few new things to boot. If you’re a politics or geography geek, then it’s well worth a trip here.
Trip time – 2 – 3 hours.
Toilets, gift shop, and cafe inside.
Car parking isn’t recommended. We got there by a short two minute walk from the route of the City Sightseeing bus. Other public transport is available.
For more information visit http://www.europarl.europa.eu/visiting/en/brussels/parlamentarium