We decided to visit Brussels during our trip to Cologne. The distance between the two cities is not big, so you can plan to visit the capital of Belgium during a one-day trip. We arrived to Brussels by train. It’s a beautiful November day, golden leaves and sunny golden Autumn in full swing. We started our trip with the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral. Here is the list of must-see sights we recommend in Brussels:
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
The church is dedicated to St. Michael and St. Gudula, who are the patron saints of Brussels. Personally, I’m a fun of French Gothic style, so this Catholic Cathedral was on my to-see-list from the beginning. Towers, windows,ornaments and sculptures; it’s simply beautiful.
The Grand Place
The Grand Place, called as well Grote Markt, is the central square of Brussels. That is as well the place where you are going to find the city’s Town Hall and guildhalls. The whole area was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. And indeed, it is worth seeing. Every two years in August, a huge flower carpet is made on the Grand Place. But even if you are visiting Brussels in November like us, don’t worry, the place is still pretty amazing.
Manneken Pis is probably the most recognizable symbol of Brussels. Honestly, I have no idea why a small bronze sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating became so popular. It is said that the sculpture embodies the sense of humor and independence of mind of the people of Brussels. Seriously? Public urinating? Funny? That’s all you’ve got? As the Manneken Pis became a symbol of the town, many legends about the sculpture started to pop out. I won’t quote any here but directly go to some actual fun – the tradition of dressing Manneken Pis in different costumes. The costumes are changed sever times a week! That makes a hell of a wardrobe with around one thousand different outfits. You can see them in a permanent exhibition in the City Museum. Dressing Manneken Pis in Dracula costume or as Bolivian Diablada was indeed amusing.
If you are already in the Old Town of Brussels, trying waffles is a must. There are many opportunities to try local waffles, one of the most popular places is just at the corner close to Manneken Pis.
Royal Palace in Brussels
The Royal Palace in Brussels is the official palace of the royal couple, though it is not used as a royal residence. The first building was constructed in the 11th century, but the façade was only build in 1904. The palace is located close to a park, where you can take a break and enjoy a beautiful weather.
Brussels is considered to be the capital of the European Union, so the European Quarter and the EU institutions buildings should be on your must-see-sights in Brussels. My personal favorite is definitely the Berlaymont building, which houses the headquarters of the European Commission. Take a walk through the quarter and feel the smell of the big politics.
One of the most exciting part during our city breaks is actually simply walking through the city streets. The things that one sees on the way can’t usually be found in any tour guides, so be surprised. The capital of Belgium has really a lot to offer.
Atomium was constructed for Expo 1958 and it became a landmark of Brussels. The stainless steel spheres, the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal… All looks very spectacular. Though, for me there was no need to get into Atomium’s sphere to appreciate this modern construction from Polak. Instead I headed to the Mini-Europe miniature park. (Yeah, I’m using “I,” Dario as a physicist was of course more eager to see Atomium than miniatures.)
Mini-Europe Miniature Park
Mini-Europe is located at the foot of Atomium and exhibits 350 miniature reproductions of monuments from 80 cities in the European Union. I must admit I really enjoyed it. The miniature park is closed in Winter, so please check the dates before planning your trip there.
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