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Why not visit the Brussels sewers and the Sewer museum during your next excursion in Brussels. A visit of Brussels' sewerage network - led by experienced guides or ex-workers - is extraordinary, full of surprises, but above all fascinating. The sewers have become vital to our way of life, so much so that it's hard to imagine what it was like before they existed. A visit of the Sewers Museum (and a real sewer!) is therefore an amazing, unusual and thrilling experience.
Brussels' first sewerage network came into use in the 17th century, but they were very limited and a large part of the city's waste still found its way into the river Senne. The river carried waste and carrion and regularly overflowed, or dried out in the summer, leaving behind less-than-pleasant smells.
It was partially due to this, that the government in the second half of the 19th century decided to completely transform the Senne and its neighbouring streets by building great boulevards to cover the insalubrious area. Between the two world wars a second transformation: a portion of the Senne was diverted and then covered over. The sewerage network improved and grew over the years, going from 45 km in 1847 to the 350 km that we have today.
Opened in 1988, the museum used to offer guided tours with sewer staff. Tours present you with an overview of the network, a presentation of its history and the work of the people who maintain it and much more. The entrance to the museum is housed in one of the toll pavilions that used to collect taxes on goods that entered the city.