Brussels is not only the capital city of Belgium, it is the home of the European Commission and European Council and the de facto capital of the European Union, though its history dates back over a thousand years, with the first documented evidence of its existence dating back 989 CE. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the best attractions in this wonderful city.
Grand Place-Grote Markt
The central square of Brussels is the most recognisable landmark in Brussels and was made UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. The square itself is surrounded by impressive architecture including the king’s house, that was renovated in the Gothic revival style in 1987. It currently houses the Museum of Belgium. There are also architectural gems known as the Houses of The Grand Square that date back to the 17th Century, with many being renovated or modernised in the late 19th Century. The pick of these is probably the House of the Dukes of Brabant.
When I first visited Brussels I was struck by how many figurines of a small smiling boy urinating I saw in all the gift shops. As it turns out they are miniature copies of Belgium’s most famous resident, the Manneken Pis. Designed and put in place in 1619, the Manneken is the symbol of Brussels and supposedly shows their sense of humour and independence of mind. It is located yards from Grand Place-Grote Markt and is fairly easy to miss because despite the statue’s fame, it is only 61cm tall. There have been several theft attempts, and today the Manneken on display is a copy, made in the 1960s. The original resides in the Museum of the City of Brussels.
This iconic landmark building was made for the World Fair 1958 and depicts nine iron atoms in the shape of a body-centred cubic unit cell of an Iron Crystal, magnified 165 billion times. It was originally the pavilion for the World fair but today operates as a museum with six of the spheres accessible to the public. When built, it contained the fastest lift in the world which could elevate 22 people to eth top of the building (103m) in 23 seconds. It was only supposed to stand for six months, but it proved popular and became a permanent fixture in the Brussels skyline. Through neglect, the building had become dilapidated and it was overhauled, replacing the original aluminium cladding with fittingly, stainless steel. If you’re in Brussels, make sure you don’t miss what CNN called “Europe’s most bizarre building” in 2013.