According to aparentingblog, Brussels is the capital of Belgium and is also often seen as the capital of Europe. Brussels owes this role to the fact that it is the administrative center of the European Union. Within Brussels you will find a large number of European institutions such as the European Commission and the European Parliament. Because, in addition to all European organizations, Brussels is also the headquarters for NATO, the city is the second largest political center in the world after Washington DC. You notice this role in the atmosphere in the city, which is seen as much more businesslike than other Belgian cities such as Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp. Yet Brussels also has more than enough to offer ordinary tourists to make it their own..
Top 10 Things to Do in Brussels
#1. Large market
Since the eleventh century, the Grote Markt has beenthe most central spot in Brussels. During the Nine Years’ War between France and the Great Alliance in 1695, many buildings were lost to bombing. Only the Broodhuis and some walls and the tower of the town hall have survived. Shortly afterwards, the Grote Markt was built again and at a rapid pace, which is reflected in the fact that all the buildings have a bit of the same Flemish-Italian appearance. It used to be not only a place for parties and entertainment. It was on this square where executions were carried out in the form of, for example, the pyre. Now you can find everything in the field of shopping, terraces, restaurants, hotels, nightlife and culture on this Grote Markt.
Every two years, the Grand-Place in Brussels is the setting of a flower carpet created mainly with begonias. In the 1950s, the landscape architect E. Stautemans began to delve into making carpets that mainly consist of Begonias. The choice of Begonias was made because Belgium is the world’s largest producer of this flower. The flower also has fine properties such as robustness, resistance to bad weather and sun and has a long life. This carpet in Brussels often measures 77 x 24 metres. This success has been further developed and is now no longer only created in Brussels, but also in cities such as Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Kortrijk, Hasselt. And even across the Belgian border in major cities in Germany, England, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain. But according to E. Stautermans himself, nowhere is it more beautiful and distinctive than in Brussels.
#2. The Atomium
You like the Atomiumconsider it an icon of Brussels. This special building is located in the Heysel Park in Brussels and was designed by André Waterkeyn. It was designed for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels and is a symbol of the metal iron, which was developing strongly in the 1950s. Due to its popularity, it was decided to leave the building. The height of the building is 102,705 meters, it consists of nine spheres, each with a diameter of 18 meters. These spheres are each exactly 29 meters apart and thus represent the crystal structure of iron. With the elevator it is possible to go to the top sphere and visit the restaurant. The other spheres can be reached by stairs or escalator.
#3. Impressive churches
Brussels has several interesting church buildings. Think of the Basilica of the Koekelberg, which is one of the largest churches in the world. The location of the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart, as the Basilica of Koekelberg is actually called, is a bit more difficult for tourists exploring Brussels on foot. If you do take the trouble to visit this imposing building, make sure to take the elevator up. You will then be treated to an impressive panoramic view of the city of Brussels from a height of fifty meters
Due to its more favorable location, the Cathedral of St. Michel and St. Gudula is more visited by tourists. This cathedral was founded in the early 13th century. There is even said to be archaeological evidence that it dates back to before the 10th century. Concerts by the cathedral now take place regularly. Various exhibitions are also organized. The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula has an organ in the cathedral that has no fewer than 4300 pipes, which are divided over 63 registers, 4 manuals and 1 pedal. Many royal funerals and weddings have already taken place. The last royal wedding to take place there was that of Prince Laurent and Princess Claire in 2003.
#4. The Brussels Comic Strip Route and the Comic Strip Museum
If you take a walk through Brussels, you will notice that a number of cartoon characters adorn the city as frescoes. Since 1993, a number of cartoon characters can be discovered as murals scattered throughout the city. Various Belgian cartoonists from, among others, Suske en Wiske, Tintin, Asterix en Obelix and Guust Flater can be seen on various walls of buildings. The route of the Brussels comic strip walk goes along about 31 walls throughout the city.
In addition to the comic strip walk, you can also visit the Comic Strip Museum. This museum is entirely devoted to the phenomenon of comic strips and specifically the role played by Belgian cartoonists. The comics museum is of course an ideal place to visit if you are visiting Brussels with children. Make no mistake, it is not a museum aimed specifically at children. The Comic Strip Museum is interesting for all ages.
