10 things to do in Brussels, Belgium

10 things to do in Brussels, Belgium

Almost all European cities attract tourists with a variety of architectural attractions. And tourists who like to explore new and interesting places often come to Europe. Almost all cities in the old world have a rich past, which came down to our times precisely in various architectural landmarks. Brussels is no exception.

Once upon a time, the city was home to merchants and tradesmen who tried to keep up with fashion and built the most modern buildings mainly around the King’s House. That’s why most of the attractions are located in the center of the city.

And when the economic European Community and NATO settled in Brussels, the city became a major administrative capital of Europe.

What attracts Brussels

The capital of Belgium is located on the banks of one of the largest rivers of Europe. The city itself is small in size, but it has a perfect mix of the most modern buildings and Gothic monuments, a visit to which is a pleasure. And of course, this splendor is diluted with numerous stores, stalls, restaurants and cafes serving the famous and very tasty waffles.

Brussels is famous for its hospitality and cordiality, so tourists rest here with great pleasure. Every resident of the capital is happy to help any tourist in every way. Most residents speak excellent English, so getting where you want to go shouldn’t be difficult.

The historic center of Brussels

The best way to get to know the city is to see the historic center of the city – the Grand Place Square, which many tourists call a true architectural masterpiece of Europe. And no wonder! After all, the most beautiful Gothic buildings of the city are located here. At various times in the area was located the city market, organizing town meetings, which were solving important issues. Grand Place Square exists since the 12th century, but it was actively built up only in the 1st century.

One of these buildings is the Town Hall, the spire of the building is about 100 meters high. You can see this spire from anywhere in the city. On the spire of the Town Hall is a sculpture of the Archangel Michael, whom the Belgians consider the patron of this city.

Opposite the Town Hall is the King’s House, a magnificent palace that looks more like the setting for an old movie. But the main decoration of the square is the guild houses. There are 29 such houses on the square, all of them were built in the 17th century, and not a single one is similar. Each individual house is a work of art. In each individual house lived one family, and each family, trying to show affluence, decorated the building as unusually as possible with a luxurious facade.

The most attractive house is considered the house of the guild of butchers, it is called the House of the Swan. Also looks interesting house of the guild of archers, decorated with high reliefs of she-wolf and haberdashery house with high relief in the form of a fox. It is a great pleasure to look at such interesting buildings.

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But most of the tourists come during the Christmas holidays. The square becomes a center of joy for everyone: children have fun on the rides, adults buy gifts, food and dishes for the holiday. There is an opportunity to taste delicious and unusual dishes prepared by provincial chefs.

It is easy to get to the square by any means of transport. It is possible to look around on your own, but somewhat difficult, because the variety of architecture does not allow you to grasp everything at once, so most tourists book individual or group tours. This helps to get better acquainted with the main square of the city.

Cathedral of St. Michael and Gudule.

This is a large beautiful cathedral that stands out strongly among the various buildings in the city. Originally, in the 11th century, the cathedral was built in the Romanesque style. But in the 13th century the building was transformed and some Gothic details were added. Today it is an unusual building that perfectly combines two different styles that complement each other perfectly. The basis of the facade is formed by two tall Gothic towers rising 70 meters upwards. These towers offer a magnificent view over the city. The cathedral itself has many sculptures and tall columns that emphasize the grandeur of the cathedral. In the basement of the building you can see the original walls of the structure. The windows and stained glass windows are decorated with beautiful mosaics and interesting paintings. In the cathedral you can listen to organ music and on Sundays sound the bells.

You can visit the Cathedral at any time from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. Entrance fee is charged.

The Mountain of Arts

This place appeared on the city map quite recently and gained popularity almost immediately. Once upon a time on the place of this district was a wasteland that strongly spoiled an appearance of Brussels. But at the beginning of the 20th century, neoclassical-style buildings were built here, and they perfectly fit in the already built-up area around it. Over time, the area became a center for the arts. There are many museums on the mountain, observation decks with stunning views of the city, and recreation parks, where residents love to spend their free time.

The art mountain got its name thanks to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts built on its territory. Here you can visit the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Old Art and others.

To the mountain itself leads high stairs with beautiful fountains on all sides. On top of the mountain is equipped with an observation deck. Near the site there are shops with different sweets, where anyone can have a snack.

Cocoa and Chocolate Museum

The museum is located near the famous Peeing Boy Fountain. This museum is a must visit when you come on vacation to Brussels. And the sweet tooth in particular will love it. Belgium is currently the leader in the production of chocolate in Europe. Belgian confectioners are the creators of pralines and chocolates with a filling.

