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.