Brussels, the capital of Belgium, lies in the center of the Kingdom of Belgium. It is the seat of NATO and several institutions of the European Union, and because of this it is often referred to as the capital of Europe. Naturally, it offers a lot of attractions and points of interest that should not be missing from your “bucket” list. Read our article and discover the most beautiful monuments and interesting places in Brussels.
On the Grande-Place
We will start our tour of Brussels at the Grande-Place. It is located in the very heart of the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is often referred to as one of the most beautiful squares in the world . The main dominant feature of the square is the town hall with a 96-meter tower, on which is a statue of St. Michael, the patron saint of Brussels.
Budova Bourse of Brussels
Basically, right next to it, we find another important square in Brussels, the Place de la Bourse. As the name suggests, the beautiful building of the Brussels Stock Exchange (Bourse of Brussels) stands on the square, which is also worth seeing. Although the stock exchange was moved in 2015 and the building is now being repaired, the work should be completed in 2023 and a museum of Belgian beer should be created there.
Tip: if you’re already heading in this direction, it’s worth walking a little further, up to the church of St. Catherine .
Each of you probably has Brussels associated with the statue of a peeing boy (Manneken Pis), which has become one of the symbols of the city. But you may not know that he is not alone in the city. In addition to the boy, there is also a statue of a peeing girl (Jaenneke Pis) and even a dog (Het Zinneke). An interesting fact is that the little boy has over 950 costumes in which he is dressed on various occasions.
Park Mont des Arts
After you’ve seen the peeing sculptures around the Grande-Place, head to Mont des Arts (Kunstberg). The “Mountain of Art” will offer you a beautiful garden, a view of the historic city center and the Palace of Charles of Lorraine, where the National Library of the Kingdom of Belgium exhibits. At the entrance to the park, note the equestrian statue of King Albert I and his literal counterpart, the statue of Queen Elisabeth I.
To the museums via Královské náměstí
If you walk all the way up through the park, you will reach the Koningsplein (Place Royale). The rectangular square will provide a view of the church of Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg and the statue of Godefroy of Bouillon, who was one of the leaders of the First Crusade. Several major museums await visitors near the Place Royale. E.g. in the > Royal Museum of Fine Arts < you can admire painting collections from the 15th-21st centuries. Over 1,200 musical instruments are housed in the > Musical Instruments < museum and history buffs will be delighted by the > Belvue < museum.
Royal Palace in Brussels
After the artistic tour, we will move to the Royal Palace, which is definitely one of the most beautiful monuments and interesting places in Brussels. The palace was rebuilt at the end of the 18th century due to a fire. and is the official residence of the King of Belgium . However, the king only performs work duties here, and stays with his family in Laeken Castle . If you see a flag hanging over the palace, then it means that the king is present in Belgium.
Tip: don’t forget to visit the adjacent Brussels Park , where parrots will fly above your head.
Let’s take a look at the Parlamentarium
We will take a break from the historical monuments for a while and take a look at the Parlamentarium. It is no secret that Brussels is the seat of several institutions of the European Union and the Parlamentarium is the visitor center of the European Parliament . During the interactive tour, you will learn all the interesting information about the creation and principle of the functioning of the EU. The advantage is free entry, but because of the corona virus, prior > reservation < is required.
Tip: the European Commission is also located in Brussels. Its headquarters can be found in a building called Berlaymont , which is shaped like the letter X.
Parc du Cinquantenaire with the Arc de Triomphe
One of our favorite places in Brussels is the Parc du Cinquantenaire (Jubelpark). It is not so much the park itself as the triumphal arch of the Arcade du Cinquantenaire , which was supposed to be a celebration of 50 years of Belgian independence. However, the construction was completed only 25 years later in 1905, so it reminds us of the 75-year anniversary. In addition to the triumphal arch, there are three museums in the park, of which > World of Cars < is worth mentioning .
Basilicas, cathedrals, churches
Church buildings are always a safe bet, and the capital of Europe is proud of several interesting churches. We were captivated, for example, by the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel and St. Gudula , located not far from the Grande-Place. You shouldn’t miss the Sacré-Coeur Basilica , which is one of the largest churches in the world and was also built to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence. However, you will have to go a little further from the center to visit it.
Atomium – top attraction of Brussels
We will stay outside the center and go to the most interesting attraction of Brussels, which is the Atomium. The structure, in the shape of a basic crystalline grid of iron, was built as a symbol of the Expo 58 international exhibition, but the public liked it so much that it became the main attraction of Brussels and the whole of Belgium . Nine spheres reaching a height of 102 meters contain several exhibitions, a panoramic restaurant and a beautiful view of the city. If you don’t want to spend on the > entrance fee <, it’s definitely worth seeing the building from the outside.
Tip: right next to Atomium there is a theme park > Mini-Europe < containing over 350 models of famous European buildings. The Royal Castle of Laeken is also nearby.
Parking and public transport
As in all big cities, a public transport ticket will come in handy in Brussels as well. As always , the easiest way is to use the metro , which will take you where you need to go. The Brussels metro has 4 lines and you can buy a ticket either at the machines at the entrance to the metro, or you can use a contactless payment card on the “tap and ride” principle. An all-day ticket costs 8 euros , a single ride costs 2.6 euros. When using a contactless card, tickets are 0.5 euros cheaper. You can find more information on the official > website <.
Parking is also a key issue in major cities and can be quite a problem in Brussels. The whole city is one big ecological zone , into which you can only enter if your car meets the emission limits and you have it registered in advance, or you pay considerable fees for entry. Otherwise, you face a fine of 350 euros. At first glance, this may discourage you, but luckily there are parking lots > park and ride < where you can leave your car and continue by metro. The price of parking is 1 euro/hour, but if you buy a public transport ticket, all-day parking costs only 3 euros.