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.
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 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 house of Emile Tassel, a physicist and chemist, is a noteworthy landmark and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This house was built by Victor Horta in 1893 in the Art Nouveau style. Horta's remarkable structure includes iron girders and large windows. The house itself is closed to the public, but even a quick glimpse at its stunning exterior is definitely worth the trip!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Erected on the Place des Palais in Brussels, the Academy Palace was commissioned for the Prince of Ornage in the 19th Century. It was later possessed by King Leopold II who transformed it into the Museum of Contemporary Art. Later, additions of the Royal Academy of Medicine and the Royal academy of Science, Humanities and Fine Arts were also made to the structure. The castle was created by Charles Vander Straeten inspired by Neo-Classical design and features many spacious halls with ornate décor. Being a popular tourist spot, guided tours of the premises are organized regularly.
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.
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.