Most city tours start from the Market Square. Grand Place is not only the largest and most beautiful square in Brussels, but also one of the most beautiful in the world. In the 13th century, the malls were noisy here, holidays and knightly tournaments were organized, fullers worked, and justice was administered. The buildings around the square were destroyed in 1695 during the French siege, but later rebuilt according to an elaborate plan and made to look even better. The facades of the houses are decorated with skillful carvings, garlands, figurines and columns. Each of the old buildings has its own name, for example, “Wolf”, “Cart”, “Little Fox”.
The most prominent building on the square is the Hôtel de Ville town hall (15th century) with a 96-meter tower crowned by a 5-meter statue of the Archangel Michael slaying the dragon. The original statue from the 15th century was replaced with a copy in 1996. The facade of the town hall is richly decorated with sculptures depicting scenes from the life of the city. Today, a part of the town hall is available for inspection. A collection of handmade wall carpets from the 16th-18th centuries is stored in richly decorated interiors.
Every even-numbered year, the Grand Place is decorated with a floral carpet, an amazing sight that tens of thousands of tourists flock to see.
On the other side of the square are the Bread Rows (Maison du Roi/Broodhuis). Under Philip II, the building served as the residence of the court court, hence its French name – the King’s House. Today it houses the Historical Museum with a rich collection of art objects and an entertaining collection of costumes for Manneken Pis.
4 things to do in Brussels
- Find all the pissing sculptures in Brussels – a boy, a girl and a dog.
- Visit the quarter behind the Market Square, which is called the “Womb of Brussels”. Satisfy your stomach too.
- Try “Brussels balls” – the most popular local dessert.
- Learn all the secrets of Belgian brewing.
The world-famous symbol of Brussels – Manneken Pis, or “Manneken Pis” – appeared in 1619 and has since been repeatedly stolen and rebuilt. It is believed that the figurine of the boy is the embodiment of the rebellious spirit of the inhabitants of the Belgian capital. Recently, on the next street, the baby had a sister – Janneken Pis.
According to tradition, representatives of foreign delegations and international organizations bring the national costume of their country or a military uniform to the Brussels prankster, and Russian cosmonauts recently presented the sculpture with a spacesuit for going into space.
By the way, Manneken Pis was included in our video selection. True, if he knew about this, he certainly would not be happy. See for yourself!
To the west of the historic center lies the Upper Town, from which you can admire the view of old Brussels. A huge area is occupied by the Brussels Park, which houses the Royal Palace – the residence of the Belgian monarchs. The museum collection of the palace contains art objects made of porcelain, silver and glass. There is also the Bellevue Museum dedicated to the history of the Kingdom of Belgium. Another monumental structure in the area is the Palace of Justice, the largest building of the 19th century.
The western slope of the Upper City is adorned with the silhouette of St. Michael’s Cathedral. Its construction was carried out from 1047 for several centuries, the Gothic style is due to the restructuring of the 13th century. The dominants of the external appearance of the temple are two powerful towers, each of which has access to the terrace. Inside, the stained glass windows of the 16th century and the carved pulpit of 1669 attract attention.
Museums and other attractions in Brussels
One of the most famous historical sights of the city is the 212 m long Royal Galleries of St. Hubert, opened in 1846. This is the first architectural complex in Europe with covered galleries, today surrounded by dozens of art salons, cafes, restaurants and theaters.
On the small Museum Square there is the Palace of Charles of Lorraine and the famous “Failure” – an illuminated well in which some of the exhibits of the Museum of Modern Art are exhibited.
Superbly preserved Art Nouveau buildings are a special architectural landmark of the capital. One of the most striking examples is the Victor Horta Museum, designed and built by the prominent architect himself, the largest representative of Belgian Art Nouveau.
Foam lovers should look into the dungeons of an old building in the very heart of Brussels, where the expositions of the Beer Museum are located. They occupy only two small halls, but the vaulted ceilings and brickwork create an ancient atmosphere in which the old equipment of the 18th century seems to be about to start working. A separate part is devoted to modern brewing technologies.
When the historical center of the city has already been explored far and wide, along with the most interesting museums and exhibitions, you can go to the Laeken district located to the north. There is a large park, on the outskirts of which stands the symbol of peaceful nuclear energy – the Atomium monument, and next to it is the Mini-Europe park. A great opportunity to see all the famous buildings of the continent in one place.
Brussels for children
Brussels has a small selection of children’s entertainment, but it is still possible to find something for young tourists.
The Children’s Museum is located in the commune of Ixelles. The creators of this educational space are sure that it is more interesting to learn about the world around us in a playful way. To do this, the museum has 5 workshops – culinary, artistic, literary, repair and theatrical.
In the Laeken area, next to the Mini-Europe park, the Okeadium water park has been opened (off site in English). Some of the pools are indoors, the other is outdoors. The park has 8 water rides, extreme and for the whole family, as well as wave pools and other entertainment. For kids, children’s areas with small slides are equipped.
Half an hour from Brussels, in the town of Wavre, there is a large Walibi park (off. site in English), where water activities are combined with land activities. In the first part, there are 7 slides and pools with waves and whirlpools. In a special area there are many slopes for children from 3 to 8 years old. The second half of the park is occupied by 9 extreme and 14 family attractions, as well as 16 carousels for kids. You can look at the surroundings from the height of the Ferris wheel or take a boat ride on the river.
Although the climate of Brussels is very mild, and there is practically no cold here, it is better to plan a trip for the summer. According to citypopulationreview.com, from June to August, the city has warm comfortable weather, without heat and stuffiness. In the evenings it can even be cool, a jacket will not be superfluous.
It rains often and almost all year round, so in winter, when the temperature is close to zero, it can be chilly outside, walking around the city is uncomfortable. The least amount of precipitation falls in May and June, but the probability is still possible – it is better to take an umbrella with you. The rainiest time is from November to February.