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The chocolate museum appeared in Brussels in the 18th century and is still active. In the museum you can learn about the history of Belgian chocolate and chocolate in general. In the halls you can see different displays and many chocolate figures, which are much larger than the size of ordinary people. At the end of the tour, visitors are offered to try different varieties of exquisite chocolate. You can eat as much as you want. In the next room, a girl shows you the technology of creating candy fillings, and you can also eat them as much as you want. In the exit of the museum you can buy the chocolate you liked as a memento of the trip.

The entrance fee is 10 euros, and the ticket already includes a tasting.

Church of Notre Dame de la Chapelle

This church is one of the main attractions of the city. It is the oldest church in Brussels. Once upon a time there was a small chapel where monks lived to help the poor. After a while, the poor began to build their houses near this chapel. The place began to grow. Over time, several additions were made to the chapel, which formed a real temple. Wars often destroyed it, but clever monks rebuilt it each time.

At the end of the 13th century, a piece of Christ’s crucifix was given to the church. Since that time and until now, pilgrims from all over the world have flocked to this temple.

In the church, you can also see the old wooden pulpit, created in the 18th century, and the font, which was equipped in the 1st century.

The temple is open daily and can be visited at any time.

Atomium

This monument was created in honor of the peaceful atom and was timed to coincide with one of the famous exhibitions “Expo”. It is an impressive structure that can be seen from afar. The monument was created in the form of an atom, consisting of several spheres connected by steel tubes. Several spheres are open to the public. In the spheres housed museum, a restaurant and on top – observation deck, which offers great views of the Belgian capital. The top spheres take visitors to the Europe’s fastest elevator.

Atomium can be visited at any time from 10.00 to 18.00. The ticket price: 15 euros for adults and 8 euros for children 12-17 years. Children under 115 cm can visit the Atomium for free.

Atomium Museum

Visiting medieval sites can be very tiring even for the most sophisticated tourist. Therefore, return to the present will help the museum Automir. In the museum you can see different models of cars from vintage to more or less modern. Each year, this museum is visited by thousands of tourists who want to learn about the history and evolution of cars.

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The museum features exhibits that are very rare, if not to say the only ones in the world. Among the cars you can see the very first models of cars, ancient military and fire cars, the first limousines and transport of royalty. There are about fifty cars, motorcycles and public utilities of different ages. Not only adults, but children as well will love the exhibits of the museum.

At the exit of the museum there is a souvenir shop, where everyone can buy a miniature model of any of the vehicles on display.

Entrance fee is 9 euros, children under 12 years old – 3 euros, children under six years old are free. You can visit the museum from 10.00 to 18.00.

Peeing Boy

The most recognizable fountain in the world is the Peeing Boy. This attraction delights residents and visitors of Brussels for more than a century. No one can set an exact date of the fountain’s creation because there are no preserved documents confirming it. But historians and other researchers suggest that the fountain was set in the 14th century.

The figure of a funny boy peeing represents the freedom-loving spirit of the Belgian people. Many tourists come to the monument just to take a picture on its background. Each tour guide, who brings tourists here, tells several legends about the creation of this sculpture. Over the years, the fountain has been stolen many times. Authorities constantly return it to its place, as the statue is an unspoken symbol of the city.

Not far from the boy at the end of the last century there was installed a fountain “Peeing Girl”. There is also a sculpture of a dog peeing on a pole.

Miniature Park “Mini Europe”

This park is located not far from the Atomium, from the observation deck of which you can get a great view of this amazing and very interesting park. The park features miniature models of almost all famous European landmarks. In the park, an area of more than two hectares created more than 300 models not only of monuments but also of some important historical events. For example, in the park you can see the eruption of Vesuvius, the bullfights in Spain, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and much more.

Those who have not seen famous European sights with their own eyes should definitely visit the park and see a small Acropolis or get close to Big Ben, see from all sides the Eiffel Tower or all buildings of the most ancient square of Brussels Grand Place, in miniature, of course. All exhibits of the park are recreated in the smallest detail. Russian tourists will be pleased to see St. Basil’s Cathedral among the miniatures. Also in the park you can see and exhibits moving, such as mills, trains, etc.

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Park can be visited at any time from 9.30 to 18.00. In July and August – until 20:00. The ticket price for adults is 16 euros, for children under 12 years old is 12 euros.

St. Hubert Royal Galleries

This is one of the beautiful places in the city worth visiting. The galleries are a building that perfectly combines art and commerce, united by a glass dome. There are more than fifty different stores, where you can buy everything you want, from cheap souvenirs to expensive brands.

