Top Brussels Attractions
The first time you visit Brussels, or any new destination,
the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be
scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get
there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice,
and other information about the top tourist attractions in Brussels
to help with your itinerary planning.
The Grand Place
city center known as the Grand Place is arguable the most magnificent
square in the world. Dating back to the 12th century, the square
is smaller then one might expect. The buildings were constructed
in medieval fashion with decorative gables, gilded facades, and
brilliant gold accents. The Grand Place is an astonishing accomplishment.
Important statesmen owned these buildings. Each competed to outdo
the others. The Grand Place was partially destroyed in 1695 by the
French army. However, the monumental buildings were carefully rebuilt
over the next few years. The history of the Grand Place is represented
in art on display at the Musee de la Ville de Bruxelles.
Other then gazing in awe at the astounding parametric
views, there really is not much else to do while visiting
the Grand Place. A few venders setup small stands in
the square’s center. You’ll find flowers,
snacks, and maybe some souvenirs. Alternatively, you
can get a table at one of the cafes in the square. In
the evening, the illuminated Grand Place is even more
Hotel de Ville
The de Ville is one of the premier buildings located in Brussels’
Grand Place. The de Ville was the town hall dating back
to 1402 and today is the seat of the civic government.
The building’s arched windows and stately tower project a
monumental impression of stability and timelessness. The Hotel de
Ville is decorated with various sculptors including one of St. Michael
slaying a female devil.
When the city’s legislative body is not in session,
guided tours of the Hotel de Ville are available. The
tours last 40 minutes. However, only a few tours operate
per day. Not all tours are provided in English. Therefore,
if is recommended that you plan in advance.
Musee de la Ville de Bruxelles
The Musee de la Ville de Bruxelles wins the prize for being the
most unique structure in Brussels’
Grand Place. The Musee de la Ville de Bruxelles’s dark
and mystifying construction with shimmering gold accents make it
a perfect fit for housing various collections of art focusing on
the diverse history of Brussels and specifically the Grand Place.
With your admission, you are provided with an information brochure
that tells the history behind each piece on display in the museum.
Works of art include paintings, photos, and prints. The combined
collection tells the story of how the Grand Place was constructed,
destroyed, reconstructed, and preserved throughout history. In addition,
there are historic maps and miniature models of the square from
various time periods on display. The Musee de la Ville de Bruxelles
is a masterpiece in its self. A glorious wooden staircase and an
astounding view of the Grand Place is worth the journey inside on
wardrobe is also on display within the Musee de la Ville de
Bruxelles. Miniature replicates of Brussels’ most celebrated
character are dressed in various outfits that include military uniforms,
an Elvis costume, and a leprechaun costume. The actual Mannekin-Pis
wears these costumes on special occasions throughout the year.
|rue de l'Etuve Brussels
a narrow pedestrian walkway a couple blocks away from the Grand
Place is Brussels’ favorite character, the Manneken-Pis.
The Manneken-Pis is a small bronze statue of a gleeful boy urinating.
No one knows exactly when the statue came into existence. However,
some stories date back to the 8th century. The Manneken-Pis has
been vandalized and stolen several times throughout history. During
special occasions, the Manneken-Pis wears various costumes from
his wardrobe at the Musee
de la Ville de Bruxelles.
The nearby town of Bruges is a wonderful retreat from the hustle
and bustle of Brussels. Despite its popularity with tourists, Bruges
is a tiny city with only 45,000 residents. The 13th century cloth-manufacturing
town remains remarkable preserved. Visiting Bruges is like taking
a trip back in time. The narrow cobblestone streets, romantic canals,
glorious parks, and ancient city squares provide the perfect setting
for a relaxing vacation.
Trains depart from Brussels to Bruges every hour. The
trip takes about an hour and stops in Ghent. Buses travel
from the train station to the town center. However,
taking a stroll through the park is the best way to
experience Bruges. On your journey you’ll cross
a medieval bridge and pass along side a romantic swan
filled lake. The lake is called the Minnewater, which
actually translates to “Lake of Love”. Further
along on your journey you’ll come across the Begijnhof
(a commune where religious women known as Begijns once
lived). Today, the Begijnhof is occupied by Benedictine
nuns who try to preserve the Begijn tradition. The area
consists of a series of small white washed houses and
a church enclosed around a beautiful park. A feeling
of tranquility over comes visitors who pass through
A bit north is the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of
Our Lady). It took two centuries (13th-15th) to build
this spectacular church with its spire that reaches
towards the heavens. The Church of Our Lady contains
Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child in addition to
a number of other masterpieces.
has two center squares, the Markt and the Burg,
where you’ll find a number of beautiful gothic buildings in
addition to some fine restaurants. Next to the grand Town Hall in
the Burg is the richly decorated Heilige-Bloedbasiliek. This Romanesque
basilica houses a cloth said to be impregnated with Christ’s
holy blood. The streets connecting the town squares are lined with
shops selling everything from lace to souvenirs. You may also want
to grab some warm Belgium waffles from one of the many street vendors.
Canal tours and horse and buggy rides are available
year-round in Bruges. Visitors can typically see all
the sights in one day. However, we recommend taking
an extra day to relax and soak in the history.
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