A weekend guide to the capital of Belgium
What comes to your mind when think of Brussels? Gourmets will certainly say it is chocolate and Belgian chips, business persons will think of the European Parliament, fans of architecture (particularly Gothic and Baroque) will dream about beautiful buildings. One weekend is enough to feel the atmosphere of that immensely interesting city, so if you feel like having a city break in Europe, choose the capital of Belgium! Check out what is worth to see and visit spending a weekend in Brussels.
Brussels for a weekend - what to see?
La Grand Place – the most beautiful attraction of Brussels
The most beautiful place in Belgium cannot slip your memory when you are planning a trip to Brussels. The city's main square, La Grand Place is surrounded by historic buildings and marvellous townhouses. Walking onto the square from a charming street, you will notice an elegant town house with a Gothic façade decorated with numerous sculptures of saints and Brabantian dukes, as well as Baroque houses with gold ornaments and Maison du Roi, i.e. the current seat of the City Museum. La Grand Place is more impressive in the evening when the setting sun casts orange glow on the buildings, and after dusk during illumination shows, in the course of which they are illuminated with the colours of the rainbow.
Manneken Pis – a nice symbol of Brussels
Near La Grand Place, you can take a photo of an extraordinary fountain. A naked boy peeing into a small pool attracts many tourists, who believe that touching his left arm will bring them good luck. Manneken Pis is often dressed depending on the occasion. And so the little figure has already been a paramedic, a cowboy, a soldier, an astronaut, Elvis Presley, Santa Claus… And there was also a Polish accent – the boy once got a Kraków folk costume. Nearby, there are some less popular, albeit equally cute, figures – Jeanneke Pis and Zinneke Pis, i.e. a peeing girl and a peeing dog.
Brussels – a royal city
Having visited La Grand Place and walked the maze of narrow streets, head for Mont des Arts with a breathtaking view of Brussels. The artistic district, known as the Hill of Art, is full of culture. It is home for Brussels' best attractions – the Royal Castle, the Musical Instruments Museum, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Royal Library. You will surely appreciate the beautiful historic buildings and what they have to offer. For example, Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts is a complex that consists of six museums in which you can see a total of over 20,000 paintings, sculptures and drawings that make up an impressive collection of Belgian art.
Cathedrals in Brussels
When visiting Brussels' best attractions, you should remember about the city's splendid sacred buildings. The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, situated on the Treurenberg Hill, amazes visitors with its façade and two Gothic towers, and resembles the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. When you get inside, you can admire the colourful stained glass windows, Baroque statues of the apostles, an impressive pulpit and monumental church organ. Another cathedral that is a must-see point in your itinerary is one of the most beautiful temples in Belgium. Situated in the centre of Brussels at the charming Grand Sablon square, Église Notre-Dame du Sablon represents Brabantian and radial Gothic. Its interior is equally impressive, and the mighty organ and colourful stained glass windows will enchant every visitor.
Brussels – the European District
The European District is home for most EU institutions, including the European Parliament, in front of which flags of EU Member States wave proudly; the seat of the European Council and European Commission; and the Parlamentarium, a modern facility that tells visitors, in an interesting way, about the history of the European integration and the rules of work in individual institutions. Have a walk amidst modern office buildings and glass houses, and get intrigued by contemporary architecture. If you get bored with the steel structures, go to one of the parks situated near the Parliament. The picturesque Leopold Park is dominated by unique tree species and wildlife that gathers around a charming pond. The nearby Park of the Fiftieth Anniversary is always convenient for rest and relaxation, which is best proven by the scores of Brussels residents who visit it. You cannot fail to notice the spectacular triumphal arch with a beautiful quadriga on top, which was built at the beginning of the last century to commemorate Belgian independence.
Brussels – a city of chocolate, beer and seafood
Belgium is famous for a rich culinary offer, so you must try the delicious local food during your city break. Mer du Nord, the most popular bar in Brussels, is unimpressive at first sight, but after you have had fantastic fish and seafood, the look of an inconspicuous stall becomes unimportant. You must try the excellent fish soup and grilled shrimp. For dessert, go to Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat, which will amaze not only chocolate lovers. When there, you will learn about the history of cocoa tree seeds, see the production of chocolate step by step, and try several kinds of the popular delicacy. Handmade pralines and beautiful confectionery are for you to buy at the Leonidas shop chain. In the evening, you must go for a tour of Brussels' pubs and bars. Did you know that in Delirium Café, situated right in the centre of Brussels, they serve over 2,000 kinds of beer from around the world? The golden drink is the biggest Belgian sanctity, and the beer culture has been entered in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
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