La délégation bruxelloise pose devant la fresque.
On the corner of Avenida de Bruselas and Calle de Villafranca, inauguration of the fresco by Brussels artist Jaune, funded by Brussels International.

Brussels Days 2023: a seduction operation in Madrid and Barcelona

The Brussels-Capital Region set out to conquer Spain during the 17th Brussels Days. On the agenda: exchanges on fintech, sustainable construction, women entrepreneurship, tourism, heritage, and culture.

Brussels International,, and organise the Brussels Days in a different city every year. The aim of the Brussels Days is to strengthen the position of the Brussels-Capital Region (BCR) on the international stage and to provide visibility for a delegation of Brussels players from various fields. This event promotes the economic dynamism and tourism potential of the region, and highlights its talents, know-how and art of living.

The Brussels Days 2023 took place in Spain from 18 to 22 September 2023. The Brussels Region delegation was led by Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the BCR, and Ans Persoons, Brussels State Secretary for international relations and foreign trade. They were accompanied by tourism and culture representatives, as well as companies active in areas such as fintech and sustainable construction.

This was the second time that the Brussels Days were organised in Spain since their creation, with events taking place in Madrid and Barcelona.

Street art: from Brussels to Madrid

In Madrid, the delegation inaugurated a mural by Brussels street artist Jaune, whose work features cleaners in funny situations.

This piece is a gift from the Brussels Region to the Spanish capital. It adorns a wall kindly provided by the Spanish trade union UGT (Unión General de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores), on the corner of Avenida de Bruselas, a very apt location. It features bistros and façades typical of Brussels and Madrid, brought to life by Madrid cleaners who relax, climb buildings, and have fun… while the dirt accumulates.

Colourful fresco depicting façades and cleaners
On the corner of Avenida de Bruselas and Calle de Villafranca, inauguration of the fresco by Brussels artist Jaune, funded by Brussels International.

Discussions on the economy, tourism, and digitisation

After the inauguration, the delegation headed to political meetings on tourism, digitisation, and the economy. organised several exchange sessions between Belgian and Spanish women on female entrepreneurship, and hosted a workshop on tourism. Belgian Beer World, the Atomium, Mini-Europe, the European Parliament, and the Design Museum Brussels all took part.

The protagonists, standing around a lectern at the signing ceremony
Signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Belgian association of women entrepreneurs FCE (Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises) and the Spanish Association of Women Entrepreneurs at the residence of the Belgian Ambassador.
The protagonists pose in front of a mosaic in the modernist building.
In Barcelona, Brussels-based Artts builds bridges between the Belgian and Catalan Art Nouveau.

The creativity and heritage of Brussels shine in Barcelona

After Madrid, the delegation travelled to Barcelona where they visited the former Sant Pau hospital, a magnificent example of Catalan modernism – the counterpart to Art Nouveau in Brussels – which has been transformed into a museum.

The BCR also has a historic hospital, Hôpital Brugmann, designed in large part by the architect Victor Horta. Representatives of the Brugmann hospital, which still operates in its original building, took part in the visit and in the discussions that followed, with a view to getting inspiration for future renovation work.

The Brussels delegation then took part in the inauguration of a digital art exhibition. Spanish artist Maria Corte reinterpreted, digitised, and exhibited works featuring the Maison Hannon, one of the masterpieces of art nouveau in Brussels.

To celebrate 100 years of Art Nouveau and build bridges between Brussels and Barcelona, speakers from Brussels and Barcelona highlighted various aspects of this superb art movement, which left its mark on both cities.

Brussels choreography in the spotlight

In the evening, Brussels International hosted a dance performance which was choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Set to Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music with musicians from the Brussels-based ensemble Ictus, the performance by dancers from the Rosas company drew enthusiastic applause from the audience at two sold-out performances at the magnificent MACBA museum of contemporary art.

Photo 1 : The dancers, performing for the audience and photo 2 : The musicians, seen from behind, performing on stage with the dancers
The Ghost Trance Music performance by the Rosas dance company and four musicians from the Ictus ensemble, funded by Brussel International.


Ans Persoons, Brussels State Secretary for International Relations and Foreign Trade, was invited to the Barcelona city hall to meet Vice-Mayors Eugènia Gay and Jordi Valls Riera. Their discussions focused on tourism, the international image of Brussels and Barcelona, and economic promotion.

The protagonists at Barcelona’s City Hall
Ans Persoons, Brussels State Secretary for International Relations and Foreign Trade, with Barcelona vice-mayors Eugènia Gay and Jordi Valls Riera, and commissioner Pau Solanilla.

In the evening, Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, and Ans Persoons, Brussels State Secretary for International Relations and Foreign Trade, inaugurated the Brussels House in Barcelona. Design, fashion, and gastronomy from the Brussels-Capital Region are showcased in this second Brussels House (the first one being in Milan), with a view to attracting potential investors, buyers, and tourists.

Numerous links were also forged between the inhabitants of Brussels and Barcelona during the Brussels networking evening that followed. The evening was deliciously enhanced by the dishes concocted by Alexandru Sapco, who was named Young Chef of the Year by Gault-Millau in 2022 and is currently in charge of the restaurant “La Bonne Chère” in the heart of Brussels.

Guests standing in a showroom at the inauguration
After Milan, a second Brussels House has opened in Barcelona, showcasing the companies and many assets of the Brussels-Capital Region abroad.

Finally, the last day focused on sustainable architecture. The delegation visited several urban development projects, and architects from Brussels and Barcelona discussed sustainable construction and decarbonisation of buildings.

Brussels Days live up to expectations

It was a busy week for the Brussels delegation, but everyone will remember the 2023 Brussels Days with enthusiasm. They provided the region with an opportunity to strengthen ties with two major peer cities. Whether it’s the economy, culture or tourism, Brussels has no shortage of assets, and it’s making it known abroad!