The art nouveau lined streets of Brussels are like none other in the world. The intimate and charming alleyways that encircle the city’s main centre are alive with art, culture and food, all waiting to be discovered by eager visitors. Brussels is home to some of the most unique and significant culture in Europe and is also the capital of the European Union.
Brussels can, at times seem strange with its shabby and run-down tenement houses lining the backstreets of the city centre, that in any other location would be prime real estate. However, this strangeness is part of what makes the city so special.
Belgium was the second country in the world to legalise gay marriage and the liberalism and respect that paved the way for this legislation are palpable in Brussels. The gay district in Brussels is small but LGBT+ culture and community can be found throughout the city. Read More: A gay weekend in Brussels.
Designated as a UNESCO world heritage site, construction of the Grand-Place began in the 15th century and after being bombarded for three days by the French army in 1695, it rose again in just five years. This history is key to understanding the four styles that make up the architecture of the Grand-Place, a landmark shaped by its history in a way that’s dissimilar to most others. Identifiable in the Brussels skyline by its 96-meter tower, the Grand-Place is a must-visit destination for any traveler.
The location is hugely popular with tourists and is one of the most visited places in Belgium. There are numerous restaurants and eateries within walking distance of the Grand-Place making it the perfect location to plan a day around, even if the cafes are a little touristy.
The main gay bars in Brussels are located around Rue du Marché au Charbon street. You’ll also find a handful of gay shops in Brussels too nearby. The famous La Demence party also takes place in Brussels on a regular basis and is definitely worth checking out.
The Belgian Comic Strip Museum has been located in the heart of Brussels for 30 years, preserving and honouring the art of comic book illustration. The museum is regularly updated to feature the newest and most innovative work from comic illustrators around the globe and features a multitude of observational and interactive exhibitions for all to enjoy.
The museum is housed within a stunning Art Nouveau building designed by Victor Horta, which itself is a piece of art. Many popular comics are showcased at the museum including Tin Tin and the Smurfs, both Belgian creations. Entrance to The Belgian Comic Strip Museum is free and guests can enjoy the in-house café and gift shop.
Manneken Pis isn’t like most other landmarks. It’s tucked away, and easily missable if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But this iconic fountain is one of Brussels most popular tourist attractions. The fountain statue shows a small boy urinating into the water and the figure is routinely dressed up in a variety of outfits by local residents.
Irs assumed that the fountain was commissioned to recognise the many leather tanners that existed in the area, who would commonly use urine to treat their leather during the middle ages. The fountain was at one point the main source of water for those living in Brussels.
Place de la Bourse was built in 1873 and was the official stock exchange of Belgium. The building is notable for its striking baroque style and was constructed on the site of a former convent. Today, the Bourse plays host to a range of exhibitions and shows. It’s worth checking what’s on before traveling to Brussels to ensure you get the chance to explore this jaw-dropping building.
The Bourse is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Brussels with the numbers of tourists outside often reaching thousands. In summer the area can become very busy so its best to visit early in the morning or later in the evening.
Brussels is the centre of European Politics, and for travelers keen to explore this side of the city’s identity, look no further than the Parlamentarium. The Parlamentarium is an interactive and engaging space with the mission of making European politics accessible to the masses.
There is a wealth of investigation and exploration to be had at the centre and visitors are invited to learn about the paths to European integration and how parliament works. The Parlamentarium features attractions and exhibits for children and adults and there is no entry fee. The experience is available in 23 languages and is fully accessible to visitors with reduced mobility.
by George Pizani | More: Gay Brussels