Brussels, being the capital city of Belgium and administrative capital of whole EU, is a place not to be missed in any Europe trip. As a city it is multicultural and has beautiful architecture all around. Not to forget the Belgian beers and Belgian chocolates…
Here I am listing what not to miss when you are in Brussels. Explore these places and share your experiences 🙂
Grote Markt / Grand Place
This UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the main tourist attraction of the City of Brussels. Beautifully enclosed between many of the famous buildings of Brussels, in which special one is the 15th century Town Hall, this square an ideal place to spend some quality time. The Grand place square is accessible by a lot of alleys by walk and the best entrance is via Rue des Harengs. Also here you will find the best cafes and local bars of Brussels city.
There is a daily flower market between March and October and often accompanied with concerts and a light show in the evening. So if you are in the city during these months make sure you attend the festivities.
Hôtel de Ville – Town Hall
While in the Grote Markt, don’t forget to visit this gothic 15th century town hall. It is an attractive building with arched windows, towers and adorned with sculptures including St Michael slaying a she-devil. If you are feeling energetic, climb the 96 metre high Brabantine Gothic tower and enjoy the amazing views over the city. This building hold a lot of timeless stories of architectures and wars, you will get a lot of history in in here.
Manneken-Pis – ‘Pissing Boy’
This 60 cm high chubby boy is probably the most photographed statue in Brussels. Mannekin-Pis is a major character in folklore of Brussels and was created by Jerome Duquesnoy. He has a small fountain piece where the water emerges from a tiny metal penis that the boys points at the viewer. He is usually stark-naked but sometimes he gets dressed. He has an impressive wardrobe of 600 outfits displayed in the Maison du Roi.
City Museum – Maison du Roi (French)
This museum is dedicated to the history of Brussels, and if you have already seen the Manneken-Pis, in here you can take a look at his costumes. The history of Brussels is told over three floors from the Middle Ages to date.
Royal Palace Brussels
Next to the Royal Park and strategically situated across from the Palace of the Nation stands the Royal Palace of Brussels. Representing part of Belgium’s constitutional monarchy, the Royal Palace of Brussels serves as the official palace where the king welcomes heads of state and government and conducts events. This is a huge building with remarkable architecture and as its still functional it is open to public on some particular days only.
Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée – Belgian Comic Strip Center
Belgium has more comic strip artists per square kilometre than any other country, so if you love cartoons, you may appreciate this museum dedicated to the comic strip. It is housed in the Waucquez Warehouse, a masterpiece in itself, designed by Art Nouveau architect, Victor Horta. You will be taken on the journey a comic strip artist has to make from concept to shop. There’s over 5000 original drawings and an entire section to Belgium’s famous cartoon character hero – Tin Tin.
Heysel Park and the Atomium
Heysel park, located in the west of Brussels, is dedicated to recreation and leisure. In 1985, the European Champions Cup tragedy took place in the Heysel stadium killing several spectators. It has been redesigned since then and renamed Stade Roi Baudoin (King Baudoin Stadium).
One of the main highlights of the park is the Atomium. This is a glistening 102 metre (335 ft) high model of an atom made out of chrome and steel designed by André Waterkeyn. To really appreciate this structure, take time to gaze up and enjoy the sheer enormity.
Next door to the Atomium is Bruparck, a 25 hectare leisure park of several amusements and attractions. This includes a 27 cinema complex called Kinepolis, an all-round Imax screen, a planetarium and a water park called L’Oceade plus a clutch of eateries in ‘The Village’.
Pride of place though goes to the display of some of the most famous and symbolic buildings of the countries of the European Union at 1/25th of the original size. You will see gondolas, a TGV train on its way to Paris even hear the unmistakable chimes of Big Ben.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart
This beautiful church is the fifth largest church in the world, located in the Koekelberg municipality of Brussels. Its impressive dimensions (89 metres high and 167 metres long) look out over the Parc Elisabeth. Though it is modelled on the Sacré-Coeur in Paris, it is made of concrete, sandstone and red-brick and, unlike the original and is not gleaming white. King Leopold decided to build it in 1902 and he laid the first stone in 1905. It was finally completed in 1971 in time to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence.
Antique lovers should descend upon the antiques market in Place du Grand Sablon where on the square and the streets panning out from the square, the discerning antique lover may find that special piece. Rue de la Paille, Rue des Minimes and Rue de Rollebeek are particularly interesting.
Brussels also has its own flea market – the Jeu de Balle Flea Market. Rummage around here for gems, second-hand goods and period furniture bargains.
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Cheers! Keep Travelling !