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 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.
The Church of Our Blessed Lady of Sablon adorns the historic heart of Brussels with its striking late Gothic architecture, featuring a Brabantine Gothic facade and interior Baroque chapels. Built as a remarkable cross-shaped structure with a 26-meter (85.30 feet) high ceiling, the church also features lovely stained glass paintings that were completed in the 19th Century. The construction of the church commenced in 1304, a year after the Noble Serment of Crossbowmen were recognized as a guild and granted a small plot in Sablon. The church grew to the miraculous entity it is today when one Beatrijs Soetkens brought the idol of Virgin Mary from Antwerp and placed it in the church. Since then, the church is associated with the religious procession of Ommegang, where the statue of Mary is carried through the streets of Brussels once a year.
Built at the behest of Leopold I and designed by the noted architect, Joseph Poelaert, the Palace of Justice is reputed to be one of the largest buildings constructed in the 19th Century. An ambitious project of monumental proportions, the Palace of Justice was completed in 1883, 17 years after construction first began. The architectural style is eclectic, blending neo-baroque elements with classical and ancient styles. Eight courtyards ensure ample supply of fresh air and natural light, while its fluted columns, high ceilings and grand stairways highlight the awe-inspiring proportions of its design. The Palace of Justice continues to serve as the city's main judicial center and is also known as the Law Courts of Brussels.
The former residence of Van Eetvelde, also called Hôtel van Eetvelde, is a beautiful townhouse that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by Victor Horta between 1895 and 1898, this house exemplifies the Art Nouveau style that the architect helped establish. Marvel at the narrow building's use of light and curving lines that creates a unique style.
The trendy Xavier Hufkens Gallery showcases contemporary artwork by national and international artists. Depending on the current display, you'll discover everything from bizarre oil paintings to unique sculptures to a Convertible Fat Car! This delightful and diverse gallery is well worth a visit.
Matongé is a Brussels district that is named after its namesake Kinshasa neighborhood in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This popular neighborhood has over 40 nations represented here. Established in the 1950s, it is a popular area for locals as well as tourists for its specialized shops, restaurants and more. It is probably the best place in town to get a glimpse into the African culture through its various craft shops, restaurants, fashion stores, music stores, bookshops and more.
Place du Trône or the Troonplein is a bustling square. It is near to many popular spots such as the Parc de Bruxelles (Brussels Park), Palace of the Nation (Palais de la Nation) and Royal Palace of Brussels. You will also find many cafes around this square.
Place du Luxembourg is a city square located in Brussels. It is a popular hangout for locals as there are many bars and restaurants, banks and retail outlets at the square. One of the prime highlights of the square is John Cockerill's statue.
Egmont Palace was constructed in the 16th-century and completely renovated in the 18th-century by the wealthy Arenberg family. The Belgian government welcomes the international heads of government here and organizes high-level international meetings. For most of us, this building is well-known for its beautiful architecture. The Palace is not accessible to the public, only the gardens and the neighboring Egmont Parc can be visited.
Petit Sablon Square, also called Place du Petit Sablon, is a beautiful square and garden that was built in the late 1800s. The square is surrounded by 48 statues symbolizing medieval guilds, giving you an insight into how people used to live. This lovely landscaped garden also features a fountain with the figures of the Count of Egmont and Count of Horn.