From museums to monuments, from parks to shopping boutiques, Brussels is a charming city of contrasts. The place offers enormous amount of diversity when it comes to things to do and places to see. No wonder that Brussels, the capital city of Belgium is quite popular with travellers. While the list of places to see in Brussels is quite exhaustive, we bring you some must see places in Brussels. After all, a tourist has to start somewhere… right…
So the first place on our list is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, the Grand Place. Built as a merchants market in the 13th century, this place was later used for the execution of prisoners, but now, this town square has turned into an amazingly beautiful tourist site, with many cultural festivals being held here throughout the year. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Grand Place houses three main buildings – Town Hall, House Kings and Guli House.
Next is Brussels Town Hall, which is situated inside the Grand Place as mentioned above. This striking gothic style town hall was built by architect Jan Van Ruysbrueck in the 1400s and is adorned with arched windows and interesting sculptures. At the top of the tower of the building is a statue of St. Michael who is shown as destroying demons.
Originally constructed for the Brussels World Fair held in 1958, the Atomium is a glistening 335 feet high model of an atom. Designed by engineer Andre Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak, Atomium is made of steel and chrome and comprises nine 18 metre diameter steel spheres connected by tubes, all of which contain exhibits and other public spaces. It is an accurate depiction of an iron molecule that has been magnified 165 billion times. Though CNN named it Europe’s most bizarre building, but for the people of Brussels, it was constructed to symbolise the new atomic age.
Palais Royal or The Royal Palace
The official palace of the King and Queen of the Belgians is situated right in the centre of the nation’s capital Brussels. Though not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Castle of Laeken (on the outskirts of Brussels), but you will always know if the Royals are in the country when you see the Belgian flag flying on top of the building. The building is a highlight of Neo-Classical architecture and is situated in front of Brussels Park. The palace is open to the public during the summer months.
The Belgian centre for Comic Strip Art
Cartooning is one of the biggest passion of the people of Belgium, and paying homage to this passion is the Belgian Comic Strip Centre that chronicles the history of Belgian comics. Housed in a former department store in Brussels’ business district, it exhibits examples of comic strips in French, Dutch and English. Tintin and the Smurfs are the most famous Belgian comic strip characters but the museum also displays comic artwork from over 670 cartoonists, covering a wide range such as science fiction, Wild West, crime and politics. Built on three levels, the museum also has a shop, research library, and a restaurant.
The last and one of the favourite tourist hotspot is Manneken-Piss, or the statue of a young boy taking a piss. This statue, which is often seen as the perfect representative of the irreverent Belgian humour, has been amusing tourists at the junction of Rue de l’Étuve/Stoofstraat and Rue du Chêne/Eikstraat since 1619. There are many stories related to whose statue this is, and one such story is that of a small boy named Julian. People say, the boy is releasing a fuse on a bomb by pissing on it – a heroic act indeed! True or not, but this small statue is often clothed in various costumes. As an owner of more than 900 different costumes, you can often spot Julian in various trendy outfits such as Santa or as the Mayor of Brussels.
Pic credit: Hermenpaca, Juska Wendland and Wing1990hk