Best of Brussels: Europe’s Stunning Capital
Belgium is a melting pot of cultures and languages thanks to its proximity to four different countries: France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Brussels makes good use of the diversity that this provides. In addition, the city’s many museums and landmarks showcase Belgium’s rich history.
Belgium as a nation has existed for fewer than two centuries. Despite this, it has become home to a number of Europe’s most prestigious organizations.
Include the European Parliament. The heart of Europe is in Brussels. Cafes and shops abound, and the area has a beautiful bohemian vibe and picturesque streets.
Brussels is known for its beer, chocolate, and the stunning Grand Place, widely regarded as the most beautiful square in the world. However, there are numerous Art Nouveau palaces, galleries, and museums to explore. In addition, there are numerous parks in which to take a stroll and unwind.
You can easily travel to other popular Belgian destinations from Brussels, including Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges. In addition, traveling by train across the country is quick and easy.
ADMIRING THE GRAND PLACE: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SQUARE IN EUROPE
The Grand Place is the beating center of Brussels. One could not pick a better location from which to launch a citywide exploration. Victor Hugo once proclaimed this square to be the most stunning in the entire world.
You won’t hear it from us denying that fact. The harmonious blend of Gothic and Baroque architecture is what earned it World Heritage status.
Since the eleventh century, each building in this cobbled square has contributed to the story of this city. There was once a marketplace here. The streets that radiate out from the square are named after culinary ingredients like cheese, herbs, and chicken.
The Gothic city hall, constructed in the 15th century, is situated to one side. The Maison du Roi is another notable structure on the square.
An old bakery once operated out of this wooden structure. The hundreds of costumes worn by the Mannekin Pis are now stored here at the Museum of the City.
Last but not least, the Maison de Ducs de Brabant is a collection of neoclassical buildings with Flemish roots that is also worth admiring.
Also, your visit to the Grand Place would be incomplete without a stop at Le Roi d’Espagne to sample some of the local Belgian beer on the rooftop terrace. In this vantage point, you can take in the square’s bustle and marvel at the unparalleled architectural ensemble.
VISIT THE MANNEKEN PIS
Located in the heart of the historic district of the Belgian capital, this 1388 statue stands very close to the Grand Place. Despite being only 55 centimeters tall, it has become a widely recognized and loved symbol of Brussels. It’s supposed to depict a young child urinating into a fountain’s basin.
A governor dressed the Mannekin Pis for the first time in 1698. To date, the 650 garments he has received as gifts from the world’s visiting heads of state have accumulated in his Brussels apartment. The original statue wears one of these outfits on special occasions designated by the City Council.
ENTERING THE ROYAL ST. HUBERT GALLERIES
These galleries, which date back to 1847, are the precursors to all commercial galleries in Europe. The galleries are illuminated by natural light from above thanks to a massive glass dome.
They stretch for about 200 meters and are split into the Royal Gallery, the Royal Prince Gallery, and the Royal Queen Gallery. These walkways link the Grand Place to the Theatre de La Monnaie neighborhood. By doing so, they unite the city’s past and present.
Since their construction, they have served as a hub for Belgium’s cultural elite and intellectual community.
These days, this once quiet gallery has become a popular tourist destination. There are restaurants, a movie theater, and a small theater to enjoy after you’ve shopped for jewelry and chocolate at the exclusive shops here.
STROLLING THROUGH ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL PARKS
The city of Brussels is proud to have more parks per person than any other European capital. Some of the most stunning and well-known green spaces in the city are listed below.
The Cinquantenaire Park is the most well-known and frequented green space in the metropolis. It was made for the 1880 Universal Exposition, which marked the 50th anniversary of Belgium’s independence.
There are a number of museums located within this park. The Museum of Art and History, the Museum of Military History, and Autoworld (the Museum of Automobiles) are just a few examples.
On the other hand, the Parc de Bruxelles is the largest park and the primary recreation area in the downtown area. This hotel enjoys a prime location in Brussels, just steps away from the Royal Palace and the Parliament Building.
The impressive Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the fifth-largest church in the world, is located in Elisabeth Park. It’s a bit outside of the city center of Brussels, but it’s well worth the trip.
VISITING THE ATOMIUM: ICON OF BRUSSELS
In the Heizel neighborhood on the city’s outskirts stands this iron landmark that has come to symbolize Brussels. It was constructed for the 1958 World’s Fair. Even though it was supposed to be taken down after the event was over, it was so well received that it was decided to keep it up indefinitely.
Its shape is reminiscent of the nine atoms in an iron crystal, which stand in for the nine Belgian provinces when magnified by a factor of a few billion.
It’s fascinating from every angle, from the exterior to the interior to the various spheres within. Some of them have a section set aside for a particular purpose, such as a museum dedicated to its building process.
Tunnels with escalators link them together. The upper one is the most fascinating because it features a restaurant and a lookout point over Brussels.