Hidden Belgium: The Smurf mural

Hidden Belgium: The Smurf mural

Everyone knows the Smurfs. The little blue people (Les Schtroumphs in French) first appeared in Spirou magazine in 1958. They were invented by the Brussels illustrator Pierre Culliford during a meal with a fellow cartoonist at the Belgian coast. Unable to remember the word for salt cellar, he asked his friend to pass the Schtroumph.

The Smurfs appear on a giant ceiling mural that greets people as they leave Central Station in Brussels. You might spot Brainy Smurf, who wears glasses, Greedy Smurf, who is rarely seen without a cake, and Smurfette, who was originally the only female in the Smurf village.

The Smurfs have grown into a global brand, with books, figures, sweets, theme parks, video games and a Smurf Song. There is even a Brussels Airlines plane decorated with the Smurfs.

It makes sense that the first thing tourists see when they arrive in Brussels is a Smurf mural. Smurftastic, you might want to say.

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.

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