In addition to outlets in the galleries located theater, theater, a small museum, a few cafes, exhibition gallery with interesting photos, museum of letters and ethnography, where you can see the original letters of Einstein and a small entertainment center for children.

Hubert’s Royal Galleries is one of the city’s main attractions because of the building’s interesting neo-Renaissance façade, created in the mid-19th century.

A video story about the Royal Galleries:

Travel to Belgium’s capital and make your top 10 things to do in Brussels.

Ten things to do in Brussels

Ten things to do in Brussels

People are divided into those who love Brussels and those who can’t stand it. Those who love it can babble for hours about how great its boulevards, gardens, museums and banks, pâtisseries, Flemish lace and EU bureaucrats are. The latter can’t stand it here.

1. Stay at one of the oldest hotels in Brussels, the Hotel de Paris (Boulevard Poincare, 80), with its Gothic façade decorated with scrolls, a great view of the Grand Place and Boulevard Midi, and a chic waffle room. The smell of fresh Belgian waffles is in your room from ten in the morning until eight in the evening.

2. Walk to the Bourse building and take a seat in any of the cafes nestled there. Order the local drink Pimm’s which is served in the Bourse with intelligence: 40 grams of vermouth is poured into a tall glass with finely crushed ice, ginger ale and a slice of fresh cucumber is added. Some people buy this vermouth in stores and jam it in bottles, but that’s just a crime. On the third serving of Pimm’s understand what reminds you so much of the Exchange – St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

3. Sweat it out in one of the most open squares of old Europe, the Grand Place. See the Gothic City Hall, the House with the Swan, where Karl Marx once lived, the Bakers’ Guild House, and the Flemish lace store. Enter a narrow narrow alley to the right of the City Hall and after walking through a couple of blocks where they sell tapestries, waffles and fountains in the form of a boy urinating in the garden, reach the original Manneken Pis, a six-inch golden Manneken in L’Etouve Street. In the heat he is naked as a falcon, but in cold they put funny clothes on him and then make albums with photos of the baby in different costumes. It’s easy to miss him: he’s really tiny. So keep your eyes peeled.

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Ten things to do in Brussels

4. To lie on the grass in the Botanical Garden. In March, there’s the Horror Film Festival with Dario and Asia Argento strolling arm-in-arm with directors Danny Boyle and Stephen Elliott behind them. The rest of the time it’s a place for rollers, banker’s wives walking their leurettes and gossiping young moms with strollers.

5. Check out the arts and crafts fair at the Ronde Pointe Agora. There are armies of steel, crystal and plastic peeing boys, wooden cats, clay mice, brass pans and maple-cased barometers. These things, combined with a jar of Godiva or Leonidas chocolate paste snagged in a passageway near North Station, make a great gift for friends from Brussels.

6. Have lunch on Boucher Street a stone’s throw from the Grand Place. Here, however, there are barkers everywhere, in different languages (including Russian) luring visitors: “This way, to us, this way” – and only spoil everything. But despite the shouting, the mussels in white wine sauce and tomato soup with basil are very good. The mussels are best at Chez Marie in front of the Gare du Nord. They’re served in a giant pot so three people can eat in a single serving.

7. Walk on rue Antoine-Dansart, here and there dotted with stores. You will find Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, Veronique Branquinho asymmetric dresses and Dirk Bikkembergs shoes here and all this stuff costs a few times cheaper than in Moscow.

8. Late Thursday evening to wander through museums. In October and November, there are 42 museums in Brussels working until ten o’clock in the evening. Somewhere around eight the fun begins: the museums are filled with funny and cheerful young people who only wake up in the evening, as well as those who might be happy to go to museums during the day, but do not have this opportunity because of work. Whether in the morning or in the evening, don’t miss the Royal Museum, which has the best collection of Flemings in the world: Bruegel, Memling, van der Weyden, David Gerard.

9. Have a drink at the local T.G.I. Friday’s eatery on Empire Boulevard. It has the same stained glass lampshades as every T.G.I. Friday’s in the world, but the tables are old, polished pine, and an amazing bartender who runs exclusively Elton John CDs. And the best part: this is the only place where they serve the Long Island in liter mugs. Even America hasn’t thought of that.

10. Dig through the piles of junk at the huge flea market that occupies the area from the Delliez parking lot to Loveline Highway. The year-round market sells old lace, velvet suits, handbags with yellowed metal clasps, lorgnettes, frayed comic books, and maps from Friday through Sunday. Find an ancient Louis Vuitton suitcase here and, back at the hotel, pack all your Brussels purchases in it.

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