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.
We are super excited about opening up tours in five new destinations this year, 2019. Are you just as excited as we are?!?! Probably not J So let us introduce our next chapter in our Nova Fairy Tale: We will be operating small group and private walking tours in Amsterdam, Brussels, Hamburg, Berlin and Munich. These cities possess such an incredible history and it’s not to be missed. Here we will give you a little sneak peek into their history and refer to some of the sites that will be on our tours, enjoy!
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and it borders Germany and Belgium. The name Amsterdam refers to the city’s origin around a dam in the river of Amstel. The Netherlands means ‘lower countries’ and it’s a relevant name for the country as about 50% of its land is below sea level. The population of Amsterdam is around 1 million but 2,5 million in the metropolitan area.
Amsterdam became a very important port in the Dutch Golden Ages (17th century) and one of their biggest trades were Diamonds. The port is the fifth largest port in Europe today. The end of the 19th century has been named the second golden age because that is when the Industrial revolution reached the city. The canals, that Amsterdam is so known for, were built in the 17th and the 19-20th century and they are on the UNESCO World Heritage List (they will be visited on our tour).
In 1940, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and more than 100,000 Dutch Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps. The most famous deportee was undoubtedly Anne Frank, who died in one of the camps. Her diary was published and it documents her time in hiding in Amsterdam, 1942-1944.
Today, Amsterdam attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world and we want to help them to get the best out of their visit with our walking tour. During this tour we’ll visit some of Amsterdam’s main attraction and tell you about its history and living habits.
You can book your 3-hour Amsterdam walking tour here.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and its part of both the French and Flemish community of Belgium. The population of Brussels is around 1.2 million whilst the metropolitan area has over 2.1 million people.
Brussels has become a huge hub for international organizations and politics; the capital of the European Union and NATO are located within the city. Brussel also has one of the top financial centers of Europe, Euronext Brussels.
The history of Brussel is similar to other Western European countries. The city is believed to be founded around 979 and from that day the city grew rapidly due to its location by the river Senne. Brussels became a commercial center and a hub for trade routes with the other cities along the river. The Nine Year’s war with France in 1695, left Brussels with the most destructive event in the history of Brussels. There was a fire that resulted in the destruction of the Grand Place and a third of all buildings within the city. The reconstruction changed the look of the city and until this day, you can still see traces of the fire.
It wasn’t until 1830, when the Belgium revolution burst out, that Belgium gained its independence after decades of wars and many occupations by its neighboring countries. Leopald I was the first king of Belgium and he quickly began constructing many of the buildings in the city and thus, the city underwent many changes and its population grew.
During the 20th century, many fairs and conferences were held in Brussels, including three world fairs in 1910, 1935 and 1958. Brussels still remains a popular place for international events. During our tours we will show you some of the historical landmarks that have marked Brussels and Belgium’s history. Come and join us!
You can book our 3-hour Brussels walking tour here.
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany with a population of 1.8 million people and 5 million in the metropolitan area. The city lies on the River Elbe along with River Alster and River Billie. The official name of ‘Hamburg is Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg’, which originates from its membership of the medieval Hanseatic League but the name Hamburg dates all the way back to AD 808 when a castle called Hammaburg was built to defend the citizens against Slavic incursion.
During medieval times, Hamburg got destroyed and occupied several times. The occupations and destruction came from the Vikings, Denmark, Poland but destructions also came from fires and diseases. The Black Death killed at least 60% of Hamburg’s population in 1350.
After its many occupations, Hamburg was finally freed in 1814 and gained its independency in 1815. In the 12th century Hamburg became a major port in Northern Europe due to its trade routes of the North and Baltic Sea but the city experienced true growth during the end of the 19th century when Hamburg became the second largest port, with shipping companies sailing to North and South America, Africa, India and East Asia. Hamburg was also a big departure hub for people migrating to the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Hamburg suffered during the Second World War as many of the cities buildings and harbor got destroyed. The multiple air raids by the Nazi Germany killed at least 42,600 civilians. Despite these many setbacks in Hamburg’s history, the city has somehow always manages to recover and emerge wealthier after each catastrophe.
