Brussels sometimes seems almost synonymous with its medieval Grand Place, which is unassumingly grand and luxurious. The capital of Belgium and Flanders — as well as the headquarters of the European Union and NATO — the city is filled with 17th century architecture and lovely flower markets which open daily. Visit the Atomium, which is Brussels equivalent of the Eiffel Tower, for a terrific view of the city. To discover more and enjoy the delicious seafood available around the city just take a walk rather than using a vehicle.
When To Go:
The best times to visit this beautiful city would be during March and May, and also in the months of September and October. There are fewer crowds of people around. The rates are lower, accommodations are easily available, and the weather is good. Brussels experiences all four seasons so rain is always possible in every season.
The International Animated Film Festival takes place in March while the Iris Day Festival happens in May. The winter months are extremely chilly with more rainfall. The summers are quite crowded with more tourists in the city and elevated prices. The fall season however, is a very good time to visit Brussels as the weather is mild and festivals end — making prices drop down to reasonable.
Grand Place Brussels
earned a spot as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1998. In olden times the place used to be a market for the citizens where traders would sell different items. Today you will find surrounding streets named after things like chicken (poulet), herbs (herbes) and cheese (fromage). After France attacked Brussels in 1695 most of the buildings were destroyed, and rebuilt later on. Buildings from 3 different eras of Baroque, Gothic and Louis XIV are now resent here.
The City Hall, Maison du Roi and guild houses surround The Grand Place. Today, many events like the daily flower market, concerts and other cultural events take place in this area. This is the most central part of Brussels and you will find many Belgian cafes around the place. Also, if you walk in the streets around the Square you will see many Turkish and Greek restaurants hidden within them. So take a stroll, find pretty flowers and enjoy the Belgian environment to its fullest.
Town Hall (Hotel de Ville)
of Brussels is the most extravagant building in an area filled with beautiful buildings.
The Town Hall
has Gothic architecture and the many sculptures on the exterior of the building make it one of the most admired places in the city. Originally built in 1402, the interior of the building is extremely lavish and includes styles from Gothic, Baroque and Louis XIV periods.
The building caught fire in 1695 after French attacks and was restored later on to its full grandeur. The mirrored Gothic Hall is the most interesting part of the place along with Flemish tapestries from the 16th to the 18th centuries which were hung in the embellished council chambers. A tour of this amazing building is a must and can only be done after an appointment — so make sure you get one and go explore this hall filled with historic artifacts and styles from 3 different time periods.
Foret des Soignes
This natural part of Brussels is the real beauty of the city. When you get tired of going through the buildings and the streets of this historic city take a trip down to the
. You can go hiking or mountain biking in the winding paths of this forest. The paths are of different kinds depending on what you plan to do — the tracks are marked separately according to intended use: horse riding, biking or for walking. There are cafes and bars on the outer periphery of the forest where you can find snacks and drinks after a walk or run in the foliage of the forest.
Moreover, you can find many species of animals in the forest when exploring; it is not uncommon to see fox, squirrels, chipmunks and even red deer. Plan a picnic as there are many permanent wooden benches and tables available in the forest. The sight of this forest makes you think you are in another place far from Brussels. The lake with ducks playing, the trees and the beautiful plants growing around are peaceful for the eyes.
MIM- Musical Instruments Museum
Walk into this magnificent building to find original musical instruments which are traditional to different places in the world.
The Musical Instruments Museum (MIM
) is based in an Art Nouveau building built in 1899 and was renovated brilliantly to house Old England-style shops. It houses more than 15,000 different instruments in a showcase which mesmerizes all the visitors. The instruments are open to examine on 4 floors of the building, many instruments are presented along with interesting stories. On the bottom floor you will find mechanical instruments, instruments from the 19th and 20th centuries, and a beautiful collection of bells.
The ground floor hosts popular musical instruments from Belgium and Europe along with some other continents of the world. The first floor takes you on a journey from Antiquity till the present time. The second floor exhibits stringed instruments like guitars, harpsichords, clavichords, pianos, citharas and many others. There is an exquisite system of infrared audio-headset systems, which allows visitors to experience the sound of each musical instrument separately. The restaurant of
is located on the topmost floor, and provides delicious food and a terrific view of the entire city. Go ahead and take a tour of this different museum and travel through music of time.
Serres Royales de Laeken
The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken
Serres Royales de Laeken
is a marvelous beauty of Brussels. In the season of spring, which spans from April till May, these greenhouses are open to the public for a few weeks, so everyone can view the exotic variety of flowers and plants in the royal gardens. You can view the castle where the royal family of Belgium lives from this greenhouse, but from a distance as it is protected by barbed wire and the army.
In the 3 weeks that these gardens are open, you can see the amazing architecture of Alphonse Balat who was the mentor of Victor Horta. The building is made of steel and glass only! It was Leopold II’s idea to have a little winter garden of his own to enjoy in. Take your camera along to this vast place filled with colors of nature and relax within these gardens. Take a tour and do not forget to check the time for the tours. This is something you do not want to miss.
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
This church is the primary church of Belgium and is named after the patron saints of the country. When the
church of St. Michael
was built in 1047, the Duke of Brabant transferred relics of
which are still kept inside the building. This Gothic building was renovated in the 13th century and this renovation was completed after 300 years in the middle of the 15th century.
The South tower of the church holds a 49-carillon bell, which is rung for a concert usually given on Sundays. Since it is located in the capital of the country, royal ceremonies like marriages and state funerals take place here. The stained glass windows of the church are beautifully lit when sunlight falls on the building. The interior is not so extravagant since many armies have invaded the city and plundered the treasures. A tour of this historic and Gothic structure is necessary to view the beauty of the city.
