Last updated on 18/12/2018
References to Brussels in the Adventures of Tintin
Even if Brussels is never explicitly mentioned, the city still casts its shadow in the adventures of the “Le Petit Vingtième” reporter. Hergé loved Brussels, and it is where he often found inspiration. Put yourself in Tintin’s shoes throughout the city of Brussels…
Before settling down with the Captain and Professor in Moulinsart, there are several indications that lead us to think that Tintin lived in Brussels, more precisely at number 26 Rue du Labrador. No need to pull out your map or look at Google Street View because this address comes straight out of Hergé’s imagination. Some people have made a connection with the Rue Terre-Neuve in the Marolles, right next to the flea market where Tintin bought his unicorn model to decorate his apartment… We want to believe this. To be precise: to believe this, that’s what we want!
Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
Now back to the adventures, the first of which was in soviet Russia. Tintin and Snowy were welcomed home as heroes by a crazy crowd at the North Train Station. In 1930, the year that Tintin in the Land of the Soviets was published, the North Station was located at Place Rogier. In 1952 the station was moved back a couple hundred meters.
Tintin in the Congo
For the second section of their 24 adventures, the reporter of the “Le Petit Vingtième” and his loyal companion head to the Congo. Hergé never stepped foot in this country, but he did do his research. We must say that the Royal Museum for Central Africa was a very useful tool.
The leopard-men that threaten Tintin are directly inspired by the Paul Wissaert statue displayed in Tervuren. Do not rush to the terminus of tram 44 because this museum is under renovation for the next three years.
The Broken Ear
We are staying in the realm of museums with the Broken Ear. This time we are going to the Royal Museum of Art and History at the Cinquantenaire to unearth the highly sought-after Arumbaya fetish. In addition to a broken ear, Hergé’s magical object has several differences from the original. Will you be able to find them?
Do not try to break open the real fetish to get the supposed diamond inside. Guards are watching… However, the molding shops at museums offer an affordable copy (not, of course, made with diamond).
King Ottokar’s Scepter
Brussels was a major inspiration for Hergé’s setting in King Ottokar’s Scepter. In the beginning of the book, Tintin finds Professor Alembick’s briefcase on a bench in the Royal Park. Once he discovers the palace of the King Muskar XII of Syldavia, there is no doubt: the scene looks very much like the stomping grounds of a certain Philippe of Belgium.
The Brussels references do not stop there! The Syldavian dialect is actually a phonetic version of the Marolles dialect! If, following the process of gentrification, the Marolles dialect has basically disappeared from around the Place du Jeu de Balle, Georges Remi (Hergé) kept it close to his heart. Eih bennek, eih blavek. I am here, and I am staying!
The Shooting Star
Before leaving for the Arctic along with Captain Haddock, Tintin discovers the meteorite that is heading towards Earth in Professor Phostle’s telescope. All of this is happening in Uccle, beneath the domes of the Royal Meteorological Institute.
The Secret of the Unicorn
A couple of steps from the Sablon in the middle of the Marolles district, Hergé was inspired by the flea market for the beginning of this album. This is a place to appreciate for the dynamic and typically Brussels atmosphere. It’s also a place to bargain shop for model boats that might contain a mysterious treasure map…
The scene and energy of the books were perfectly captured by Steven Spielberg in his interpretation of the Secret of the Unicorn that came out in 2011.
While we are still in the Marolles, don’t forget to look for the fresco devoted to Quick & Flupke! These two Brussels natives also came to life by the pen strokes of Georges Remi.
The Seven Crystal Balls
While flipping through the Seven Crystal Balls, you must be observant to uncover the Brussels within. We'll give you a hand.
You would have to look very closely to notice Hotel Metropole in the background on page 20. In the forefront of the scene, we see the taxi (that Rascar Capac intended for members of the Sanders-Hardiman Expedition) that is taking Mark Falconer to his grim destiny. Rascar Capac, the mummy of the Incan prince (page 31), is an evil Arumbaya fetish from the Cinquantenaire museums.
Professor Bergamot’s villa is the setting of many natural and supernatural elements in the beginning of the Seven Crystal Balls (page 28) which can also be seen on the Avenue Delleur in Watermael.
At the end of the book, there is a show in a Music-Hall reminiscent of the Théatre du Parc or the Royal Opera, La Monnaie.
The photographs of the albums are protected by the following copyright: Hergé / Moulinsart 2014
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