Hamburg has Europe’s third-largest port and the world’s oldest merchant bank, Berenberg Bank. Today, Hamburg has become a major international and domestic tourist destination. Not only is it a great city to visit but also a great city to live in as Hamburg was ranked 18th in the world for livability in 2016. The city has a few World Heritage Sites and it’s famous for paving the way for bands such as the Beatles. We think Hamburg is such a great city and we want everyone to get the best out of their stay here, so come and join our 3-hour walking tours and let’s explore this wonderful city together.
Book you 3-hour walking tour here.
Berlin is the capital of Germany and the country’s largest city, with 3.8 million inhabitants and 6 million in the metropolitan area. The name of the city comes from the language of West Slavic and it is related to the Old Polabian term berl-/birl- which means swamp.
The first evidence of settlements in Berlin were around 1174 and in the 12th century, the two towns of Berlin and Cölln were united as one. During the 15th century Berlin-Cölln was named the capital of the margraviate and ruled by the Hohenzollern family until the beginning of the 20th century. Within that time, the construction on the new palace began and the royal residence moved to Berlin-Cölln. During the famous Thirty Years’ War in 1618-1648, Berlin lost one third of its houses and half of its population. During the Industrial Revolution, Berlin got transformed into Germany’s main railway hub and economic center of Germany. The population of Berlin also increased and in 1871, Berlin became the capital of the German Empire.
In 1920, Berlin merged in building dozens of suburban cities, villages and estates and the result of this was that its population doubled, from 2 million to 4 million. In 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in Germany and during the World War II a big part of Berlin got destroyed and left Berlin as the most heavily bombed city in history. In 1945, Berlin got divided into four sectors due to the victorious powers. The sectors then got split into West Berlin and East Berlin, the Soviet sector. In 1948 East Berlin blocked any routes to and from West Berlin and in 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in the West whilst the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic was founded in the East. In 1961, East Berlin began its construction on the Berlin Wall. The wall fell on the 9th of November in 1989 but its remains are still largely preserved. The wall pays a big part in Nova Fairy Tales walking tours.
Today, Berlin can be considered a world city because of its culture, politics, media and science. The city’s economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector and recently there has been an emerge of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene. Berlin has world-renowned universities, museums, orchestras, and hosts many entertainment and sporting events. It’s known for its festivals, nightlife, art and the high quality of living. Amazingly, one-third of the cities area is surrounded by parks, forests, gardens, canals, rivers and lakes. Berlin is a very popular tourist destination and that is where we come in. We want to take you around and show you Berlin’s greatest historical monuments and attractions.
Join our Berlin’s 3-hour walking tour here.
Munich is the third largest city of Germany with a population of 1.5 million residence but 6 million in the metropolitan region. Munich is the capital of its region, Bavaria, and it was chosen the world’s most livable city by the Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey in 2018. The city has a very high standard of living and is a major center of art, culture, finance, technology, innovation, business, tourism and education. The name Munich comes from an Old/middle High German term Munichen, which means “by the monks” and it does in fact derive from the monks who lived in what is now known as the old town of Munich.
The first known settlement in the area of Munich was in 1158 and in the year 1506 Munich became Bavaria’s capital. The city didn’t suffer many destructions nor deaths in the medieval times but the worst disease that affected Munich was the bubonic plague which broke out in 1634-1635 and a third of Munich’s population died.
During the Nazi Party ruling, Munich became “the capital of the movement” and in 1933, when the party had taken power, they created the first concentration camp in Dachau, 16 kilometers north-west of Munich. The camp is a must-visit whilst visiting Munich but we warn you, it’s not for sensitive souls. The city was heavily bombed during the war which resulted in more than 50% of the entire city getting destroyed. However, Munich managed to restore most of its traditional cityscapes after the war. In 1972, Munich hosted the Summer Olympics where Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian fedayeen in what has been called “the Munich Massacre”.
Today, Munich hosts numerous events, exhibition and more but the most famous event is probably Oktoberfest which attracts many tourists into the city. Munich is one of the fastest growing cities in Germany and the crime rate there is very low in comparison to other big cities in Germany. We absolutely adore this city and we want you to feel the same way during our tour.
Book your Munich 3-hour walking tour here.
On our blog you will find travel tips and inspiration across our destinations. You'll find anything from food and drink recommendations to must-see attractions, hidden gems and seasonal events.