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. Gudulal 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.
The old Mont-des-Arts (Arts Hill) was a series of stairs bordered by statues and trees, connecting uptown (Place Royale) and downtown (Grand Place). In 1958, it was reshaped and two enormous buildings arrived - the Congress Centre and the Royal Library Albert 1, better known as Albertina, where nearly 4 million books are housed. The Belgian state has also endowed the site with scientific, economic and cultural institutions, such as the Rijksarchief (National Archive) and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. From the French terrace garden you have a beautiful view of the city center. Under the archway there is a large clock with moving statuettes. The chimes in the clock play by turns - following Belgian tradition - a Flemish and a French song.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vauxhall, Brussels or Waux-Hall, as it was called, is a historical entertainment venue in Brussels that was designed by Alexandre Bultos in 1781. This venue was known for hosting a plethora of events from the fields of music, dance and drama and was a popular entertainment destination amongst the locals. It was inspired by the Vauxhall Garden in London which was also used as a public entertainment venue. Today, the property is owned by municipality and is used as a venue for several art and cultural events.