See" Landmarks & Attractions Of Brussels - The Places To See During Your Brussels Holiday
It all begins here – Brussels' most distinguished feature
started life as a cobbled marketplace in around the 12th century. However, many of the
grandiose buildings that make up such a striking part of the Grand Place today weren’t
erected until the 18th century.
The guildhalls that give Grand Place its identity were
part of trade societies formed around the 13th century – notably butchers,
bakers and cloth makers. Each guildhall is distinguished by certain unique
Perhaps the most admired part of Grand Place is the
magnificent Hotel de Ville, which was completed in 1444 by architect Jan von
Ruysbroeck. Since then, it’s been described as a gothic masterpiece and one of
the most splendid sights in Belgium. Inside, you can take a tour and browse over
some wonderful artwork and tapestry from the 15th century. Take in the
breathtaking majesty of the conference room boasting ancient tapestry and the
“Aldermens Room” where even today the Mayor holds certain large meetings.
The final masterpiece of Hotel de Ville is its exquisite belfry – described as
one of the finest in the world. Now, the Hotel de Ville is the town centre of
The Maison du Roi was built in 1536 by (then) Spanish
rulers and now houses a fine collection of art, tapestries and Manneken Pis from
the 16th century. Meaning “Kings House” Maison du Roi is now the setting for
Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles – a collection of medieval art. If you’re
planning on seeing a number of museums during your stay in Brussels then you may
benefit from a “Brussels Card” which offers free entry to 30 museums for 30
Euros – the holder also gets unlimited access on public transport and
discounts on various additional attractions and eateries.
Le Pigeon is known as being the home of Victor Hugo, the
famous French writer in 1852 after he fled France following the French
insurrection and La Maison des Boulangers was built by the guild of bakers – a
testimony to their power and wealth at the time. Maison des Tailleurs is made
famous by the statue of patron saint St Barbara – this was the guild of
One of the best experiences of visiting Brussels is to
enjoy a coffee or beer at one of the cafes set within Grand Place and watch the
bustle of tourists potter along the cobbled streets while viewing the grandeur.
If you intend on having something to eat in and around
Grand Place then there’s no shortage of options. If you’re in the mood for
traditional Belgian fare, try t’Kelderke which serves up the usual offering of
moules et frites at reasonable prices. Katya’s Kitchen is also an
interesting establishment serving up a variety of cuisine including Asian and
more traditional Belgian dishes. There are other restaurants within a stone's
throw of Grand Place so if these don’t take your fancy simply take to the
streets until something does.
Try coming back to see Grand Place at night – the busy atmosphere and night
lights make it a truly enriching experience.
Parc du Cinquantenaire
Beautiful, tree-lined Parc du Cinquantenaire was built as a
tribute to the golden celebrations for Belgian independence in 1880. The famous
Arc de Triomphe landmark was completed several years after the park was built.
The park houses the Musée de l’Armee which is a museum
describing Belgium's military history and includes various artefacts stretching
back over two centuries. The gateway into the city is marked by the Central
Archway. Interestingly, the park is also home to “Autoworld” which has
hundreds of classic cars on display. Also worth a visit is Musée du
Cinquantenaire which has international artefacts from civilisations dating back
to the 15th century.
Aside from the many features of Parc du Cinquantenaire
it’s also a very pleasant place to take a relaxing stroll – indeed it’s one
of the most loved places by the locals who come in droves during weekends and
Once upon a time the Quartier Royal was the home of Belgian
Royalty, though this is no longer the case (the Royal family are now situated in
Laeken). Even so, the Quartier Royal are grand and handsome grounds with an
eventful history – including being utterly destroyed by a fire in 1731 before
being rebuilt by the 19th century.
Stretching over a mile long, Rue Royal runs from Quartier
Royal to the pleasant Jardin Botanique and is a pleasant way of seeing some fine
architecure. The Quartier Royal also houses the Palais Royal, Palais de la
Nation and Palais des Academies. The Palais Royal remains the largest of the
palaces set within Quartier Royal and boasts a fine throne room, long gallery
displaying ceiling paintings and the hall of mirrors. It’s open to the public
between July and September and is well worth the visit.
The attractive Parc de Bruxelles has some elegant fountains
and is lined with trees – the park was originally conceived in the 17th
Parc de Bruxelles
Cathedrale Sts Michel et Gudule
This grand cathedral took over three centuries to complete
– work actually began in 1225, under Henry I (Duke of Brabant) and was
completed around the 16th century under Charles V. Saint Gudule was the 7th
century saint who the Cathedral was named after along with St Michael (Patron
Saint of Brussels) whose statue can be seen in the middle of the structure.
The “Last Judgement” window is an exquisite feature of the Cathedral –
indeed, it’s the first sight that stands out as you approach. This interesting
gothic styled institution is located on Parvis St.Gudule.
Palais de Justice
Completed in 1883, the Palais de Justice was designed by
Joseph Poelaert and remains one of the distinctive constructions in Belgium, and
unlike many other landmarks still functions as originally intended – in
this case the highest of Brussels’ law courts. The Palais de Justice is
situated along Place Poelaert. Very near the Palais de Justice are Les Marolles which are stuffed with little cafes and tiny shops. For some unusual bargains
make your way to the flea market on Sunday mornings on Place du Jeu de Balle.
On rue aux Laines is the unmistakable sight of Palais
d’Egmont – originally built in the 16th century, the palace took on further
historical significance in the 1970’s as the place where Great Britain
officially became a member of the EEC.
Musée d’Art Moderne
The multi-storey building that houses this museum is almost
as interesting as the exhibits inside – as many of the levels are underground.
The museum is located on Place Royale and as the name suggests, includes works
of art from modern talent (19th century onwards). Also worth a visit is Musée d’Art Ancien - displaying art dating as far back as the 15th century and
includes a pleasant sculpture garden that’s a delight to visit. Musée d’Art
Ancien is on rue de la Regence.
Le Sablon District
Known as the region where Brussels splits into two (the
upper and lower region) the Place du Grand Sablon is a pleasant area with a
magnificent fountain and the Gothic church of Notre-Dame du Sablon. This prosperous
region of Brussels is noted for housing top restaurants, bars and cafes, so
stop by and enjoy a bite.
Aside from visiting the gothic church (completed
around the mid 1500’s) the Place du Petit Sablon must be seen – these
delightful gardens are a pleasure to wander in. Sit on the many benches
available, peruse the statues and take some pictures of the fountains built to
honour Counts Egmont & Hornes.
The Atomium (located in Heysel) is one of the most
distinguishing landmarks of Brussels – the structure represents a giant molecule and was
constructed in 1958 when Brussels held the world fair. It’s well worth a trip
to see this interesting building.
This leafy suburb situated north of Brussels is the Belgian
equivalent of Windsor – it is the residence of the Belgian royalty and is
noted for it’s abundance of greenery and picture-perfect parklands.