A visit to the Parlamentarium in Brussels should be compulsory! It should not only be obligatory for all citizens – especially politicians – of the European member states. Non-Europeans should visit it too! Especially with recent events in Europe, ranging from the financial and refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, Brexit to the appalling murder of Mrs Cox.
For how often are the two World Wars and their horrors mentioned, which made world leaders like Churchill, de Gaulle and others think of means to prevent these for happening again in Europe? Who knows or even cares about the dreams and ideals which lay at the creation of what has become the EU and its European Parliament? For it was nor is all about money, forgetting about all the benefits. Who reads the treaties, knows how many member states there are, bothers to find out how the European Parliament actually works?
These are just a few questions the Parlamentarium, the visitors centre of the European Parliament, tries to answer. It tells the history and story of the European Union and its Parliament right up to the present and can be visited for free.
This visitors centre can be found in the Willy Brandt building, which in turn is part of the sprawling buildings of the European Parliament in Brussels. Even before recent events, security measures were already in place. Though these have been tightened, unfriendly and unhelpful security staff – on my recent visit a female dragon – remain the exception.
The centre is modern and accessible for handicapped people. Provided you do not mind the screening of bags, belongings, yourself, you are in for a highly absorbing visit.
For a start, there are not that many visitor centres, exhibitions, museums and similar venues, which offer free audio tours and explanations in 24 languages. Moreover, much is shown in an engaging and interactive manner. This makes the museum cum visitors centre especially interesting for children and young adults.
Of course, the Parlamentarium also hosts exhibitions. Till the 18th of September 2016, “Searching for Beauty” is its current temporary exhibition. The Slovak Design Centre asked ordinary people from the various EU member states what beauty meant to them. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the result is very diverse.
In case you presume a visit to the Parlamentarium in Brussels is doable in less than an hour or so, you will be deceived. There is so much to discover and experience, it is best to dedicate a morning or afternoon to visit it.
If you really do not want to spend too much time at the visitor centre, you still need to plan your visit. For you may want to lunch or have a drink at one of the many restaurants and café’s lining the Place du Luxembourg, or saunter through the Leopold Park to nearby Place Jourdan, where you can queue for chips at one of Brussels’ best “frites kot”: Maison Antoine.