Brussels is a wonderful city that offers so many things at once. Although the town might be small, especially in comparison to other European cities, it still has a more easy-going vibe about it and a more workaday feeling. Because the city is the capital of the European Union and NATO, it has become an international hub, and there are numerous international events and festival hosted in the city. During our walking tour, we will embark upon some of the city’s best attractions and let‘s have a further look at those attractions here.
Nova Fairy Tales 10 guaranteed sites:
1. Grand Place
Grand Place is the central square of Brussels. This place can‘t be missed as it is the most touristic part of the city. The square is vibrant, and there is always something going on like street performance, flowers being sold and much more. The buildings around are in Gothic and Baroque-style, and the square has even been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.
Brussels Town Hall is located on Grand Place square, and it‘s the only medieval building that still stands and is considered a masterpiece. Construction on the town hall started in 1402 and was completed by 1420. However, there were numerous restorations made on and within the building during the 19th century, but today it is a historical monument and a part of the Grand Place UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Museum of the City of Brussels
During our tour, we will not be entering the museum, but the building is extraordinary to look at, and just like the town hall, it is located on the Grand Place and thus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is in the Gothic Revival style, and the museum is dedicated to the history and folklore of Brussels with paintings, photos, engravings, sculptures and more.
4. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
Constructions on the Gothic style, St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral on top of the Treurenberg Hill started in the 13th century and took almost 300 years to complete. The Belgian royals use the cathedral for weddings, funerals, and coronations.
5. Les Galeries Royals Saint-Hubert
This 19th-century gallery was designed by Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer in an Italianate Cinquecentro style, and it’s one of Europe’s first covered shopping arcades. The design was an inspiration to other famous shopping arcades in Europe. The gallery is split into two significant halls; Kings Gallery and Queen's gallery, and the smaller side section is called Gallery of the Princes. The Gallery attracted people of fashion with its luxury outdoor cafés and retailers. Today, the Gallery is on UNESCO’s “Tentative List”.
6. Manneken pis
Tthe quirky peeing little boy statue is probably the most famous attraction in Brussels, and the people of Brussels like to dress him up and he has been the recipient of about 800 different costumes. Many of those customs are on display at the Museum of the City of Brussels (mentioned above). Most of the people of Brussels see Manneken Pis as a representation of their sense of humor and their independent minds. They also refer to him as “the oldest citizen of Brussels”.
7. Palais Royal (the Royal Palace)
The Royal Palace is the official palace of the Belgian royal family, but the family resides in the Royal Palace of Laeken. The Neoclassical style palace is a very photogenic place, and we recommend being there at 2:30pm as a ceremonial “Changing of the Guards” takes place. Today, the Palace is used to host royal weddings, and the suites are at the disposal of visiting heads of states and ambassadors. New Year’s receptions are held for Ambassadors of the EU, politicians, and NATO.
8. Parc de Bruxelles
Parc de Bruxelles is the largest public park in central Brussels, and it was designed in a Neoclassical style by Gilles-Barnabé Guimard and Joachim Zinner. In the south of the park, you will find the Royal Palace, but the main entrance is in the north.
9. Notre Dame du Sablon
The church of Notre Dame du Sablon is a late Brabantine Gothic style church built in the 15th century. Although the church might be beautiful on the outside, just wait until you get a glimpse of the interior inside. The interior is marvelous stained glass, and the best-known part about the church is its two Baroque chapels, which were built on both sides of the choir.
10. Mont des Arts
Mont des arts or Mountain of Arts was a populated neighborhood in Brussels between the 15th and 18th century. However, King Leopold II had a dream of seeing constant sophisticated cultural settings happening outside of the window of his Royal Palace. Because of the lack of finance this didn’t go as planned, but his designers managed to create a garden on the hill which became a well-appreciated green area. With time, new buildings and structures were built, and the garden on the main square got redesigned into a new geometric garden.
Other must-see attractions in Brussels
The Atomium is probably one of Brussels’s best-known landmarks and even though you have to take the tram to get there, but it is worth the while. The 102-meter-high steel and aluminum structure was built for the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition, or World Fair, and designed by André Waterkeyn. The landmark hosts many different exhibitions dedicated to various aspects of Belgian culture, from science to art.
Do you wish to back-pack through all of Europe and see some of its magnificent monuments? There is no need to travel all those distances because next to the Atomium is Mini-Europe. However, the monuments have been shrunken down to 1/25th of their size. Both Mini-Europe and Atomium are great to visit with children.
If you truly love music, then the Musical Instrument Museum should be on top of your to-do list in Brussels. Inside you will find 1,200 mechanical and electrical instruments from around the world, and you will even get a chance to hear what these instruments sounded like. The concert hall in the museum also hosts many events throughout the year so please make sure you look at their calendar before you go here.
Another great museum to visit is MIMA, Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art and inside you will find showcases from graffiti to digital and subculture arts. The Belgian Comic Strip Center is another excellent place to visit. It is devoted to the history of cartoons and hosts exhibitions of 200 original comic drawings from Belgian and French artists. As many of you might know, Belgian is the country that introduced the world to The Smurfs and Tintin.
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