Belgium's iconic Grand Place stands as a testament to the city's glorious cultural and economic legacy. Recognized as one of the most splendid market squares in Europe, its arcade is completely enclosed by tall, gabled Flemish Renaissance buildings decorated with intricate ornamentation and carved statues. Of the buildings that surround the square, the Town Hall with its Brabantine Gothic tower and the Neo-Gothic Brussels City Museum are especially remarkable. Impressive as it is by day, the square is even more stunning at night under the golden glow of street lights. During spring and summer evenings there is a light show that brings to life the city's musical and cultural heritage.
This old theater housed in what was once the guildhall of local market vendors is located near the stock exchange. After WWII, the building was renovated and eventually turned into a modern, soundproof concert hall. Its famous performers have included The Clash, The Cure, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Lou Reed, among others. Every year dozens of concerts take place in the AB, as the hall is locally known. For a schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the AB website.
Brussels Town Hall is an intricate Gothic marvel that forms the focal point of Brussels' iconic Grand Place and is easily one of the city's most lavish civic buildings. The Town Hall was chiefly designed by two architects: the left wing by Jacques van Thienen in 1402, and the right wing by Jean van Ruysbroeck in 1445-1450. The two rear wings were added much later in 1712 but were designed in harmony with the architectural style of the original, L-shaped building. The exterior walls of the Town Hall feature numerous statues that depict saints, nobles, and other figures, each a vivid image of the people they represent. Uniting these efforts is the striking and exquisite Gothic tower at the center topped by a statue of St. Michael, the patron saint of Brussels. Inside, the elegant rooms are decorated with tapestries and paintings from the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries. Brussels Town Hall is an arresting sight, especially when lit up at night.
This location is home to many upscale antiques stores, along with Emporio Armani, the world-renowned pastry boutique Wittamer, and much more. The square is distinguished by a statue of Minerva, given to the city as a gift in 1751. Here you'll also find Our Lady Church and the Sablon Church. On Saturday from 9a-6p and on Sunday from 9a-2p an antique market is in full swing. Just across the square you'll find Place du Petit Sablon, a quaint garden filled with statues.
This wonderful museum is for children aged four to twelve and is a must for every parent. The museum's exhibits help them discover their feelings, talents and senses. Professional performers welcome and guide you through the discovery rooms. These tours last two hours and can be enjoyed by both young and old. They are organized around themes from daily life with changing themes throughout the year. Visit their website for varying dates.
This whimsical fountain takes the form of a nonchalant, unclothed boy relieving himself into a basin, a symbol indicative of the city of Brussels' eccentric spirit. A drinking-water fountain that dates back to the 15th Century, the original Manneken Pis was replaced by a bronze cast in 1619 by Jerome Duquesnoy. Although the cheerful little lad survived the bombardment of Brussels in 1695, the statue was repeatedly stolen and retrieved making for a rather colorful history that is heartily embellished with folklore and legends. Following its abduction in 1965, the original was once more rescued, this time from the depths of the Charleroi Canal, restored and placed under the care of the Museum of the City of Brussels, and replaced with a copy. The spirit of this cheeky icon has not diminished, however, but instead has come to be world-renown. With a wardrobe composed of over 900 outfits, the Manneken Pis is dressed in different garb at varying points throughout the year, an event that attracts visitors from near and far. From the 19th Century onward, the Manneken Pis no longer dispenses drinking water but instead is an ornamental fountain. A rather small and undeniably odd image for a cultural icon, the Manneken Pis, or "peeing boy," nonetheless remains a treasured symbol of Brussels' irreverent wit.
Located on Place Royale, with no less than eight floors underground, the Museum of Modern Art was constructed around a light shaft that allows daylight to filter down. As part of the Belgian Royal Museum of Fine Arts, it houses a selection of works by Belgian modernists such as Marcel Broodthaers, Rik Wouters and 28 pieces by René Magritte. It also includes foreign artists such as Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall. There is a gift shop and cafeteria. The Museum of Modern Art is closed for renovation works until 2012. Please check the website regarding the museum's reopening.
Built in 1928 by architect Victor Horta, the Centre for Fine Arts draws together all art forms under the same roof: visual arts, music, theater, literature, ballet and an assortment of temporary exhibits. The world-famous Henri Le Bœuf Hall is a concert hall boasting impressive acoustics. The Film Museum is housed in the basement. There are 15 societies funded by this museum, including the Europalia Society and the Festival of Flanders. These associations guarantee that the center is filled with continuous programming. For ticketing and programming information, visit the website.