Brussels is the capital not only of Belgium but also of the European Union. In my opinion almost all capitals don’t show the real lifestyle of the country, as for example small Ghent or tiny Bruges. Brussels is Belgium’s main economic and educational spot, what let to define it as a cosmopolitan city full of contrasts. Nevertheless it attracts tourists with it’s historical monuments and various world-class museums. Interesting to mention is that the city is bilingual, all signs and the name of the streets are written in French and Dutch. The majority speaks French though, so they don’t even understand Dutch. Curious and sad at the same time, the country is divided into two parts, so many of it’s citizens can’t communicate with each other. But let’s talk about beautiful parts of Brussels because there are plenty of them!
If you are planning to visit one of the Belgian cities just for a weekend check out my useful packing list for a weekend!
Must see in Brussels
The main touristic spot is the city’s main plaza Grand Place and it’s right in the heart of Brussels’ Old Town. The square is full with magnificent architecture in barock style. Moreover it’s considered as one of the most beautiful places in the world. No wonder, the square is surrounded by outstanding buildings decorated with rich gold ornates and gables. The most recongizible architectural masterpiece is the Town Hall, built in the 15th century. The architecture of the beautiful Grand Place reflects the diverse culture and society of Belgium, presenting the influences of different artistic styles. Here you also have a possibility to visit various museums, the prices for the tickets are mostly around 7-9€. If you need a map of the city, don’t buy it in the Info Hall, just go to the little chocolate museum and take one for free.
You’ve probably heard a lot about the famous urinating little boy of Brussels: “Manneken Pis”. I did it too. My expectations to see the symbol of the rebellious spirit of the City of Brussels were not so high, because what other country would actually use a pissing little boy as a symbol of the city? Moreover my hope to understand the meaning of Belgium’s most famous statue were immediately gone when I saw the microscopic bronze sculpture: 61cm.
Must try in Brussels: Beer and waffles
Next to the marvelous “monument” is a street full of delicious Belgian waffles. The tempting aroma will lead you to the right direction, where you can find a huge variety of these sugary baked goods from 1 to 10 Euros. The price doesn’t play a main role, all Belgian waffles taste delightful. It’s like Belgian chocolate, the taste will never disappoint you. You can get waffles either hot or cold and even with different toppings like fruits, chocolate, caramel, nuts and more and more of other exquisite extras.
Belgium is famous all over the world for it’s tremendous beer culture. Since the Middle Ages Belgian folk take it’s reputation so seriously, they even designed customized shapes of the glasses for each beer to enhance most of the flavor. Belgians brew with love and passion numerous variety of beer tastes and in 2002 the world discovered Westvleteren, the best beer in the whole world. It’s a very exclusive beer, made by monks. They brew only enough to support themselves, they don’t see it as a business. Probably that’s why it tastes so good. Nevertheless if you have affinity for beers, you should definitely visit Delirium Café in Brussels. It’s popular for having over 3.000 different brands of beer from over 60 countries. This unbelievable record found it’s place even in The Guinness Book of Records. The bar with the pink elephant symbol seems to be unimposing from the outside, but inside you can get lost: The bar splits into three gigantic levels. Even if you don’t like beer, it’s interesting to go there. I’m not much of a beer drinker and I could still enjoy one of the Belgian beverages, namely a grapefruit beer. It’s always about learning a new culture and be a part of it for a moment.
Must visit in Brussels before you leave
Brussels is hiding a diverse amount of historical treasures, I could write an infinite number of pages describing it’s breathtaking beauty. I will introduce you to a few, that left impression on me. The Mont des Artes is an architecturally imposing complex of monuments with a wide gorgeous garden. From there you can enjoy a great view on the Grand Place and the historic City of Brussels. Close to this magical garden you can find the influential achievements of the great Belgian architect Victor Horta. His unique design now regarded as iconic examples of the Art Nouveau style. Horta’s architectural masterpieces with borrowed motifs from nature are even featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. You can also visit the Horta museum, which remains a magnificent scene of a fairytale.
I’ve spent only one day in Brussels, that showed me both of it’s sides: a rough, grey city and a marvelous historical pearl. To enjoy the city to it’s fullest you would need at least a weekend for it. The best decision is to combine it with a trip to Belgium, so you can see most of the Belgian culture and it’s meaningful sights.