Bois de la Cambre and Foret de Soignes
Another beautiful and serene place located in the heart of the city of Brussels the
la Cambre, which
extends to the
Foret de Soignes
. It was designed in 1861 by a German architect named Eduard Keilig. It consists of a forest and a park with lakes and ponds in it. The place has been planned very specifically with trees planted irregularly like in a forest and the gardens imitate nature perfectly.
Bois de la Cambre
even has a stable that allows children to take rides on ponies. It’s the Pony Club of the gardens. There are lawns, playgrounds, a roller-skating rink, an artificial lake and an island along with a pocket theatre. There is a Chalet Robinson Café where you can go on a ferry to try some food and drinks or to enjoy some ice cream. A walk around this extensive place is a must if you enjoy nature.
Notre Dame du Sablon
Notre Dame du Sablon
Church of our Lady of Sablon
in the city of Brussels was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. The gray-white Gothic walls and arches of the building are contrasted with the colorful stained glass windows which are illuminated from within at night. The Baroque chapels are adorned with funeral symbols made from white marble.
The Sablon church used to be surrounded by houses in olden times, but they were demolished during the reign of Leopold II. The statue of St.Hubert standing in the church is famous because it was once stolen and taken to Antwerp but was seized again and brought back to the church. The church is an extremely beautiful sight with the Gothic architecture inside and outside while the illuminated windows are highly picturesque. Go to this heavenly and sacred site to admire the beauty of the building and learn its history.
Jardin du Petit Sablon
In the middle of the city filled with people and busy places stands the
Jardin du Petit
in a neighborhood known as
. The place used to barren and was a cemetery for the poor people of the city at one point in time, but slowly the elite of the city started building their houses there making it an upscale residential area. The small garden inside is surrounded by a very different kind of railing with 48 small columns, each of which is topped by a statuette representing one of Brussels’ guilds.
Springtime is best for taking a stroll through this small garden as tulips are in full bloom. However, any season or weather is perfect for taking a walk in this area — you may find a wedding reception taking place in the
Notre Dame du Sablon
. This site is another place close to nature and also filled with history; you should visit to enjoy the different flowers growing in the garden and to relax in the peaceful lush green grounds.
Horta Museum (Musee Horta)
This museum is not exactly a museum, but was originally the house that Victor Horta built for himself in the late 1890’s. The architecture of the building itself is what makes it a museum and worth seeing.
The Horta Museum
presents the typical Art Nouveau style; it includes the use of materials like steel and iron in visible areas, with mosaics and graffiti on the façade. The rooms are built around a central hall.
A beautiful glass ceiling allows sunlight to enter the house and create the effect of natural illumination inside, which was a unique aspect compared to other houses built in the 18th and 19th centuries in Belgium. The original interior is still kept intact with the mosaics, paintings, furniture and stained glass windows. The house now also exhibits old photographs, casts, plans and scale models that explain the work of the famous architect. Explore the house of Victor Horta and learn about the architecture of the entire city.
Situated in the halls of
Parc du Cinquantenaire
— is one of the architectural beauties of Brussels —
exhibits more than 250 vehicles of different origins. These vehicles show the development of cars for over a century. You will find cars from European or U.S companies — Bugatti from 1928 and racing cars from the 1960’s — along with motorcycles and even a history of the reconstruction of a garage from the 1920’s.
You will find the very first form of a car, a horse-drawn carriage that later on gained an engine. Start your tour by walking in the center aisle and looking to your left side, going around in an anti-clockwise circle. After completing this circle walk to the center aisle again and take a circle in a clockwise direction on the right side of the hall. This allows you to look at the cars in a chronological order. On the right corner of the first floor is a small room filled with horse carriages including one used by Napoleon. The second floor is filled with newer cars and even has an empty spot for future cars. So take a journey through the cars of older times and see the evolution of the automobile industry.
Royal Theatre Toone
theatre of Toone,
which has been established since 1830, moved to the city of Brussels in 1966. This
has been run by the same family for more than 8 generations and is an excellent and famous tourist attraction in Brussels. This theatre allows you to enjoy a drink from the bar while watching the puppet shows, which are from the 19th and 20th centuries. The puppets are not ordinary puppets, but are 20 inches tall and designed to perfection. The sets are highly elaborate, decorated according to each show. The puppeteers are masters in their jobs, and craft their characters professionally. The adults watching the show will enjoy the humor and witty dialogues, while the children will admire the color and beauty of the puppets.
The Royal Theatre Toone
is set in a 17th century building in the streets of Brussels so do ask your way before going to the place.
This unique bar theater featured red Spanish brick,s with blackened beams and a tiled floor — and a puppet stage in the attic. There are wooden benches, pillows and colorful scallops nailed to the rough boards on walls. There is a workshop where the puppets are made, and a puppet museum displaying puppets originating from the beginning of this theatre. So go ahead and enjoy this amazing place with its special puppets and history of the genre. Make sure you find all the details related to booking the show or you will not be able to enter!
Brussels is an amazingly beautiful city filled with historic gardens, churches and museums displaying a variety of things, from cars to musical instruments from across the world. Plan your trip perfectly so you can enjoy the different aspects the location has to offer. Take a walk in the forest and try to view the royal palace. The churches of St. Michael and St. Gudula are exquisite buildings with contrasting architecture. Moreover, if you are looking for brilliant styles of buildings, then take a tour of the Horta museum to view the brilliant aesthetics of the famous architect of the city. Find picnic spots in the Foret de Soignes and the small garden in the busy part of Sablon. Brussels is romantic as well as a city that provides adventure. So take a time out and spend your vacation in this magical city.