#5. Manneken Pis
The capital of Belgium is of course known for its world famous ‘Manneken Pis’. This statue of a peeing boy is located in the center of Brussels on the corner of the Stoofstraat and the Eikstraat. The figurine has already been damaged or even removed before in its history, only to be found again, whether or not in its entirety. In 1817 the statue was removed and was found under some rubble. All the pieces were put together and a mold was made from it. This created the image as we know it today. The famous statuette already has an equally famous wardrobe. It was and is decorated for special occasions. The entire wardrobe of about 700 pieces can be seen in the Stedelijk Museum Het Broodhuis on the Grote Markt.
#6. View over the city
In Brussels there are two places where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city for free. The Mont des Arts is quite centrally located and in our opinion shows one of the most beautiful pictures of Brussels: a piece of park, some beautiful old facades and in the distance (if the weather is good) the Basilica of the Koekelberg.
A place that offers a more panoramic view is the Poelaertplein. Because this square is located on top of a hill and has no buildings on the western side, you have a great view of Brussels from here. With the Lift of the Marolles located here you can easily go down. You will then end up in the Marolles district. This is seen as the most authentic district of Brussels. It is well worth a walk.
#7. Cinquantenaire Park
The Cinquantenaire Park is a large city park that is located about one and a half kilometers from the historic center. That is fine on foot (twenty minutes walk), but you can also go there by metro. Then get off at metro station Merode. The Cinquantenaire Park can rightly be called an impressive and worth seeing park. There are several buildings and pavilions. It houses, among other things, the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, which was founded in 1948 to study and preserve the artistic and cultural heritage of Belgium, the Great Mosque of Brussels, which is the seat of the Islamic Cultural Center of Belgium and the Triumphal Arch that was built in 1905. was completed with eight statues depicting the other provinces at the foot.
Autoworld is an absolute must-visit if you are a car enthusiast. The car collection on display here is quite wide. Enjoy well-known classics such as the Citroën CX, the Renault 4 or the Ugly Duckling. Be entranced by rare collector’s items that show their beauty to the public in excellent condition.
#8. The Royal Palace of Brussels and the Museum of Emperor Charles
The Royal Palace is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Brussels. In this beautiful palace, the Belgian king fulfills his function and receives guests. The king does not live here, but in Laeken in Belvédère Castle. The palace dates from about 1826, but was adapted to the wishes of King Leopold I after the Belgian Revolution in 1865. After his death, King Leopold II had other plans. The surface of the palace had meanwhile doubled, but not everything was finished yet. King Albert then made his adjustments, after which the last change for Queen Fabiola was in the hall of mirrors. It is now used for large receptions. The interior still contains pieces from the time of Leopold I and partly from Napoleon and William I.
The Museum of Emperor Charles V is part of the palace. This beautiful museum on the Coudenberg contains many graves and excavations, as well as many art objects, embroideries, printed books, sculptures, glasses and paintings by Rubens, Titian and Bruegel, among others. A number of parts of this former palace can be visited underground. The cellars of the residential area, for example, are located under Koningsstraat.
#9. Musee Magritte Museum
The Belgian artist René Magritte is a household name among lovers of surrealist art. His style is characterized by showing a metamorphosis, in which one object changes into another. Sometimes he painted things that are impossible in other respects. A number of his paintings would nowadays be called a ‘mindfuck’. For example, the series of houses at night, with a clear sky above in daylight. A world famous work by Magritte is “La trahison des images”. It is mainly the caption under the image of a pipe that has brought global fame: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe).
In the Musée Magritte Museum you will get to know the work of this special artist. The museum is part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. As far as we are concerned, the Magritte Museum is an absolute highlight among the many museums in Brussels.
#10. The Grand Sablon antique market
This Grand Sablon district is known for its abundance of antique shops, couturiers, restaurants and chocolatiers
. Every week there is a fantastic antique market here between all kinds of antique shops and shops with the most delicious pastries. Nearby are the Lieve Vrouwekerk and the Sablon church with its impressive picturesque garden with statues. The antiques market is held all year round on Saturdays 9am – 6pm and Sundays 9am – 2pm.