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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!
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.
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!
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.
Brussels Central Train Station is a popular station located right in the heart of Brussels. It's just a few minutes' walk to sites such as Grand Place, The Beaux Arts Museum, and the Sablon. In it are small snack stores, a few dining facilities, a pharmacy and a news-stand. Outside the station, you'll find bus services, an adjoining metro facility and a queue of taxis just outside the doors. There is a handy luggage storage facility provided and a network of private lockers for smaller bags. Trains operating here connect to Brussels two other major train stations: Brussels North, in the direction of Zaventem Airport, and Brussels South for connections to the Thalys or Eurostar.
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.
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-renowned. 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 Column of Congress was designed in 1850 by architect Joseph Poelaert, who later also built the Palais de Justice. The column is 47 meters (154 feet) high, and on top there is a 25 meter (82 feet) high statue of Léopold I, the country's first king. This column was erected in commemoration of the National Congress who established the Belgian constitution in 1831. At the foot of the column is the eternal flame, in remembrance of the victims of the two World Wars. In the column itself is the grave of the Unknown Soldier. Every November 11th (Remembrance Day) there is a ceremony here in the presence of the Royal Family.
In the shadow of Grand Place, a small passageway gives access to one of the most pleasant places in the city. Rue des Bouchers is a lovely narrow street that is lined with restaurants. On display lie mussels, lobsters and oysters, all nicely decorated, awaiting hungry tourists. The restaurant doors are always open and, at the first sign of sun, tables and chairs line the alley.
Architect Léon Suys designed the stately Brussels Stock Exchange building in 1873. Its classic style is characterized by six Doric columns in front of the building and a myriad of sculptures representing trade at sea and domestic trade. Recently, the Brussels Stock Exchange merged with those of Paris and Amsterdam to become EuroNext. You must make an appointment if you want to visit the building, and groups of 20 or more will be accompanied by a guide. Admission is free.