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Best Free Sites in Brussels

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Get to know the beautiful city of Brussels without denting your wallet on Sandeman's popular free walking tour. Over two and a half hours, your guide will show you all the major sights and attractions of the city, including Manneken Pis, the Grand Place, Town Hall, the birthplace of the TinTin comic and many more. Along the way, your guide will share all kinds of interesting historical facts and fun anecdotes about the city past and present.

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.

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.

Jean-Felix Hap Park is a beautiful garden park that is located in Etterbeek. The property also includes the ruins of a 16th century castle. In 1804 the mayor of Etterbeek, Albert Joseph Hap, bought the property, which was eventually donated to the city in 1988. There are many benches and tables here to lounge at. Recently, some of the park has been converted in to a educational space that showcases examples of different home gardens with a diversity of plants and native animals.

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 is a traditional working-class neighborhood, dominated by the gargantuan Palais de Justice (constructed in 1866-1883 and until recently the largest building in the world). The Marolles now offers a wide selection of dining establishments and antiques shops. Classy restaurants line up next to smoky bars. The neighborhood is famous for its daily flea market on Place du Jeu-de-Balle, the central square, but arrive early (before 6am!) if you want to pick up the genuine bargains.

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.

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!

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 imposing cathedral 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, while inside 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.

Located in the northern edge of the city, the Botanical Garden of Brussels is a pretty garden that hosts a variety of plants. In 1938, most of the botanicals were moved to the National Botanic Garden, but this urban park still remains a beautiful spot to rest or take a stroll amongst the large trees. The garden still houses 30 of the 52 bronze sculptures that were a part of the park in the 19th Century. Besides the sculptures and fountains, the garden feature a gazebo at its center and has a collection of herbs, carnivorous species and rare and exotic specimens of plants.

Laeken Cemetery was a major burial site for Brussels' upper and middle classes throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The cemetery features fine examples of funerary art of this period. The grounds also feature an original bronze cast of Rodin's famous sculpture The Thinker. Right next to the cemetery is the Church of Our Lady of Laeken, which is also the final resting place of the Belgian royal family.

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