Not many people know about the Crossbow Guild Museum. It is hidden behind a gate on Place Royale that is normally locked. Inside this strange museum are relics of an old Brussels corporation that dates back more than 600 years.
Founded in 1380, the Grand Serment Royal et de St-Georges des Arbalétriers de Bruxelles – the Royal Grand Order of Crossbowmen of St George of Brussels – is headquartered in a series of dark vaulted cellars below the royal church on Place Royale.
This cold, hidden building with a cobbled floor was originally a complex of stables where guests staying at the grand hotels on Place Royale could leave their horses and carriages.
The dark brick rooms are filled with a rich collection of 1,500 pieces dating back several hundred years. You can admire old armour, crossbows hung from the ceiling and shiny trophies won in national competitions.
The collection also includes paintings, photographs, flags and posters. But the best thing about this place is that you get to chat to the members about their passion. They might even let you handle one of their solid wood crossbows.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.