The Bourse area of Brussels houses Grand Place, waffle shops and beers bars, but also some of the city’s best art house cinemas. Hidden within historical arcades, museums and side streets, here are four cinemas where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city or take a break from the Christmas shopping.
Brussels is home to a thriving arthouse cinema scene and some of the best movie theatres are located right in the centre between Gare Central and Grand Place. Screenings are typically cheaper than the commercial cinema complexes and often offer student discounts making it an affordable way to get through the dark winter months.
If you are not proficient in the Dutch or French language it’s advisable to pay attention to the language of the movie. Screenings are typically in the original language in which they were produced with subtitles in French and/or Dutch which can be tricky if the movie is in Russian or Japanese. If you see a movie listed as VO or OV (version originale (FR) originele versie (NL)) you might want to look for a screening with English subtitles.
Another great aspect of Brussel’s independent cinemas is that many of them are located in beautiful art deco buildings, making a visit worth in itself. The cinemas are also typically equipped with a bar or even a brasserie so you can get some fresh popcorn, digest the movie over a beer afterwards or have a coffee while waiting for a friend who’s running late.
The Cinematek is home to the Royal Belgian Film Archive that collects and preserves historical films. A dangerous place to enter for film buffs who might not get back out for a while since this place is screening multiple movies a day. They run parallel series, focusing on different filmmakers and also show classics such as Hitchcock. If you’re not the talkative type, you might be happy to learn that the Cinematek regularly screen silent movies accompanied with live piano music. Cinematek is located in Brussel’s centre for fine arts, Bozar, but also have a branch at Flagey, in the Ixelles area.
Bozar: Rue Baron Horta straat 9, – 1000 Brussels
Flagey: Place Sainte-Croix/Heilig-Kruisplein- 1050 Brussels
Walking down from Gare Central you will spot the colourful entrance of Cinema Nova in an otherwise grey street. The theatre itself has a characteristic punky esthetic with stripped-bare walls and red chairs. Run by an enthusiastic team of volunteers, Nova is as much a social venue as a cinema. Besides screenings, they arrange talks, exhibitions as well as a party every now and then in the downstairs bar. Just celebrating 20 years as Nova, the venue has housed various accupations, including a cabaret, during it’s more than 100 years of existence.
Rue d’Arenbergstraat 3 – 1000 Brussels
Brussels newest cinema is also one of the oldest. Cinema Palace is located just across from Bourse in a building from the 1880s, the location housed Brussels largest cinema of the early 20th century with 2,500 seats and impressive decor. After some unlucky mid-century remodelling the cinema closed down for many years until a group of enthusiasts, including the Dardenne brothers, made the effort to save the unique art nouveau space. Palace opened again in 2018 after 5 years of renovation and now houses a brasserie in addition to the movie halls.
Boulevard Anspachlaan, 85 – 1000 Brussels
Cinema Galeries is located within one of Brussels most impressive galleries. Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert was built as a luxurious shopping mall in the mid-19th century and has retained much of the atmosphere. While most shops within the gallery are above budget for the regular student, window shopping is free and the cinema offers a student discount. Actually, it’s in this arcade that Mr and Mrs Neuhaus invented the chocolate covered goodie today known as the praline. The cinema, built in 1939 in a mix of art déco and modernism, is listed as a historical monument and is run by the same family company that manages the Galeries.
Galerie de la Reine 26 Koninginnegalerij – 1000 Brussels
Text: Sara Johansson
Images: Sanne Moonemans and pexels.com ©