Things to see and do - Brussels
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Brussels Grand-Place :
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Brussels Grand-PlacePedestrian, 4 km, 2 days
Starting at the famous Grand-Place, here's an idea for a weekend that will enable you to discover the many riches that central Brussels has to offer.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
Victor Hugo called it a "marvel", Jean Cocteau a "rich theatre". There is nothing like the Grand-Place in the world. It is the centre of Brussels and a spectacle in its own right. It is constantly buzzing with activity, and attracts hosts of visitors from all around the world, who cannot fail to be drawn in by its atmosphere. The Grand-Place has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.
Built in the 15C, this is a Gothic masterpiece. In 1421, the Town Hall only took up the left wing and belfry. Its entrance was the current Lions staircase. In 1459, a slightly shorter right wing was added. The building is dominated by a magnificently elegant and powerful tower built by Van Ruysbroeck. If you visit the monument, you will discover a fine collection of objects of art and paintings.
Situated on the site of the old bread market, this house, originally called the House of the Duke, used to house the tax and tribunal services. It was entirely rebuilt in 1515 and renovated in the 19C, nonetheless preserving its late 16C Gothic style. Today, it houses the Brussels City Museum that includes works of art and collections retracing the history of the city, and especially its art.
These houses surround the Grand-Place, and were built after the destruction of the city by the French in 1695, and restored in the 19C. Ionic, doric and Corinthian orders stand on the façades. Each is topped with a vaulted gable and decorated with sculptures and golden motifs. The Ommegang procession in July every year pays hommage to the guilds and is the reconstruction of the ceremony that took place in 1549 in the presence of Charles Quint.
In 1846, the architect Cluysenaar built an elegant Classical pilastered façade at the top of rue de la Montagne. The Galerie du Roi and Galerie de la Reine are covered with a glass vault on a metal framework. The galleries are home to many luxury shops, teashops and restaurants. At the junction with Rue des Bouchers, the Galerie de la Reine continues left into a third gallery called Galerie des Princes.
This small street lined with touristic restaurants is also home to the famous Toone Puppet Theatre which is held very dear by the people of Brussels.
In 1830, this theatre witnessed the beginning of the "September Days". During a performance of La Muette de Portici by Auber, the audience sparked off the rebellion. Rebuilt in 1855 by Poelaert en 1855, the building was renovated in 1985-86. The postmodernist part that was added at that point blends in perfectly with the original neo-Classical building. The interior is richly decorated, by well-known contemporary artists such as Buren.
This large construction looks similar to the Opéra Garnier in Paris. La Bourse (Stock Exchange) was built by Léon Suys from 1868 to 1873. The inspiration is Classical but the simplicity of its design is dominated by a decorative abundance. Auguste Rodin and other artists contributed work to this building, which is certainly of interest.
Sculpted in 1619 by J Duquesnoy the Elder, the Manneken ("Little Man") Pis, or "Little Julian" used to bring water to the district. This little pot-bellied boy symbolises Brabançon vigour. In the name of decency, or to honour "the oldest citizen of Brussels", it is traditional to offer him an item of clothing. From Louis XV to the Military Police, many countries and institutions have contributed to his wardrobe, which is on display at the Brussels City Museum.
This is one of the most elegant squares in Brussels. It is lined with ancient façades, antique shops, many cafés and luxury restaurants. Its atmosphere will delight you.
This lovely flamboyant style building was originally a chapel of the crossbowmen. Legend has it that in 1348, the pious Béatrice Soetkens brought a statue of the Holy Virgin from Antwerp to Brussels as a gift for the crossbowmen. The chapel became a place of pilgrimage and was enlargened from the 15C to 16C, then restored more than 100 years ago. Inside, the long choir and high glass canopies are captivating. The church contains many works of art.as le visiteur indifférent.
The collection of early Flemish work, as well as masterpeices by Bruegel the Elder and Rubens make this a museum of worldwide renown. It is situated in a classical style palace from the late 19C with a modern wing. An unforgettable experience.