Travel guide - Brussels

From the neo-Gothic Maison du Roi to the Parvis de Saint-Gilles in front of the neo-Romanesque church of the same name, Brussels is the European capital of cultural curiosity. Deliciously original, Brussels is also the country of asylum of waffle-lovers and comic book fans, and can be appreciated equally as well in the ostentatious Grand-Place and the tranquil Mont des Arts.

One of the most beautiful squares in the world

Brussels is built on a very human scale, so it’s easy to walk from one monument to the next. During your stay in the Belgian capital, you simply can’t miss the Grand-Place. Known as one of the world’s most beautiful squares, Grand-Place was originally a marsh, which was drained in order to build a market in its place. Today it is an impressive display of Brussels’ Gothic heritage. Every square centimetre of the many facades surrounding this immense square seems alive with echoes of the city’s past. First, cast your eyes upon the Maison du Roi, with its typically neo-Gothic style. The rich architecture composed of arches and scrolls naturally attracts the eye. On the other side of the square is the city hall with its Gothic tower, where you can once again lose yourself amidst the many archways. After this prestigious display of artistic prowess, the unassuming joker that is the Manneken-Pis will surprise you with its diminutive size and simplicity. Nonetheless, the statue is highly symbolic for the Belgians!

Pop the Brussels bubble

There is an undeniable parallel between comic books and Magritte’s surrealist works, which you can discover at the museum entirely dedicated to the artist. In his use of colour, inventiveness and rejection of established forms, the Belgian painter can be appreciated in the same way you appreciate a page filled with illustrations by comic book author Hergé.

Saint-Gilles, Brussels’ hipster neighbourhood

In its diversity and creativity, Saint-Gilles is probably the future of Brussels. South of the historic centre, Saint-Gilles is an example of the more human side of Brussels, with its colourful facades and village atmosphere. Dotted with brick walls and small squares where children play, Saint-Gilles is home to a new generation of particularly cultivated and creative Bruxellois. Enjoy the parade of hip bars and go where the spirit takes you until you eventually reach the Parvis Saint-Gilles, the centre of this multicultural area. Here you’ll find a mix of eastern-inspired restaurants, alternative brasseries and old-fashioned grocery stores in a working class neighbourhood. In addition to its diverse, authentic atmosphere, the southern part of this neighbourhood is also home to the Musée Horta, where you can find all the works of this master of Art Nouveau.

“Mussels and French fries, French fries and mussels”

To visit Brussels is to experience a very Epicurean way of life, as can be seen in the dozens of beer taps adorning every bar. With its delicious French fries and breaded sausages, Brussels is a food-lover’s delight. In addition to the timeless moules-frites and Belgian chocolate, you’ll find certain roads in Brussels that are filled with the scent of waffles. Specialising in Speculoos, the other star of Belgian cuisine, Maison Dandoy guarantees you a sweet experience as you sample their delicious biscuits and cakes.
In terms of beer, any brasserie can offer you a large beer selection, but its at the Delirium Café in the discreet Impasse de la Fidélité that you’ll find the largest selection. Here you can find no fewer than 2000 beers from around the world.
As is exemplified by its countless beers and gourmet specialities, the city of Brussels welcomes its visitors and incites them to discover Belgian culture. Brussels is a true feast for the senses. You’ll be on the lookout for comic book murals as you wander through the welcoming cobblestone streets. Whether on Grand-Place or on the Parvis de Saint-Gilles, you’re sure to be won over by Brussels’ friendliness.

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