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.
This family brewery is home to Lambic, Faro, Kriek, and Gueuze beers. Since Cantillon's founding in 1900, the brewing process has remained the same; the brewery, similarly, has maintained its original charm and decoration as well. You can experience all the stages of the beer creation process from smelling the original aromas of the ingredients to the bottling of the beers and the eventual tasting.
Housed under the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the Museum of Old Masters, as the name suggests, presents a vast collection of art from the 15th through the 18th century of French and Dutch origin. This museum houses painting from the Flemish Renaissance and Baroque periods, including works by Bosch, Rubens, Van Dyck, and many more. There is a museum shop and a cafe on the premises.
Built for King Leopold in 1873, these sparkling glass and steel domes border the Royal Palace of Laeken. Greenhouses were an innovative construction of the time and these are particularly extraordinary because of their Art Nouveau style. These greenhouses have an enormous range of rare flowers and plants. While the attraction's exterior can be visited year-round, visitors can only enter the greenhouses' interior and view the plants for a short period in spring.
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.
This cyclist's association was founded in 1992. It not only offers bikes for hire, but the group has built up a great reputation with their guided city biking tours. There are 11 different circuits ranging from Treasures of the Art Nouveau and Brussels, greenest of cities to Brussels by Night, each generally lasting three to four hours. Tours can be arranged for groups. Information on prices can be obtained from their website. They also give Bikes on rent for all those who wish to explore the place on their own.
This cinema is among the most beloved in Brussels. Specializing in screening classic films, it's truly a gem in the city for movie-lovers. With its five screens, it provides variety without being too big. It is one of the venues that hosts the Brussels Festival of Short Films in April and May.
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!
From dinosaur fossils to live tarantulas to rare gems, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences Museum explores the natural wonders of our fascinating planet. The permanent galleries are unique and interesting, including a Gallery of Evolution, Insects Hall, and Minerals Hall. In addition to the permanent displays, the museum features several temporary exhibitions throughout the year, including interactive exhibits. This museum also serves as a research facility.
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.