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.
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.
Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is the location for Belgium's royal weddings and funerals. It started its construction in the 13th Century and it was completed two centuries later. Various chapels were added during the 16th and 17th centuries. A striking figure of precision and symmetry, the cathedral serves as a monumental example of Brabant-Gothic architecture. Outside, two awe-inspiring towers attract attention and it is hard not to admire the intricate stained-glass windows. The remnants of the 10th-century Romanesque church, on top of which the cathedral was built, evoke considerable awe as well. Concerts featuring religious or classical music are also regularly held here.
For the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence in 1880, King Leopold II commissioned the creation of Cinquantenaire Park, also called Jubelpark, and its grandiose triumphal arch. Today, you can visit the museums located here or you can rest on the plush lawn and admire the solemn manor houses. The Great Mosque and the Temple of Human Passions can also be found here. Every year on July 21st, on the National Holiday, there is an evening fireworks display. Jubelpark is an ideal spot for everyone.
Art Nouveau was practically born in Brussels. Victor Horta (1861-1947), considered to be Brussels' master of the arts, designed this house and made it his residence until 1919. It was restored in 1991 and is now a museum. Horta is known for his design of buildings using industrial materials such as metal and iron, manipulated to look organic and natural. The city features many similar buildings.
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 events.
This small square has a grassy patch for you to sit and relax. Square de Meeûs features a lovely bronze sculpture of an angel and a bust of Barthélémy de Theux de Meylandt. The angel was created by Jules Lagae in memory of Julien Dillens in 1909. You will also find many cafes and restaurants around the square.
Stop by to see a debate session in action between EU member countries at the European Union Parliament building. The Parliament is home to the only elected body of the European Union; here, members decide important and pressing legislation that impacts the everyday lives of European Union citizens. Witness firsthand the process of lawmaking, where issues like consumer rights, transportation and civic rights take the stage! If you're interested in politics, stop by here to see how this multilateral body functions!
Antoine Wiertzmuseum is a division of the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts (The Royal Museums of Art and History) and is dedicated to the works of Antoine Wiertz (1806-1865). This painter was born in Dinant, studied in Antwerp and in Rome, and only moved to Brussels in the latter part of his life. In Brussels this museum had a gigantic workshop which is now housing this museum. Wiertz really needed a workshop of this size because he saw things big, some of Wiertz's works are 16 meters (52 feet) tall!
With its stately facade, opulent interiors and lush, formal gardens, the Royal Palace is a fitting abode for the offices of the King and Queen of Belgium. The individual rooms are lavishly adorned with crystal chandeliers, gilded details, antique furniture, exquisite artwork, and detailed carvings. Of special note is the artwork that adorns the ceiling of the Mirror Room, composed of over a million beetle carapaces inlaid to form intricate designs. Each summer, the palace is opened to the public; a time-honored tradition that grants access to this symbol of Belgium's thriving monarchy.
The facade of the church consecrated in 1787 was designed by the architects Barré and Guimard.
Leopold Park covers a large, landscaped space on Belliardstraat. With a history that dates back to 1880, the urban park still includes hints of this long, ancient history. Over the years, it has played many roles, starting out as a zoological park, then as a part of the campus for Solvay School of Commerce, and now as a popular public park. Home to a beautiful pond that's sustained by the nearby Maelbeek lake, Leopold Park, or Leopoldspark (Dutch), offers gorgeous views and a cool, shaded place where you can relax and soak up the sun with your family.